Working from home, part 1: focus and productivity

The COVID-19 virus is imposing a new challenge upon us all. We are lucky in Calldorado to be working in the mobile app industry, where it’s possible to continue our business as usual by working from home.

It can be hard to stay focused, productive, healthy and happy. For some, it’s juggling work and the attention of family, for others it’s being isolated and alone. 

Since the start of 2020, most Calldoradians have spent two Fridays every month working from home, gaining valuable experience in remote working. We asked our team what their best tips for working from home are, that they wanted to share in this challenging period. And we got lots of awesome suggestions!

In part 1 we’re sharing ideas on focus and productivity:


DESIGNATE SPACE
One of the key factors to working from your home is having a designated space for work. Of course, you might not have the same awesome stand-up desk and ergonomic seat as in the office, but work with what you have and make it as good as it gets.

The separation of space (which, for clarification, does not actually need to be in a separate room) will be helpful for you to get into work-mode, as well as exiting work-mode when you need to relax outside of working hours. The ability to disconnect from work is a key factor when working from home.


KEEP ROUTINES

Start your day just how you normally would if you were going into the office. Get out of your pajamas and get dressed. It might be more casual than your usual office-attire, nonetheless – it helps! Eat breakfast, wash your face and brush your teeth. Listen to music that makes you feel good. If you have the option, get out for a walk in the morning. Mimicking a commute to work, along with the fresh air, readies you for the day.

If you are longing after the background noise of an office, Amazon Echo’s Burglar Deterrent feature has a home office sound option, or you can check out any of the many ambience videos on YouTube.


GET FOCUSED

If you share a household with other people, you might want to let them know in advance that you’ll not be available for a period of time because you are working. It can be hard for others to understand when you are, or are not working, if you don’t vocalize it – you are at home, after all.

Are you ready to get started? Great! What are you going to do?

Make a plan! Create a schedule around what time you are the most productive. Write a list of what you want to do today, this week, this month. Set reminders for important tasks and deadlines. Remember to schedule in breaks too, we’ll get back to you why they are important (and suggestions to how you can ‘hang out’ with your colleagues during breaks) in our upcoming part 2. 

When making your schedule, remember to schedule breaks and drink lots of water

Consider turning off unnecessary notifications for a while, and let your coworkers know you’ll be available again soon.

There are multiple studies suggesting different strategies on how to best focus. Of course, you’ll need to figure out what works best for you: silence, ambiance or loud music? Are you more efficient if you try to focus 25, 50 or 90 minutes at a time? 

We are in the app business, and it should come as no surprise that there are many awesome apps to help you focus:

  • A scientific timer-approach: Focus to-do
  • Save the planet while you stay focused: Forest
  • If you are struggling to relax: Calm


GOT KIDS?

We have a lot of employees who are now home with children, and while it’s great to be able to spend more time with our family, it’s important to acknowledge it may prove challenging to keep focus and get work done.

If you have work that requires particular focus and concentration, you might need to postpone it until the evening when your kids have gone to bed.

Running out of ideas? The internet knows it all! There are many tips on how to keep your kids occupied during the quarantine. Make a schedule; read books, engage in something creative, play games, watch movies. Check out Virtual School Activities. You can even visit virtual museums!

This is not the time to stress out and feel bad about extra screen time. The pressure is high and there are absolutely abnormal conditions. It’s not a time to try to be the perfect parent, sometimes just trying your best is good enough.

Keeping routines and a designated space will keep some normality in a situation different from anything we have previously had to deal with. Try various approaches on how to focus when you search for the one best for you, and make sure you let people around you know that you are working and when to not be disturbed.

We will continue in part 2, looking at how to stay healthy and happy.