Productivity is often jeopardised when you work from home. Understandably, when the distractions are plenty, and the temptations are real. ‘Why shouldn’t I lounge around in pyjamas?’ you might be asking yourself, ‘I can work from home, and have the music on in the background, right?’
Well, not exactly. You see, when you’re already at home, the last thing you want to do is get too comfortable. With the advent of the lockdown, and social distancing, working from home also became a part of the new normal. And, it quickly became apparent that rules had to be rewritten. Productivity hacks became the need of the hour, as did Zoom calls. In particular, the work-life balance was threatened when the two quite literally merged.
Luckily, I actually had a conversation with someone who is quite a maverick when it comes to at home productivity. And I think that her advice can help us stay on track, even from the comfort of our own homes.
Work From Home Lessons From Anam Khan
You might know about a little something called The Newsrun. Founded by Anam Khan, it’s a daily e-newsletter that breaks down Pakistan’s top stories. It has been a part of my morning ritual for some time now, and I’ve also regularly collaborated with them.
Back when lockdown was still a new headline, I picked Anam’s brains about how she stays focused. Because of the daily deadline of a news centric newsletter, I felt that Anam’s work from home tips would be invaluable. And boy, was I right!
During our Instagram live, Anam went over everything that keeps her focused. Every tip, trick and hack that helps her maintain work from home bliss. What’s more, her advice is actually quite simple. There is no magic trick, or expensive app required. Just a simple, regimented schedule, which she follows diligently. It’s so simple in fact, that I’m sure you can easily incorporate all of her tricks into your life immediately.
With that said, let’s go over Anam Khan’s productivity boosting work from home tips…
1. Get up at the same time every day
Waking up at the same time every day sets parameters for your day. As Anam explains it, “you should wake up, like you’re going to the office.” And she makes it a point to get up at 7:30 AM everyday. It may be tempting to press the snooze button twenty times. But, do not sleep in! This will throw off your whole day. Alternatively, if you get up early, you’ll start off on the right foot. As she explains it, “if you start your routine right from the morning, it sustains itself throughout the day.” Pick a time that works for you, and get up at that time every day.
2. Change into your work clothes
When you work from home, you often have to trick your brain into a professional setting. If you stay in your pyjamas, you will stay in relaxation mode. Because you associate pyjamas with sleeping, or resting. So, change into something comfortable, but still formal, to add structure to your day. Anam continues to have a fuss-free morning routine that helps her, formally, start her day.
Bonus Tip: How To Pick A Morning Routine
Remember, the goal isn’t to glam-up; but rather to formalise your workday. Cleanse your face, and apply your skincare as you usually would. Because I have acne prone skin, I tend to avoid makeup unless I have a meeting or a live. But, if you have a lightly made up look that works for you, then go for it.
For outfit choices, stick to the basics. Anam relies on just formal, albeit comfortable shirt and pant combinations. You can get a bit playful if you like; just as long as it helps your productivity without being stressful.
3. Have a workstation
A lot of us may be tempted to stay in bed while we work. But, it’s really helpful to have a workstation that you don’t associate with rest. It can be a desk, your dinner table, your bedroom floor. It should just encourage you to stay focused and productive.
4. Prioritise your tasks
In the absence of managers and daily meetings, lists are your friend. Everyday, be sure to outline your tasks for the day, and set some priorities. Take some time with this, so that you get through the most important things without fail. It also helps, if at the end of each day, you make a to-do list for the next day.
Bonus Tip: How Anam Prioritises Her Tasks
First thing in the morning, as she’s having her coffee, Anam likes to write out her tasks for the day. Anam divides her task list into different segments. She has her ‘top three’; these are non-negotiable and need to get done. Then there are the ‘medium priority’ tasks, which she writes down because; “I’m feeling ambitious.” But, if she doesn’t get to them, it’s fine. She also lists the house chores and errands separately.
Which brings us to the next hack…
5. Compartmentalise your housework
It’s important to ensure that you set a time-frame for your work. It is also important that during this time, you don’t tackle housework. Compartmentalising is key. Segment the day, and don’t let your personal chores bleed into your working hours. Do not get up in the middle of your work, and tend to your house chores. This will break the flow.
6. Do not play around with productivity
Do not kid yourself into thinking that multitasking is possible, or productive. If you put a movie, or a show on in the background, it will impact your work. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’ll only watch five minutes of your favourite sit-com; because you won’t.
7. Have an ending time for your workday
It’s important to have an end to your workday. Have a time when you stop working, after which you have to stop looking at the screen. The work-life balance cuts both ways. It is important for you not to bring your office home with you; even if you’re working from home.
Bonus Tip: Remember To Have A Post-Work Unwinding Ritual
Do something that helps you relax. It could be watching the sunrise, it could be a phone-conversation with friends or family, it could be a bath. Times have been unprecedented and unpredictable. And it’s important for you to take care of yourself however you can. This is why I’ve partnered with The Newsrun to bring you a weekly self-care segment. Every day, give yourself a reason to be happy; no matter how tiny.