YD Talks: How to stay productive while working or studying from home

Believe it or not, I have a decent amount of experience in this field. Ever since I began working full time at YD, I’ve done it from all parts of the world… but 99% of the time, I’ve done it from my home.

Working from home is boring, un-productive, and is filled with distractions. I won’t lie. Being alone at home every day can sometimes affect your mood, and that tends to undermine one’s productivity. You’re less likely to report to work exactly on time, and under the lack of supervision, chances are you’ll have Netflix or YouTube open in a browser window right beside your work. To be honest, remote work isn’t for everyone, and just like it takes time to get into the rhythm of a new job, it takes time to adjust to the new experience of working from home. The good news is that this shift, for the most part, isn’t permanent. It’s a phase that’ll soon pass, and recognizing that really helps you work/study better.

This Is Covidiculous

Given the threat posed by COVID-19, a majority of companies and schools around the world are shutting their doors and instituting temporary ‘stay-at-home’ policies to prevent the risk of spreading the virus. Several colleges on the east coast are telling their students to stay at home, while larger institutions like NYU are shifting to online-based courses as a stopgap solution. Companies like Google and Washington Post have shut their offices too, and I can only imagine what living in parts of China, Italy, South Korea, Japan, and Iran feels like, where the situation on the ground is even more serious.

If you’re a designer or student who’s being told to work/study from home, here are a few ways to avoid the stay-at-home blues and actually be productive and get stuff done.

Separate your Work Life and Home Life

The biggest problem, or complaint rather, with working from home is that it undermines the sanctity of your home being your place of zen, to escape work. People prefer keeping their work in the workplace, and not bringing that stress back home with them… so when you have to reply to emails, make powerpoints, or attend conference calls from the comfort of your bed, that boundary gets blurred.

If you want to effectively work or study from home, un-blur that boundary by separating your workspace from your home space. Fix a designated spot like a desk or the dining table for your working or studying rather than opening your book or laptop in bed. Being productive is a state of mind and needless to say, being in bed won’t help you reach it.

Take breaks / Stay Social

Nobody ever works or studies non-stop for 5-6 hours. Every couple of moments, you feel inclined to stretch, talk to the person beside you, or convene near the water-cooler for some chit-chat. When you bring work home, it’s important to bring that work culture home too. Keep in touch with friends or colleagues via chatting apps. If you’re more of a lone-wolf at work or school, try surrounding yourself with chatter by listening to music or a podcast. If you like reading articles, I recommend checking out Read2Me, a website that does a pretty amazing job of reading out articles to you.

Reward yourself by setting goals

Sometimes (if you’re a little like me) those breaks become a little longer than usual. A 10-minute coffee run perhaps stretches to half an hour long. You promise to watch one YouTube video suddenly you realize you’ve wasted half a day. The best way to hack yourself into being productive is to use the carrot and stick tactic. Start looking at that break as a goal you need to achieve by completing a task. Rather than just getting up to grab a coffee at a certain hour, allow yourself the coffee only after having completed a task or a chapter. That way, the break feels more deserved, so taking a few minutes extra won’t matter either… because you got work done in the process!

Learn a new skill / Work on a passion project

Here’s where working/studying from home is truly a blessing in disguise. It gives you the independence and freedom to actually focus on stuff you wouldn’t be able to at work or in college! Try learning new software, reading a book, building or updating your portfolio, or working on self-initiated projects! You could finally carve out a few hours in the week to take part in one of Instagram’s many designing and rendering challenges, or better still, work on an idea for a product you’ve had in your head for a while now. And when it’s ready, send it over to a design competition, or submit it to us and maybe it could get featured on a design blog!

The absence of a boss’s supervision or a college’s rigorous schedule can be exploited to achieve amazing things!

Give yourself something to look forward to

Some people love working from home, some people don’t. That’s just how the cookie crumbles. If you’re the latter, just remember that setting goals helps you get to them. A footballer without a goalpost is just a person kicking a sphere (I made that up myself!) The best way to get through the day is to look forward to something at the end of it, like a movie or a game. Looking forward to a plan at the end of the day is a great way to get through work/studying without the blues getting to you… and while you’re at it, remember three things. Remember not to slip into bad habits like randomly opening Instagram every few minutes to check for messages, remember that this is just a temporary phase and you’ll be back at work or college before too long, and most importantly, remember to wash your hands! Stay safe, YD fam!