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How to stay productive during the COVID-19 lockdown

Article provided by PayFast

Life as we knew it changed at midnight on Thursday, 26th March when President Ramaphosa announced a three week country-wide lockdown in an attempt to flatten the COVID-19 curve. While people working in essential industries such as healthcare and food production were exempted, for the majority of us we found ourselves in an unprecedented situation where we weren’t allowed to leave our homes unless to stock up on essential supplies such as food and medicine, or to seek medical care.

While it’s true that unprecedented times come with unprecedented measures, as a human race we are quick to adapt, innovate and make the most of any situation that we find ourselves in. Being a tech company, we at PayFast were able to quickly adapt to the self-distancing measures by allowing our employees to work from home.

While we are only a few days into the country-wide lockdown, it’s important for us all to keep a healthy body and mind. We’ve put together a list of some important tips that can help you get through this time of house-bound isolation.

Set up a dedicated working space

While it may be tempting to spend the work day in bed or on the couch with your laptop resting on a pillow, this can prove to be an unproductive way of working. If you don’t have a home office already, it’s now essential that you turn a dedicated room or nook into one. You can turn any desk or table into a workstation by decorating it with all of your essentials, such as stationary, a power supply for your computer and, most importantly, an always-full mug of hot coffee within arms reach. Add a comfortable chair that offers support and you’re good to go.

Ideally, your workstation should be situated in a quiet room like a spare bedroom to avoid distraction from young children or playful pets. This will also ensure uninterrupted conference calls with your remote teammates.

Keep a routine

While the prospect of being able to work from home may be a dream come true for many office commuters, in reality spending the day in your PJs with unbrushed hair loses its appeal after a while. Being surrounded by the same four walls 24/7 can quickly lead to cabin fever if you have no direction. It’s therefore important to stick to a daily routine to keep your mind occupied, and of course to get important work done to safeguard your job or business.

To ensure productivity, base your new lockdown schedule on a typical pre-COVID-19 workday. For example:

  • Set your alarm for the same time (or treat yourself to an extra 30 minute lie-in if your previous commute was lengthy)
  • Do a yoga session or workout followed by a shower
  • Catch up with the latest news over breakfast
  • Get dressed and start your work day in your dedicated workspace
  • Take coffee breaks every few hours as you would have in the office, and of course your full lunch break away from your computer screen
  • Clock off as you normally would at the end of the work day
  • Spend the rest of the evening relaxing as you normally would
  • Keep to your bedtime
  • Wake up and repeat

You should also stick to a routine during your dedicated working hours. For example, if you are most productive and creative in the morning then focus on important tasks during this time, and dedicate the afternoon to replying to emails and catching up on other mundane tasks. Also communicate with your teammates so that they are aware of your routine, and to schedule daily or weekly catchup video calls to ensure that you are all on the same page regarding tasks that need to be accomplished.

Stay connected

Self-isolation can get pretty lonely, especially if you are a sociable individual whose daily highlight was catching up with your colleagues around the water cooler. Thankfully, technology can facilitate almost the next best thing: online chats and video calls.

At PayFast, we were already using Rocket.Chat to stay connected with one another throughout the day to chat about everything work related. (There are also a few chat rooms dedicated to not-so-serious topics if we feel like a bit of a laugh). Since we’ve all been working from home we’ve also been using video conference tools like Google Hangouts Meet and Zoom for important meetings and daily catch ups.

Communication is key to know what is going on with your colleagues, and also for your own mental health. As mentioned in the previous point about keeping a routine, it’s important to schedule regular virtual meetings to ensure work is getting done and to check in to see how everyone is doing under lockdown.

Stay active

Whether it’s a quick morning stretching session or a full-on at home workout, make sure to schedule some sort of exercise on a daily basis. There are some amazing home workout apps available such as Nike Training and 7 Minute Workouts that don’t require equipment. There are also an abundance of YouTube videos that can guide you through different exercise and yoga routines, and even some more fun activities that can involve your kids.

To make it more interesting, you can challenge your friends and coworkers to a workout competition to motivate one another during lockdown.

Do those things that you always wished you had time to do

Last but not least, make the most out of being at home! You now have no excuse to not do all of those things that you always wished you had time to do. For example catching up on your favourite TV shows, gaming, reading, spending more time with your kids, completing an online course, starting a new hobby or even starting an online business. If your business has been affected or even shut down during the lockdown period, then this is now the perfect opportunity to brainstorm how you can diversify your existing business into online.

While lockdown is still a new concept that we are trying to get our heads around, soon enough we will get used to it. What’s important is to stay positive, follow the lockdown rules and keep in mind that this too shall pass.

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