Key Steps to Stay on Track

March 2020

As businesses, including us, adjust to the temporary reality of working from home – there are a few key pointers employees should keep in mind when at ‘work’.

"You need something to aim at, and to direct yourself towards. You need to have a goal."

The fact that there will be a loss of productivity cannot be ignored, and it is inevitable. The first step to managing employee productivity is accepting this as a truism. If employers expect the same output from employees, they will be disappointed, and what’s worse – employees may lose motivation as a result of this unrealistic expectation. However, a loss in productivity and motivation can be mitigated through three key guidelines.

 

Scheduling

 

The power of a timetable is underrated. I try my best to timetable my days down to half an hour blocks, as often as I can. Although this is probably unusual for most, and a result of the fact I actually like scheduling my time – it does work.

 

The broader rationale for this is that without a definitive direction in life, you will go nowhere. You need something to aim at, and to direct yourself towards. You need to have a goal. Now simplify this rule down to your daily tasks – if you have things to do, but you don’t actively direct yourself with the purpose of achieving them, they won’t get done (or they won’t get done properly).

 

You may sit at your desk for a few hours, passively working and intermittently checking Facebook, but this is no recipe for productivity. Set yourself a reasonable timeframe to complete your tasks, and you will find yourself working productively. It is a seemingly simple concept, almost trivial, however – it is one that it is mistakenly overlooked.

 

Be Realistic

 

I mentioned above you should set yourself a ‘reasonable’ timeframe. So, what factors should you consider when determining what ‘reasonable’ means?

 

Allow for distractions. You’re working at home remember. Whether it’s your partner, pet, Netflix or anything else – you will find yourself distracted if you don’t give yourself the requisite time to put these distractions to bed.

 

What I mean by this is that, as humans, we can only maintain our concentration for set period of time. This period is different for everyone. For example, I work at a fast pace but for short periods of time. Others work at a slower pace but for longer periods. However, everyone loses their concentration at some point. As soon as this happens, stop working. Get up and go do whatever it  is that distracted you. Once you feel like you're satisfied, get back into work.

 

Wake Up at the Same Time Everyday

 

This guideline overlaps with scheduling, but it’s important enough to warrant its own consideration.

 

I’m sure you’ve heard the classic army boot camp lesson that the first thing you do when you get up is make your bed. What’s the reasoning behind this? It’s more than just discipline and routine. When we get something we want, our brain releases dopamine – the bodies ‘feel good’ chemical. So, it’s possible to manipulate your bodies dopamine levels by setting small tasks and achieving them.

 

What are the flow on effects of this? Well, the main benefit is an increase in energy and motivation. The more tasks you accomplish, the more dopamine you release. Your brain recognises the correlation between the two. Now, it’s encouraging you continue to achieve your tasks, and rewarding you with the release of dopamine. Everyone knows the feeling of coming home after a productive day. You feel better, and more energised than after an unproductive day, even though you’ve done more. When you achieve nothing, you get exhausted. It’s tiring.

 

So, when I say wake up at the same time every day, this is the foundation of a productive day. It allows you to tick off your small tasks every morning: whether it’s make your bed, stretch, exercise, read a book or watch an episode of your favourite series. The point is – set yourself up for a productive day before you even start work.

 

Wake up at the same time every day, achieve your small daily tasks, stick to a reasonable schedule, and enjoy the results of your productivity.

by George Taylor

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