The last 18 months have been a test of resilience for individuals and organisations. Our work culture has changed more in the past 1.5 years than it has in the last decade. Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings have become the norm, and building teams across boundaries seems almost effortless now.
I’m sure most people had a tough time, with full family home at all times, working from home isn’t easy for everyone. One had to rework routines, carefully balance chores with work and stay positive in a very unusual and uncertain time.
Now, as things return to a new normal and hybrid work routines emerge, here are a few lessons we can take from the work from home episode of our lives to the office.
Following a routine
Whether it is work from home or office, creating a routine and sticking to it is very important for productivity and overall wellbeing. Going to office should not mean losing out on time to exercise or on quality time with family.
Creating a meaningful routine is the only way to maintain control over your day and not letting external factors dictate it. Spend time writing down what an ideal day should look like.
What has worked for me is:
One of the most important aspects of following a routine is to manage time. It can become difficult if tasks aren’t delegated. Divide and prioritise even at work like you prioritised and shared the load during the lockdown.
Start by doing a personal audit. Identify repetitive tasks that add no value but are still taking up time. Omit unnecessary tasks, and then try to automate the repetitive tasks. If tasks cannot be automated then delegate the task or outsource. If none of these work, only then take up the task to do it yourself.
Declutter your workspace, keep it clean
Decluttering office spaces is as important as maintaining clean homes and home offices. I’m a firm believer that one’s physical space is a clear representation of their state of mind. Decluttering spaces will help decluttering the mind too. I follow a minimalist lifestyle for this very reason.
To truly increase productivity, one needs to focus on decluttering all four spaces—physical, mental, emotional and digital. The more the friction in these spaces, the lesser the chances of being productive.
Prioritise and focus on just one big task a day
Prioritise tasks like you did at home. Don’t try to multitask. Instead, focus on one big task a day that has huge value. Categorise and prioritise tasks into three baskets—non-productive, productive, and high-impact productive tasks—and pick what’s most critical on that day.
I recommend working in 90 mins to two-hour chunks with zero distractions, taking a break and then again getting back to it. Distractions such as social media and phone calls affect one’s time and focus tremendously. A slight distraction in your working zone can set you back by a minimum of 20 minutes. And like I always say: Time is not your most valuable asset, it is focus.
As we’ve spent more time at home, many of us have re-discovered the joy of fresh home food. Now as one prepares to go back to office, don’t let yourself slide back into old habits of indulging in unhealthy fast food and processed snacks.
Plan your meals (and grocery shopping) in advance so you can take nutritious food with you to the office to boost your energy levels and overall wellbeing.
Learn to say ‘no’
I’m sure people have said the word no a lot during the pandemic, whether it was to socialise due to Covid-19 protocols or work commitments. Take this practice with you to work.
Just as social commitments were turned down to ensure productivity at home, feel free to say no to meetings that are an unnecessary waste of time. If you think they’ll be quicker on Zoom or over an email, say no to a physical meeting. Say no to after work hour plans if it disrupts the routine and vision. Live life in the office on your terms because as John Rim says, “If you don't design your life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan.”
It is an interesting time to see work cultures evolve. Some of us are thrilled to work from home while others can’t wait to go back to the office. Tech giants are experimenting with new workplace models. Whatever your situation, remember to stay aligned with your vision so you can design your life the way you want.
The writer is one of India’s leading digital coaches and has recently launched his book ‘You Can Coach’.
The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.
Check out our end of season subscription discounts with a Moneycontrol pro subscription absolutely free. Use code EOSO2021. Click here for details.