5 ways to improve productivity while Working From Home (WFH)
The 'always on' world of PR often requires a conscious effort to switch off after work. The remote working revolution triggered by the pandemic has made it even more of a challenge to ensure the boundaries between work and home are not blurred.
With no arduous commute home, it can be all too easy to put in an extra hour or so. Especially when you see the latest unemployment figures or hear about the latest actions of our heroic key workers. You feel somewhat guilty for wanting some time to yourself.
So to add to the growing online literature of how to marry up and get the best out of both worlds, here are my top 5 tips on how to proactively manage a pressured environment without working all hours under the sun.
1.Working 9-5 (what a way to make a living!)
I’ve never been an early riser and would always hit snooze at the instant thought of my morning commute.
However, since working from home, I’ve naturally awoken at 6am and am generally at my desk with a coffee for 7am. Working a seven-hour day with plenty of breaks for coffee and lunch, plus the odd screen break, means I’m often done by 3pm/4pm.
While there is a need to be flexible around client needs I pretty much stick to this pattern because it works for me. I’m far more productive in the mornings and feel that I have more time to myself in the evenings so that I’m fully refreshed for the next day.
Key to adopting these hours has been managing the expectations of others, as I’m often finished several hours before most people.
You may prefer a later start and work into the evening or take off a few hours during the day – do what works best for you as there is no such thing as 9-5 now!
2. Drowning in emails?
Ever had one of those days where someone asks you what you did and you honestly can’t remember!? Early on in my career I would often spend all day responding to emails and leave my own project work either undone or delayed until others had left the office.
I now try not to let others dictate to me the importance of their emails as it quite often serves their own agenda but not mine.
I generally set aside the first and last hours of the day to deal with emails. I also scan throughout the day for anything I consider urgent. While emails can be an unnecessary distraction, they can also alert you to important news – which in PR often needs to be seized upon straight away.
3. Bite-size lists
Having a ‘to-do’ list as long as your arm can result in being too thinly stretched and unable to properly drive forward a project. For me, it can leave me feeling like I’ve not achieved anything with my day and guilty that I’ve still got so much more to do.
Therefore, having two or three key tasks on my list every day means that I’m more focused – anything extra accomplished is an added bonus.
PR is fast moving and shifting your priorities is essential, so learning to accept when stuff on your to-do list doesn’t get done is paramount to maintaining productivity.
4. Alert, alert!
I’ve often been guilty of pushing back big tasks to the end of the day as I’m not sure how to approach it or I know I’m not going to enjoy it.
After several hours of emails though my brain just isn’t working, and I put off the task for another day. That’s how I end up rattling through it very quickly at the last minute and not performing at my best.
I’m far more productive if I attack those big tasks early in the morning when my brain is firing on all cylinders – and several cups of coffee.
5. New ways of working
The pandemic has given me the confidence to discover myself and an opportunity to work in a way that suits me best.
I’m lucky to work in an industry that can afford such flexibility and even luckier to have supportive employers and colleagues who recognise the importance of wellbeing at work – in the office or at home.
We’re always on the lookout for new recruits to join our friendly and growing team, particularly if you’re enthusiastic about our vision of creating positive and lasting change for our clients, our culture, and our community. Get in touch if you think you might be a good match.