We’re Focussing on Mental Health and Productivity – And Here’s Why

Mental Health and Productivity has been top of the agenda for us in recent months. We understand that many of our clients are  concerned about the current coronavirus crisis, working from home and how to remain productive.  We’ll most likely be working from home for longer periods of time. As a result, it’s critical that we recognise how it could effect our mental health and that we take care of ourselves and our coworkers.

The majority of professions reverted to home-based workplaces in 2020, making it a difficult year for the workplace. Working from home has its advantages (no traffic jams on the way to the extra room), but it also has its drawbacks.

Isolation is a major worry, therefore we brainstormed creative ways to combat it for our employees. We enjoy finding good answers to problems, so what could we do to bring our entire team together beyond the typical communication tools?

Consistency was vital because it gave them a sense of belonging to the office and to each other. We needed a common thread for our new office spaces, so we had daily video meetings to keep us all in touch. We felt we needed something with a more natural resonance, even though we’re all connected by a laptop.

As a result, we’ve compiled a list of 9 suggestions for being productive while working from home.

1. Master the art of desk-scaping

According to a recent study, 49% of workers believe they need a better working area if they want to continue working from home, with more than a third (34%) claiming their workspace is less comfortable than the office. What is the solution? Stop shuffling papers and start sprucing up your workspace.

Clutter impairs the brain’s ability to process information effectively, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience. It’s time to get tidy if you want to start doing chores more quickly.

First, try “zoning” your home office by setting up separate areas for reference materials, supplies, and long-term projects. Then, set up as many completion target dates as you can for as many things as possible. Then empty your desk and replace only the objects that are absolutely necessary for everyday use.

Finally, add splashes of colour wherever you can, whether it’s a painting on the wall, a screensaver, or your favourite cup. Reach for that ocean view or add a leafy plant to the proceedings. Color can have a significant impact on mood, with greens and blues in particular proving to improve productivity, so reach for that ocean vista or add a leafy plant to the proceedings. (A study from Washington State University discovered that plants had extra benefits in terms of encouraging productivity, in addition to their greenness.)

2. Make monotasking a habit.

The harsh reality is that very few of us can multitask effectively. According to Professor David Strayer of the University of Utah, a cognitive distraction expert, it affects about 2% of the population. The issue is that when we go from task to task, we don’t truly do more. Instead, we’re straining our brains to alter speeds all the time, causing us to swerve through activities and burn up our internal gearboxes. The solution is to put an end to multitasking and embrace monotasking.

“We’ve been sold the notion that multitasking is a desirable skill that allows us to get everything done – yet nothing could be further from the truth,” says Ryan Jackson, business coach and author of “The Success Rebellion.”

“Devoting days or half-days to themes or closely related work is a more productive method,” he explains. “That way, it’s easier to knock out jobs one at a time, and if you get sidetracked, it’s easy to get back on track.”

According to a recent study, 44 percent of workers say it is now more necessary to know how to encourage themselves outside of the workplace. A to-do list is one of the most effective ways to accomplish this, and the best time to make one is the night before.

Take the final 10 minutes of your day, when you’re still in work mode, to analyse what you truly need to get done tomorrow — a task that could take twice as long if you approach it cold first thing in the morning. The goal is to make your to-do list short and simple so it doesn’t feel overwhelming. The Urgent-Important Matrix, according to Niamh Graham, head of global HR at Workhuman, is a terrific method to achieve that.

Also known as the Eisenhower Matrix, this is a wonderful tool for prioritising activities, especially while working from home. The matrix divides jobs into four quadrants based on their urgency and priority. Then you can focus solely on the ‘Urgent-Important’ tasks, scheduling, delegating, or eliminating the rest.

4. Make a list of things you don’t want to do.

You’ve made your to-do list, but you’ll also need the opposite if you want to be truly productive. A not-to-do list should be a permanent fixture in your workstation, listing all of the time-wasters that are getting in the way of your daily objectives, from checking social media to watching cat videos to going into the kitchen to do the dishes.

Even the most disciplined workers are subject to the temptation of time-wasting when their boss isn’t hovering behind them. Creating a [forbidden] list can help you remember what to avoid, but barring yourself from particular websites during the workday will be even more beneficial.

5. Schedule your flow timings

Your “flow” time is when you’re most productive: a period of intense attention during which you operate most efficiently. Some people prefer the mornings, while others prefer the afternoons or evenings. Once you’ve found yours, set aside 90 minutes each day for pure, serious work on your most important projects.

Deep work must be done in a state of distraction-free concentration,” says certified high performance coach David Grieve. “Without it, you’ll find yourself continuously focusing on tiny, non-value-adding chores and never making progress on your bigger, more significant pieces of work.” Blocking out time is a terrific method to ensure that this critical moment occurs every day, without being distracted by ringing or pinging phones.

6. Follow the 80:20 rule

The 80-20 Rule argues that 80% of your results arise from 20% of your acts, and vice versa.  To put it another way, if you want to be more productive, you must discover the 20% of your job that has an 80% impact and make it a top priority.

Our mental stamina has a significant impact on our degree of concentration, and focussing techniques such as the 80:20 rule can help us manage our time more successfully.

7. Master the art of napping.

Napping isn’t an option at a typical workplace unless you’re looking for an excuse to get fired, but it is a method you may use to your advantage when working from home. The key is to use your body’s natural circadian rhythm to increase your memory, cognitive skills, and creativity by taking a 20-minute power nap (also known as a Stage 2 nap) in the middle of the day.

You get the aforementioned benefits without sliding into deeper REM sleep, which will leave you feeling drowsy and disoriented, if you limit yourself to only 20 minutes. Drink a cup of coffee right before your power nap to boost your energy. Caffeine takes roughly 20 minutes to have an effect on the body, so it will kick in right when you wake up, according to research.

8. Reflect your ambition in how you dress.

When you work from home, it doesn’t matter how you dress – or if you wear anything below the waist at all. When it comes to your productivity levels, though, not making a sartorial effort is a significant mistake. Preparing for the day ahead, like choosing somewhat more sophisticated clothing, sends a message to your brain that it’s game time – and that generates additional cerebral energy.

Dressed adequately transforms your work mindset to ‘on,’ which is critical for attention levels and will give you a sense of increased purpose,” explains Erica Wolfe-Murray, author of Simple Tips for Business and Innovation. Innovative Concepts: Make your company bigger and better. That doesn’t mean you have to work from your hotel room in a pencil skirt or a three-piece suit. However, on workdays, you should keep your sweatpants in the closet.

9. Schedule a “force quit” at the end of your workday.

When it comes to peak performance, elite athletes understand that rest is just as vital as training – and if you want to boost your productivity, you must grasp this lesson as well. It’s tempting to let chores drift into the evening when you work from home, but this can be troublesome — not only for your personal life, but also for your production the next day. 

Overworking can lead to stress and burnout, which can impair not only your productivity but also your emotional health and wellbeing. Instead, designate a specific time to end your workday and adhere to it no matter what.  If you’re having trouble doing so, find an accountability partner — a coworker, friend, or manager – and schedule a call to conclude the day. A hard finish not only means a more relaxed start the next morning after a good night’s sleep, but it also means you’ll work quicker and more efficiently each day since you know your finish time is non-negotiable.

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