January 19th, 2021

5 easy ways you can be more focused and productive in lockdown

Long winter nights and emotional burnout from the psychological effects of the lockdown mean it’s easy to let your productivity slip when you’re working from home.

The government’s announcement of a third national lockdown could mean that you might be working from home until Easter. That’s why it’s important to maintain good working habits so you can stay productive whatever the situation.

If you’ve been having trouble focusing whilst working from home, here are five ways that you can be more productive in lockdown.

1. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep

If you want to be productive, the best way to start off your day is to make sure you’re well rested. According to a report published in the Financial Times, poor sleep costs the UK economy £30 billion each year in lost productivity.

Not getting enough sleep can cause you to have trouble focusing. It can take longer to complete a task, and you may have more trouble with creative tasks.

Getting enough sleep isn’t just about the length of sleep though, it’s also about quality. Sleep hygiene is important if you want to stay well rested. Here’s a few of the easiest ways to improve your sleep hygiene:

  • Have a fixed sleep schedule
  • Avoid electronic devices in the hour before bedtime
  • Cut down on caffeine, especially in the afternoon
  • Make sure your bedroom is at a comfortable temperature
  • Limit your alcohol consumption

2. Take regular breaks

It might sound counterintuitive but scheduling breaks into your workday can boost your efficiency and improve your mood. It can sometimes be easy to ‘zone out’ when doing a task that isn’t particularly engaging, but this can obviously hurt your productivity.

Separating your workday up into smaller chunks with short breaks in between can be a good way to prevent this, ensuring that you’re always giving a task your full attention when working.

One popular method of managing your workload is the 50/10 strategy, in which you work for 50 minutes and then take ten-minute breaks to rest and recharge your internal batteries. Similarly, the 25/5 strategy can also be a good way of breaking up your workday to help you stay focused whilst working.

However, since everybody has different preferences and rhythms of work, you may want to experiment to find the best routine for you so you can maximise your productivity.

3. Keep the ‘two-minute’ rule

If you find that you procrastinate small tasks, such as answering emails, they may start to build up. When they do, their combined size may cause you to stress and this can negatively affect your productivity.

Many tasks that you may procrastinate on aren’t actually difficult to do, even if you don’t want to do them. This is why productivity consultant David Allen’s ‘two-minute’ rule states that if a task can be done in two minutes or less, it should be done immediately.

This is because sorting these tasks out before they have a chance to build up can prevent you from wasting time worrying about them. It also helps you to avoid the detrimental effect of stress on your productivity.

4. Make sure you get enough exercise

There are many benefits to getting regular exercise, and improved productivity is one of them. Exercise increases the flow of blood to the brain, which can have a positive effect on workplace performance.

Even small amounts of exercise, such as a brief walk, can have a noticeable effect on your mood, creativity, and ability to concentrate on a task. This can be particularly important in winter when the short hours of daylight can sap our spirits and make it hard to focus.

If you don’t have time before or after work, you could consider some light exercise during your breaks. Research has shown that even short bursts of exercise during the workday have a significant positive impact on performance.

5. Ensure that you have a good work-life balance

One of the biggest challenges facing people who work from home is maintaining a good work-life balance. When you’re working from an office, it can be easy to turn off as soon as you step out of the door, but remote working has caused the distinction to blur.

If you aren’t able to maintain a good work-life balance, you may find that your mental health suffers. A report by BUPA, published in the Financial Times, stated that calls to their wellbeing advice line regarding emotional exhaustion had tripled since the pandemic began.

This burnout can lead to emotional exhaustion, and you may find that your productivity understandably falls.

One of the best ways to prevent this is to set a schedule for work and stick to it. Making sure that you don’t work outside these hours can help you prevent workplace stress from affecting your free time.

Having a dedicated workspace, such as a home office, can also help you to separate your work life from your home life, allowing you to rest and recharge your batteries.

If you want to know more about how you can maintain a better work-life balance, click here to download our free guide.

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