5 Ways To Increase Productivity While Working At Home (In an African Context)

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities

The novel virus Covid-19 is changing the world right before our eyes and in REAL TIME!

 Our daily routines have all but disappeared and we’re all contending with working remotely and mostly from home.

For me; in some ways this is an ideal situation because I don’t have to deal with the hassle that is public transport – what do noisy taxi conductors have against clean vehicles?

For parent’s it’s probably a lot less ideal given the numerous distractions in the home environment (one of my co-workers legit had to work from her bathroom as it was the ONLY place she had privacy from her toddlers, and not for long!

 I, for one – have to deal with the mini poultry farm project my neighbor has going, you never know how much embarrassment you can deal with until you have to explain the chicken noises in the background on an international Google Hangouts meeting. For others, a number of distractions can affect your productivity.  

In this article I’m just going to do you the solid favor of highlighting 5 tips you can apply to get around various distractions and boost your productivity at home.

  1. Find a dedicated work space in your home.

Try to find yourself a dedicated and comfortable spot to work that you can associate with your job and leave when you’re off the clock. Just because you’re working home doesn’t mean you can’t have an ‘office.’ I Remember even as a child growing up in this banana republic, (I’m in Uganda you see) I always had spots to retire to and cause mayhem in peace. Little wonder that to date many parents associate the silence of a child with destruction. So, find the adult version of these places instead of spending the whole day in spots designed for leisure like the sofa or your bedroom; have a spot designed specifically for work.

2. Establish work hours

You might think that working from home means anytime is work time. If this is you – you never had siblings to deal with when it was ‘homework’ time! If you want to be productive, I highly recommend setting specific hours aside just for work. You could give yourself breaks say at 11am, 1:00pm and say 3:00pm – so you don’t feel too overwhelmed. During the time designated for working, clarify what is or wasn’t acceptable to do during that time. Ask yourself, “If I was in an office, would I do this task during the day?” If the answer is no, that activity can be done before or after your “office hours.” Household chores, watching TV, and spending time with friends and family doing Tik Tok challenges can all be done after work hours.

3. Set boundaries with those around you.

It is easy for those around you to assume that just because you’re home, you are available for non-work-related activities. This might be particularly difficult when you have young children or siblings who are UpToDate with all the new Netflix shows… but you will have to firmly let them know that between a set period of time (based on the working hours we talked about earlier) you aren’t available. Lay down your limits so they can respect your work hours like they would if you were still going to the office. Ironically this is also kinder to your kids than playing with them on some days and not others. Personally, I like to shut the world out with a nice set of headphones, nothing says “Unavailable” like earphones

4. Structure your day like you would in the office.

Without things like the water cooler & office gossip or an in-person meeting schedule to break up your day, it can be easy to lose focus or burn out. So, set your start time, midday break periods and what time you’ll clock out for the day. Segment what you have to do and when over the course of the day you will do it.  If you have an online calendar, create personal events and reminders that tell you when to shift gears and start on new tasks.

5. Make African Internet Speeds your ‘ally’.

So… Who else hates their ISP right about now? Well if you have an internet provider as horrible as mine it’s actually harder to be productive. So – I like to plan my tasks differently depending on if my internet is at its peak or at its lowest. The tasks that require a lot of research on the internet are done in the morning when it’s fastest and those that don’t require a lot of internet are done in the afternoon. By planning around these limitations, I am able to be really productive. So likewise, whatever distraction you have, plan your day and tasks ahead of them.

It takes discipline to work at home. It will take you a while to get a hang of things but if you follow these tips, you will find it a lot easier.

 And now if you will excuse me, a chicken is ‘going to get lost ‘in the banana plantation.

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