I'll be the first to admit that I've found myself coming across roadblocks working from home. To sum it up - my output was taking a hit. However, over the years I have become a connoisseur of setting up operational and productivity systems which I hope to share with you today.
Your home is a place where you find peace and relaxation, shared with family and friends, but as of recent you've been thrown in the deep end, making your "comfort space" a working space.
Soon after you've settled into performing your work from home, you find yourself succumbing to distractions like juggling the kids, TV, or your phone. The problem is, you no longer have someone checking up on you or scrutinizing your cellphone use or your long overdue tea breaks. In the end, these distractions culminate in low Productivity, frustration, and poor output.
If this sounds familiar, trust me, you're not alone. I've gone through these similar scenarios and found some practical ways create a conducive environment from which to thrive. Here are my techniques, tools, and tricks to optimize your time, output and quality of work.
1. Designate an Area
Designate an area in your home specifically for your work. That space will either be your battle ground or your Shangri-La. When it comes to your business or work, don't compromise or confuse the space by using it to binge on your favorite Netflix series.
I would advise you to allocate a space that doesn’t easily expose you to distractions or frequent breaks. Rule of thumb is to NOT allocate a "workspace" that you currently use for "relaxation" such as the living room or bedroom. Your mind has already programmed your room as place to relax so it will challenge you when you attempt to focus on a mental task.
If however, you find you have limited space then set it up for limited distractions, apply self-control while adding boundaries accordingly.
2. Keep your Space Clean, Tidy, and De-cluttered
2.1 A clean workspace
A clean sanitized space deters you from catching flu like viruses lurking on your keyboard or on top of your desk. If you share one computer within your household or workspace, the last thing you want is to spread the flu, viruses, and bacteria to roommates and other family members. Ultimately affecting the entire house.
A flu can set you back on your productivity, the obvious lack of energy culminated with time spent to care of your sick spouse, children or family member, accumulates into time spent away from work.
2.2 A de-cluttered workspace
A study done by Libby Sanders, a researcher in Psychology found that a cluttered workspace can add to your stress levels and anxiety, affecting our decision making and performance.
So It is imperative to clean up your workspace. Either Get help or unclutter your work area.
File documents in pocket folders, and catalog the folders. You can make use of flip or pocket files to catalog your documents if you don't have a cabinet. Everything aught to have a place and be easy to retrieve.
3. De-clutter your Digital Space
De-cluttering your workspace is as important as de-cluttering your computer.
3.1 Filing to avoid Extensive Time Consumption
Catalog and create order in your Computer, filing your documents adequately by creating sub-folders to your main files make them easy to retrieve. A cluttered desktop and uncatalogued filing can cause a dent on time.
The worst part of clutter is spending 5 to 10 minutes looking for desktop files on a daily basis. It equates to hours lost a week, days lost a month and weeks lost a year if not more. It all leads to productivity lost and efficiencies depleted.
3.2 Practice easy Labeling for easy Retrieval
Use plain language to name your digital or hard copy folders; at the end of the day, you don’t want to have to figure out what files are meant to imply. I've been there, stumped as to what “HGK” file is and searching through it, all the while wasting time.
Compile your files like you would a book that has a table of the content page nested with various sub-chapters within the table of contents.
An example, label a file “invoices” that contain a sub-folder for 2019, 2020. Label another file folder "clients", with a sub-folder of each client and their respective files like “Content” and “project data”.
4. Create a Routine, Checklist and Diary to remain Consistent
Create a routine, by keeping a notebook, diary, or a scheduling app that you will use to remind you of tasks to accomplish for that day.
4.1 Routine into Habit
Nod if you've been here, you’re on social media, or YouTube and you tell yourself, just a few minutes, a few minutes turns into 10 minutes then into 2 hours of scrolling through profiles and accounts, likes, comments or binge-watching your favorite YouTuber.
It helps to mimic the routine you adopted at work and apply it to home space because routine creates boundaries within your workday.
Take, for instance, your work routine includes seven hours of work per day, one-hour lunch break, with the occasional tea break in between if need be. Replicate these systems at home, this will ultimately reprogram the power of habitual practice. We can't emphasize this enough, stick to a routine and a set agenda for tasks that need completion in order to check them off your list, this moves your project forward.
4.2 Checklist to Move Forward and avoid Inefficiencies
Esteemed Medical Surgeon Atul Gawande's newest book called The Checklist Manifesto says, “The average number of complications and deaths in the surgery room dipped by 35 percent” when doctors implemented the checklist before performing surgeries. The World Health Organization went on to adopt this checklist as part of a protocol many continents use today.
A checklist is simple yet powerful because it narrows in on the essentials by means of ruling out inefficiencies while reducing the number of decisions to make.
5. Digital Tools and Applications for Tracking
Apps useful that I use to schedule and track my tasks are Google Task and Google Calendar. These will come in handy with deadlines and plans that need attention.
If you're looking to bring a team together, and create an environment for communication and collaboration all the while tracking your own tasks and that of others, look to apps like Slack, To Do and Trello .
We hope these shortcuts will help you in your endeavor to be productive and make the most of your time while in quarantine or in your future as a freelancer working from home.
Article contributed by Bianca Hendricks
TaskedApp is a platform where businesses and individuals find the right people, that can help them complete tasks/errands/projects, so they can do what is important to them. We envision a world where people are empowered by doing what they love and enjoy.
Did you wake up determined that “today is the day” you will complete that one thing you have been postponing for some time? Spending time with family, learning a new skill, clearing your garden or scaling your business. But just then, you get a reminder that there is yet another task that you were supposed to complete today. You shrug, overwhelmed, as a voice keeps screaming in your head “I don’t have enough time!”.
Whether you are a business owner or an individual, managing a business, or your life, can be very challenging. There are moments when you lose focus due to the many distractions and trivial tasks that prevent you from doing what is important. It is said that only 20% of what we do contribute to the 80% of the results we get in the end. However, in this fast-paced world, we find ourselves doing 80% of the work and obtaining only 20% of the results we envision. You would agree with me that this can be very frustrating.
Fortunately, there is a solution to this frustration: The Gig Economy. Defined as the job market where short-term or part-time work is done by self-employed people on temporary contracts, the gig economy has helped a number of businesses and people both offline and online. In countries, like America, the gig economy employs about 36% of the population, they work as independent contractors with online platforms such as Uber, Airbnb, Fiverr and others facilitating this transition. Giving themselves and the organisations they work for a level of flexibility and freedom that was up to now inconceivable.
The gig economy is not new in Namibia though, independent contractors have been present for a while, with the most common being building contractors. Companies, and individuals, have been delegating activities and duties that are not part of their core business to different contractors. The term contractor has become quite intimidating that many relate the term to “very expensive”; and that is when freelancers come in the picture.
Freelancers in Namibia have been known by many different names like “the go-to guy”, “handyman”, “Jack of all trades”, and many others. If one was to compare freelancers to contractor companies, you’d find that freelancers are more flexible, more independent, and have fewer overheads- making them a more affordable and efficient option. With the world undergoing massive upheavals that at present show no end in sight due to the Coronavirus, contracts, employment and whole organisations are being terminated. But, what happens when the economy starts to rebound post-COVID19? Will employment contracts be dished out, or will organisations be more cautious and hire people for ‘piece-work’…if and only when they are needed? This is what the gig economy was made for.
In Namibia, however, many freelancers are regarded as being part of the “informal sector” and are perceived to provide “not up to standard” work. Which simply isn’t the case. In 2018, the Namibian Labour Force Survey showed that 57% of the employed people in the country were in the informal sector. If more than half of the workforce is in the informal sector, does that not indicate that there is a significant amount of expertise in it? Several countries are progressively moving towards the gig economy and statistics also indicate that the future of employment is in the gig economy.
If you, as a business owner would like to hire experts for services needed only temporarily, scale quickly while reducing workforce-related costs; then the flexibility and expertise that is offered by the gig economy is perfect.
But, looking at it from the person employed in the gig economy, it gives the individual the freedom to do what they want, what they are good at within a schedule that suits them, rather than a constant 9-5 workload. The gig economy might just be a great solution to helping lower unemployment rate and poverty in Namibia.