Designate spaces for work, play, eating, and stick to the rules you agree on. Picture: Pikrepo
Designate spaces for work, play, eating, and stick to the rules you agree on. Picture: Pikrepo

5 tips to help you stay productive at home

By IOL Supplied Time of article published Mar 31, 2020

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The world is already a different place, as we grapple with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our economies, politics, and communities. While many of us have mentally and structurally prepared for an earthquake, flood or even a terrorist attack, this week we discovered that very few of us know how to respond to a biological threat. 

In this uncertain time, with no end date in sight to our current national state of disaster, it’s time to get practical, pragmatic and productive. 

Here Lynette Ntuli, CEO at Innate Investment Solutions, and Charmagne Mavudzi, head of marketing and communications for Volvo Car South Africa, share five ways we can get through the worst, and back to our best, from the comfort of our homes. 

Maintain your morning routine 

“The normalcy of waking up at the same time, exercising, having a good breakfast for example, will determine how energetic, productive and structured your day will be. Get the whole family on board too so that there is no temptation to slip back into bed or binge on Netflix in your PJ’s until 15h00,” says Ntuli. 

While you won’t have to dress as formally as you might usually do, there is power in looking and feeling confident, pulled together, and human. We all do better after our second cup of coffee each day.

Make space and get organised 

Designate spaces for work, play, eating, and stick to the rules you agree on. 

“Find your quiet space and make it your own. Not everyone has an expansive home with a spare room to turn into an office. Consider other safe-to-use non-home spaces, like your car. Modern cars today have built-in wifi functionality, which can come in handy when connectivity through home devices becomes strained” points out Mavudzi. 

Ensure there are sensible (not hoarded) supplies in the pantry, study, playroom. Know where important documents are stored and keys are kept. A stable environment significantly assists the mental adjustment and stress levels. 

Take a ‘flexible enough’ approach to daily schedules

Accept that what your calendar says and what may happen during this period, may not work out 30 - 40 percent of the time. 

“Give yourself, your family and colleagues grace when this happens and take a flexible ‘enough’ approach to meeting interruptions and distractions,” saying Ntuli. “Each day try to make sure five important tasks are accomplished, and then stop. You don’t want to burn out from stress, anxiety, whilst caring for your home, family and work,” says Ntuli. 

Connect with an online community

“You might be shutting the world out around you physically, but you don’t have to do the same mentally. If you weren’t part of an online community before, now’s your time to get connected. Find and join professional social groups in your line of work. You’ll discover many are facing similar challenges to your own, and some will have novel ways of working around them,” comments Mavudzi. 

Personal and social communities can be found in existing places via social media platforms like Instagram or Linked-In. You can also start your own, with colleagues and friends via WhatsApp. 

Fight the urge to multitask

If ever boundaries counted, it’s now! “Hard to insist on, but necessary without the physical divides of work, home and play. Fight the urge to multitask, or else everyone and everything will lose the gift of your focus” points out Ntuli.

“Keep designated working hours with your colleagues. At Innate we have agreed on core available hours each day, while being mindful of school holidays, deadlines and the additional pressures everyone faces in spite of the slow-down. Schedule meetings and keep them, and ensure there is a paper trail to every discussion.

"There will be challenges, and I always mitigate these by continuously circling back, consulting and changing the plan, to alleviate disaster and panic. Raise issues, fears, concerns early – physical distance exacerbates trust, patience and capacity deficits and relationships are hard to restore over Skype,” comments Ntuli. 

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