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Practical thoughts on being productive while in self-isolation

Stuck at home? Well, you’re not alone. But despite all the irritation that you’re going through, it’s a great time for reflection. Lots of it. Having the opportunity to reevaluate your life amidst crises is nothing short of a boon. Make the most of it.

Unless you’re infected and need care, you’re probably working at your day job from home. The best thing you can do right now is to focus on building a daily and weekly routine. If you have one, great! Concentrate on making it work because that’s what most people struggle with.

The first step, of course, is to plan for the next day. Create a list of 5-6 most important things (MITs) you would like to accomplish the next day. If there are more, add them in, but you only touch them after having processed all of your MITs. Simple enough? Now comes the tough one.

Your actual work day will now be quite different from the usual at the workplace. Your whole family’s home after all. And that’s where you have to set boundaries. You have to communicate what and how you intend to work and stay productive for the next little while. Introduce them the idea of focused-blocks and how it works so they precisely know your availability.

That said, you’ve got to get into the habit of working in focused-blocks of 60 or 90 minutes with 10 minute breaks in between. A half-an-hour break every 3 blocks. Something like this:

9-10:30 am: Deep Work
10:30-10:40 am: Break
10:40-12:10 pm: Deep Work
12:10-12:20 pm: Break
12:20-1:50 pm: Deep Work
1:50-2:20pm: Long Break

You get the idea. Aim for 5-6 focused blocks in a day and you won’t have to worry about productivity ever. And you’re free to do whatever you want after the final block. For most, spending time with family is a no-brainer while for others doing something together might be more appealing. Do what works for you.

The key is to remember that:

1) Discussing this schedule/routine with the family is the key to let them know that working from home doesn’t mean you’ll do laundry or help with household chores (except on the weekends, maybe?).
2) It’s not the end of the world. Your work will continue as usual but from your bedroom (or study room, if you’re lucky like me!).

Now, go, make a ruckus while working from home!