Tips for staying productive whilst working at home

wfh

More and more, people are taking advantage of the freedom and flexibility to work at home, rather than in the traditional office space. And now with coronavirus sweeping across the world, more of us will be finding ourselves at home. With that comes a certain mind-set shift to ensure we stay productive and on top of our work as much as we can. Here are some tips:

Create yourself a workspace – it’s tempting to grab your laptop and chill in bed whilst you work. But that won’t help get yourself into work mode – or help you switch off later at night. Find a space away from your bed to work peacefully, whether that be the kitchen table, the sofa in your living room or a desk in the bedroom. Having clear separation between work and relaxation will help put yourself in the right frame of mind.

Get dressed – similarly, getting yourself out of your pyjamas and into some everyday clothes shifts your mood from lounging to work mode. It doesn’t have to be a full on suit or tonnes of make-up, but putting on proper clothes can really help to boost your productivity.

Set up a group chat – how many times do you ask the colleagues sitting around you a question? I do all the time! If you’re lucky enough to have Skype, Microsoft teams, Slack, or another instant messaging services on your laptop, use it to your advantage to ask questions, delegate, or discuss tasks. Even WhatsApp could work. This will also help you not feel so alone if you’re not used to work at home.

Put away the distractions – whilst you might take more advantage of the freedoms of being at home, like listening to music whilst you work, make sure you don’t find yourself giving into more temptations – like scrolling through Instagram, getting sucked into a YouTube video spree, or online shopping – just because nobody is around to see you do it. Put away your phone if you need to.

Try the Pomodoro method – if you find it hard to stop yourself from succumbing to your distractions or you find yourself constantly finding something to do other than the work you’re meant to be doing, try the Pomodoro technique. It consists of breaking down your worktime into 25 minute chunks with short breaks in between. That way, you always know when you can check your phone or make a tea during your next break and focus on the task at hand when it’s time to work.

If you have any of your own tips, let us know in the comments below. Happy working from home!

 

How to approach a new challenge practically

Taking on a new challenge can be thrilling. But the excitement can also wear off and quickly turn into overwhelm or dread when we think about our goal. Passion is essential, but some practical steps can really help us stay on track:

  1. Take it a week or a month at a time – instead of looking at the habits you want to form as ones you’ll need to live by forever or looking at goals as ones that will take years to achieve, dedicate yourself to your new challenge for a week or month. This could be challenging yourself to a new habit for a month or splitting out your goal into mini-goals that take you in the right direction. Having a ‘deadline’ in reach really helps to push yourself, stick to it and remind yourself that its doable. At the end, not only can you celebrate, but accomplishing it will leave you wanting to do more.
  2. Plan it out – there’s no point in throwing yourself into something without first having a plan of action. A habit tracker that you can tick off every day or a calendar where you schedule in time to reach your goal helps to keep you accountable and organised, ultimately helping you deliver! Otherwise you’ll quickly find that you aren’t getting anywhere.
  3. Have a place to visualise – keep your sights set on that goal you’re trying to reach every day. I like to use a Pinterest board to collect pictures that represent my goals. Other ideas include a physical vision board on the bedroom wall or a daily morning ritual of visualising yourself accomplishing your goals. Whatever works for you!

Have any practical tips of your own? Please share in the comments!

Tips for Negotiating and Influencing Other People

Compromise donkey

Recently I listened to an audiobook version of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, which inspired me to attend a workshop at my university called ‘Persuading, Influencing and Negotiating Skills’. I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learnt about negotiating with other people and influencing or persuading them.

The key to negotiating and influencing people is simple: understand what it is you want and understand what the other person wants. Both are essential, you cannot go into a negotiation or try to influence someone without also considering them. A negotiation is precisely a compromise between two parties, a win-win.

  1. Come up with the best case scenario for what it is that you want from the other person and then come up with other strategies according to your priorities – you may not get everything you want because negotiating with another person may highlight contradictions with the other person’s best case scenario or priorities.
  2. Try to build a relationship with that person before the negotiation or before trying to influence them into something. This builds confidence, respect, and a (professional) friendship. The following points should also help you do that.
  3. With this being said, you need to do some research or put some thought into what the other person may want or need – how can you twist those things you want or need into positives for them and potentially into things they want or need? What could you trade for something you have really prioritised? You need to keep looking at the positives and how you can collaborate rather than focusing on the conflicts that arise from the contradictions between your strategies.
  4. Therefore, don’t criticise and argue with the other person – all that will do is make them resentful and make any sort of negotiation or compromise difficult because they will both not feel comfortable around you and only be focusing on the conflicts rather than the potential compromises. Again, focus on the positives and the potential collaborations.
  5. Your attitude is essential to gaining confidence with the other person and building rapport – listen to the other person’s opinions and needs, show respect for those things through appreciation and encouragement, and remember to keep an open mind through looking at that person’s point of view.
  6. But that doesn’t mean you need to let the other person walk over you: be confident and positive in your approach and the other person will respect you too. It is a two-way street, otherwise any negotiation will never have the best outcome.

Tips for Keeping Motivated

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Taylor Swift said in Vanity Fair’s April 2013 magazine interview: “I’m the type of person, I have to study to get an A on the test, I have to work really hard to get a record deal – I have to spend years at it to get it good. I have to practice to be good at the guitar. I have to write 100 songs before you write the first good one.” It is comforting to know that someone with seven Grammys, and who is the only female artist to have three consecutive albums at No. 1 on the Billboard 100 for six weeks or more, has to work hard. She’s ordinary. It didn’t happen overnight. She had to work to get to where she is. It reminds us that all success worth having is the type of success you have to work for. Working hard is part of the journey and its what makes the outcome so great.

We all have to do little, and most possibly mundane, things to get to where we want to go, whether it’s just to pass a test or to achieve a life goal. And sometimes it can be hard to keep motivated, especially if it’s something you don’t particularly enjoy or you know it’s going to be a long task. So here are some tips for getting and staying motivated:

  • Get enough sleep – I would say at least 8 hours if you want to get a day’s work in.
  • When you wake up, get in the shower and get dressed – this will rejuvenate you and it will automatically make you feel ready to face the day with energy!
  • Eat a good breakfast – after all, it is the most important meal of the day!
  • Work in an area that is clean, and devoid of all clutter and distractions.
  • If you’re working towards a big goal, break it down into more achievable sections to make it more manageable and seem more accomplishable – you have to be able to believe you can do it!
  • Make a checklist of everything that you want to accomplish that day – but be reasonable! Not only will this keep you organised, but it’s also very satisfying to cross things off once you’ve completed them. The more you cross off, the more you want to cross off everything else, which spurs you to complete task after task. When the day is over, you really get a sense of how much you’ve done and you can then reward yourself for having accomplished what you wanted. At the same time, be positive and don’t beat yourself up if you are not able to complete everything; learn from it and make a more manageable checklist the next day!
  • Do one thing at a time, rather than starting a load of things at the same time – this will assure you that things are getting done!
  • Reward yourself – not only will this give you something to look forward to but it will also let your brain have a break. But make sure you get back to the task at hand. Remember, accomplishing your tasks is a reward in itself!
  • Finally, try to enjoy what you’re doing – it can be hard, but if you can enjoy what you’re doing, it won’t seem such a chore and it will go all the more faster!

p.s. Inspirational quotes are also very motivating! Here’s one to get you started: “They can because they think they can” – Virgil