Welcome to How To Be Productive While Working At Home!
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been in quarantine for the last few weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I can count on one hand the number of times I have left my house over the course of the last 4 weeks (with the exception of exercise). And if I’m being honest, this quarantine life has driven me crazy.
In a matter of a few days my school was cancelled, I happened to quit my job, and a stay-at-home order was in effect. So, I went from leaving my house daily to now, leaving once or twice a week. Nonetheless, it is crazy times we find ourselves in.
My Experience in Quarantine
My quarantine experience has been a roller coaster to say the least. I’m in a love-hate relationship with the current situation, and my mood really just depends on the day.
Life Before Quarantine
When school was first cancelled back on March 13 for 3 weeks initally, everyone was excited! It was a 3 week spring break! But 3 weeks turned into 5 and 5 turned into 7. Now, my district is deciding whether or not we will return for the last 3 weeks of the semester.
3 weeks off sounded like paradise to me. For the last 7+ months of the school year, my life has been non-stop. I had school in the mornings, work in the evenings, and homework whenever I wasn’t working. Whenever I had some free time, I would spend it working on my businesses, trying to make progress whenever I could.
I was pumped when I heard that we would have 3 weeks off! 3 weeks of making major progress with my businesses, getting some to-do list items done, and studying for the SAT! But, before I knew it, my SAT was cancelled, I left my job, I had no school, and I couldn’t hang out with friends. Suddenly, 3 weeks felt like an incredibly long time.
Once that first Monday rolled around when I should have been in school, I found myself in my bed, sleeping in until 8:00 or 9:00. And I was tempted to lay in bed all day and do nothing but watch Netflix and YouTube. Thankfully, I didn’t that day. But, I would be lying if I said that I hadn’t done that numerous days over the last few weeks.
Over the last year as I have been working on self-improvement and improved productivity, nothing has become more real to me than Parkinson’s Law. If you don’t know what Parkinson’s Law is, it states that work expands to fill the amount of time given to it. So, if you have a 10 page paper to write and you give yourself 3 days to do it, it will take you 3 days. However, if you have to get it done in 4 hours, you’ll find a way to get it done.
Parkinson’s Law is the basis of procrastination. I’m sure any high schooler can relate to me. Whenever I get a big project, I find myself procrastinating for 90% of the time given to me, and then I grind it all out the day or night before it is due.
Why does this happen? Because we all know that the assignments we get really don’t take that long if we sit down and work. So when teachers give an excessive amount of time to work on the project, we’re prone to waste time until we actually have to work.
Parkinson’s Law has become very clear to me over this break. With no deadlines, a long to-do list, and tons of time on your hands, it’s incredibly easy to put things off until ‘tomorrow’.
My Life In Quarantine
So as you can imagine, I’ve done a fair share of procrastinating over break, usually in the form of Netflix or YouTube. There are days when I waste half or even 3/4 of the day doing nothing but that. But, when I do this, I feel absolutely terrible.
I find that when I am lazy, it puts me in a bad mood. But, if I’m productive, then it puts me in a good mood. It’s an interesting phenomenon, but one that I have discovered over the course of this break.
The thing is, sometimes it’s hard to control this. Some days I feel incredibly unmotivated and Netflix just sounds really good. Other days, it’s easy to be productive.
For myself, the real issue is that I’m too hard on myself. I’m so used to going 100 miles per hour, that I haven’t got the chance to slow down over the last 7+ months. I’m used to filling every second that I have, so when I have a lot more time on my hands, I feel guilt when I waste it. But, the reality is, this a good break, a good time to slow down, and a good time to get some much needed relaxation.
So for me, yes there has been a lot of lazy days, but there has also been a lot of productive days. Days where I work on school stuff, or work on one of my businesses. So the truth is, it just depends on the day.
The Blessings Of Quarantine
While the need for quarantine is not a blessing in any way, there has been a few blessings that have appeared in my life as a result of the quarantine.
First, and probably the biggest, is that I have been able to spend a lot of time with family over the last 4 weeks.
Quarantine has given me tons of time to work on things that I have really needed to work on.
This extra time has allowed me to slow down, reflect, and think about my life moving forward.
On top of all of that, there has been plenty of other inspiring stories and good things that have happened as a result of this, so remain positive!
How To Be Productive While Working At Home
I would consider myself a pretty motivated person that is pushing towards productivity 75% of the time. This break has been a challenge, but I’ve learned a lot more tips and tricks over the last 4 weeks than I ever have in the last 17 years of my life.
We already talked about Parkinson’s Law, but how do you use this to your advantage? Well, you have to set deadlines for yourself that are short-term. Let’s say you have 15 tasks on your to-do list that you want to get done over the next 3 weeks of quarantine. Start by dividing them up by weeks, so 15 tasks will be 5 tasks a week for the next 3 weeks. Then, divide them into days. Spread the 5 tasks out over the course of 7 days. This leaves 2 days for you to do absolutely nothing. But, this way, you’ll at least be productive on a majority of the days and you’ll get all of your to-do list items done.
Productive Morning, Lazy Evening
One strategy that has worked extremely well for me over the last few weeks is having a productive morning and a lazy evening. In the morning I get up and I get stuff done. Then, when my daily tasks are done that I relax and spend time with family. Remember when I said that being productive puts me in a good mood? Well if I can be productive in the morning then that puts me in a good mood for the rest of the day.
Sunlight and Exercise
One thing that has really helped cheer me up when I’m in a bad mood is going outside. Just getting outside tends to boost my mood, but if I exercise as well that helps me a lot. Even just opening the blinds and lettings some light in is very beneficial.
Spend Time With Family
Right now is the perfect time to spend time as a family. I know my own family has been spending a lot more time together, which has been great. Without being about to hang out with friends, it’s a good time to hang out with family instead.
The last tip is, be lazy! That’s right, you’ve earned it. If you’ve worked hard and got a decent amount of stuff done, then let yourself be lazy. There’s not a better time to be lazy than right now, so enjoy it while it lasts!
Other Productivity Tips
So those last tips are what I have discovered in last few weeks in order to keep me being productive while at home. But what about some other more general productivity tips? Well, here you go:
Everyone needs to have their own system to be productive. My system is unique and works well for me. I use the notes app to act as an idea inbox where I record anything that pops into my head. Then, I use a bullet journal to make my weekly to-do lists, record my goals, and track my time and progress on a variety of things. I take my tasks from my bullet journal and schedule them into my Google Calendar that is shared across all of my devices.
Then, each day I can get on my calendar to see what I need to get done for that day. Each week I can look back and see what I got done that week and plan for the following week. Here’s how to build your own productivity system. Also, check out the book, “Lifescale: How to Live a More Creative, Productive, and Happy Life.”
Yearly, Monthly, Weekly, and Daily Goals
As mentioned, I use a bullet journal to create yearly, monthly, and weekly goals. It works like this: I have general goals each year of how I want to improve myself and for things I’m working on. I break those tasks down into months for which I’ll work on them. Then, I take those large tasks and break them down into smaller, actionable steps that turn into my weekly tasks that are eventually distributed to my daily to-do lists.
In order to track what I’m working on, and whether or not I’m being productive, I track every hour of my day 24/7. It might seem like a pain, but I assure you that it does not take more than 2 minutes a day to quickly record what you did for each hour of the day. At the end of the week it is great to look back and see what I was able to accomplish and how I spent my time. Each week, I am able to change how I do things to make better use of the time I have.
If you’re unfamiliar with batching, it refers to when you ‘batch’ all of your work together into groups that allows you to do all of the similar work at one time. For this blog, we write a few posts and then spent a few hours a week getting them ready for publishing. We are able to get several posts ready to go within a few hours every couple of weeks. You can able batching to almost every repetitive task in your life.
Distractions are one of the biggest reasons for what work takes longer than it should. What is your biggest distraction? My biggest one is my phone. So I limited my notifications so I only receive notifications from apps that are necessary (messages, emails, and that’s about it). I get distracted way less because every other app has notifications turned off. Whenever you need to get work done without being interrupted, you can also activate do not disturb mode.
I might be OCD when it comes to organization. Everything needs to be organized in order to access the things I need as quickly as possible. I organize my phone, my computer, and my physical items. This allows me to work without distractions and not have to search for something for extended periods of time.
Check out more posts like this in our productivity category!
My experience in quarantine has been a roller coaster. I’ve had a lot of lazy days, but also a lot of really productive days. I hope that the tips and tricks that I shared in this blog post will help you be more productive while you are working at home. Be safe everyone!
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