Four Steps To Be Productive During Quarantine
The majority of people in Maryland have been at home for roughly a month now due to COVID-19. A common challenge has been keeping the same level of productive output while adapting to the new work environment. In a perfect world, we would all be able to produce the same quality of work in our new work environment. But at home, we are surrounded by distractions.
Before the quarantine, I would do the majority of my work in a public place, either at a coffee shop or a library. Now, as I sit in the bedroom that has been transformed into my office, I find myself in the mood to rest and relax more than ever. For me, my bedroom has always been my sanctuary, the place to unwind and be free from work.
During the first couple of weeks, I found myself taking longer than usual to get to work. In week three I decided to create a four-step plan on how I was going to be productive.
Four-step productivity plan
Step 1 – Rituals
I have always found rituals to be essential before starting anything important. As a lifelong athlete, I discovered and nurtured rituals in my warm-up before playing a soccer match or performing in a weightlifting competition. Now I had to develop a whole new set of rituals, ones focused on being productive.
Before the quarantine, my rituals would begin during my drive to the location I planned on working on that day. During my trip, I would listen to a podcast or audiobook for the majority of the commute. The last ten minutes were reserved for a playlist I created to get me motivated.
This listening time has been inserted after breakfast, into a thirty-minute block at 6:30 a.m. I listen to my audiobook for twenty minutes, then my playlist for ten minutes while outside on my deck sipping a cup of tea or coffee.
At 7:00 a.m. I sit in my room and write down all the tasks that need to be performed for the day, as well as how I’m feeling. This task usually takes about thirty minutes to complete. From here I give myself the option to either read a leadership book or sit down at my computer; it all depends on how I’m feeling.
My goal is to be sitting at my “office desk,” ready to go, by 8:00 a.m. Right now, more than ever, I have found new rituals an essential part of helping me stay focused and perform at my most optimal level.
2 – Calendar
My digital calendar has become a staple in my productivity. I continue to fill it out daily. I set periods for myself for when I’m going to work, eat lunch, and workout.
If you, like me, are surrounded by your family during this quarantine, it’s important everyone understands that ‘scheduled” alone time is OK. With this in mind and extending it to my work family, it’s important to respect the time of everyone I interact with. When I have to ask a team member something, the first question I ask is, “Do you have a minute?” My team knows I respect their time just much as I respect my own.
3 – Partners
This next part of staying productive has been a huge savior for me. Being the youngest of three brothers, I learned quickly to work as a member of a collective; this has taught me the value of teams and partners. I have been fortunate to have my oldest brother in the same house as me during this time of quarantine. Together we have built a dynamic of how we work together. There has been a mutual understanding that we both have our mornings for our tasks, and then we meet up at 11:00 a.m. for our daily workout.
The consistency of having someone to hold me accountable to get my workout done has been a great help to keep me balanced and focused. After we finish our work out and lunch break, we then collaborate on any of the endeavors that we are brewing.
4 – Decompression
The last part that has helped me during this quarantine has been decompression. As I said, I’ve been into sports my whole life, and all athletes know the importance of rest and recovery.
During this last month, I have placed more emphasis on giving myself time to decompress. I have a tight sleep schedule that has allowed me to perform at an optimal level. I have been going to bed earlier and make sure to have lights out by 9:00 p.m.
Right now, more than ever, it’s easy to fall into patterns of relaxing and using our homes exclusively as a place to rest. Most people are used to going to an offsite location to get their work done. In short, being productive during this time of quarantine is a constant battle.
I have found these four steps to help me perform as best as can be expected during these difficult circumstances. Since I began looking for a new at-home productive approach I have found my time being utilized much more effectively and have been able to maintain my optimism for the future.