Stress, distractions and procrastination make being productive challenging at the best of times. I asked my blogging community how they were staying productive and organized during the lock-down, as I’ve found this time in self-isolation has really motivated me, and given me extra time that I don’t usually have. Here are 18 ways to be productive while you’re stuck at home during quarantine.
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1. Manage What You Can And Can’t Do
“This is probably the most important tip of all when it comes to working from home, especially during lock-down, and that is to establish what you can and can’t manage on a daily basis. Being overly ambitious with your goals and daily tasks is THE number one way to make yourself feel like you haven’t accomplished enough, so focus on the smaller tasks. And if you wake up with zero motivation, take a step back, focus on tidying your work space, call those close to you and make some quarantine banana bread (seriously who isn’t baking at this point)?!”
“I’ve summarized my ways to stay productive during quarantine as the acronym “P.L.A.I.N.”
P = Physical workout
L = Learning
A = Accompany
I = Inspire
N = New hobby
Physical workout. I plank everyday once for as long as I can, initially for a short time, then progressively increasing. At present, I can plank for 5 mins 🙂 Yeah!
Learning. I try to learn and advance my skills. For example, I’ve learnt how to make video collage for my social media posts.
Accompany. I have made a point to accompany my mum for daily lunches & also accompany my 2 years old little niece to watch educational programs for at least an hour to build a stronger bond.
Inspire. Doing a self-reflection daily continues to inspire me during quarantine. Feeling thankful that I am healthy, safe and able to continue to work from home during quarantine.
New hobby. I have resumed my hobby of hand drawn doodling and handwriting. It’s not really a new hobby, however it is something I am passionate about and haven’t done for awhile.”
3. Cook The World’s Cuisine
“Since we have been stuck at home, to combat that travel itch we have been cooking a lot of our favourite dishes from around the world. We’ve made Paella from Spain, Tom Yum soup from Thailand and Pelau from Trinidad and Tobago to name a few. Making and eating these dishes has been a very therapeutic way for us to get through this time filled with so much uncertainty. It has not only given us something to do, but it has created a nice way to re-live some of our favourite holidays while we are stuck at home.”
4. Eliminate Distractions
“If you want to be productive when stuck at home, you HAVE to eliminate distractions. I know it can be tempting to turn on the TV to catch up on some Netflix shows but this is a trap. Don’t do it! But Netflix isn’t the only thing that is considered a distraction. A distraction could be anything that would cause you to just want to lay around and do nothing. So figure out what your distractions are and avoid them. Make a list of everything you want to get done and define a timeline to help you stay on track.”
“When you need to focus on some important task working at home, it’s very easy to get distracted. In our era of technology and tight social connections, you might not even notice when exactly you started reading unrelated articles or scrolling through your feed. Fortunately, there are some free useful tools for all kinds of distractions that might get in your way. My favorite at the moment is Pocket: this is where I put all the interesting articles I stumble upon… to read later! The browser extension makes it easy – one click, close, and get back to work. Also, put your phone out of your sight and on mute. A drawer in another room is the best option! You can totally survive an hour or two without notifications unless you are expecting something specific. In this case, turn off all the notifications but that. Get rid of everything that doesn’t serve your current task and you’ll be surprised how productive you may become!”
5. Use A Decent Planner
“My best tip for being productive at home is to use a decent planner. My planner has monthly goals, weekly tasks and daily schedules, and it’s the one thing that has kept the ball rolling for my blogs. I set a monthly goal planning session, and a weekly schedule filling slot (usually on a Sunday night) and it helps me go into my week with a crystal clear action plan. I used to REALLY struggle with decision fatigue, and found I wasted a lot of time just sitting there, trying to work out what to work on. So using a planner has easily doubled my productivity at home.”
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“During quarantine, I checked all my makeup and skincare which was just sitting around since I don’t use all of it. So I organised all of it, which took me about 3 days. I washed my makeup brushes and sponges and threw away some expired products, grouped all the makeup and skincare together which were nearing their expiry date, so that I can dispose of them easily, and arranged my favourites neatly. Looking at my cabinet and how clean and cute it is now makes me a little proud of myself everyday.”
7. Spring Cleaning
“One of my ways to stay productive during quarantine was to spring clean! After the first couple weeks my husband and I were itching for something to do, so we decided this was the perfect time to go through our house and pull out things we didn’t want anymore. Usually this type of cleaning gets pushed out again and again but when you are isolated at home, there are much less distractions to keep us from finishing this task. We went through the entire house: our closets, the kitchen, and the attic which always seems to be the catch-all place for all the things we cannot decide what to do with but cannot seem to part with at the time. We pulled out old clothes that we do longer wear, I found old kitchen utensils that I hadn’t missed so I decided to part with them, and we found items from our single days that we stockpiled in the attic when we moved in together that we couldn’t part with at the time. This quarantined helped as stay on track when it comes to spring cleaning, and also during this time it feels great to donate items to help others.”
8. Write A To-do List
“I found writing a to-do list for each day really helped me focus on staying productive during the quarantine. I like a paper version, where I just note down the things I want to achieve each day. Whenever I’ve achieved a task it gives me so much joy and energy when I am able to cross it off the list. This way I can keep track of what I need and want to do each day and can enjoy me-time even more. If you are a digital person, you can do the same on your phone’s calendar or one of the free project management tools available online.”
9. Stick To Your Schedule
“To stay productive quarantine, I’ve been trying to stick to my regular schedule as much as possible. Even though I might not be in the office, I still get up at the time. My work area might be at my dining room table, but during regularly scheduled hours, it might as well be my office. I take breaks around the same time, and then when work is done, I check out. You don’t want to become lazy but you also don’t want to burn out. It’s hard to stay productive when you’re working ALL the time. Just because you have your work laptop at home doesn’t mean you need to be on it all the time.”
“I have been working from home for the last two months due to the quarantine and my wife is also battling cancer. Here are some ways I stay productive and focused. I go to bed at a set time and get up at the same time. I make my bed right away and make sure the room is clean. After a shower and breakfast, I write down my routine and stick to it. I stay connected with my family but make sure work is done and do not get too involved in social media. Also, I eat three healthy meals and focus on writing what I am grateful for and do breathing exercises. And, I focus on the big picture. We will make it through this. I stay positive, focused and realize I cannot control anything.”
10. An Effective Morning Routine
“I have found having specific routines in place has really helped me remain productive during the quarantine. The first few days of having nowhere to be, I found myself sleeping in, staying in sweatpants and getting very little accomplished. Knowing this couldn’t continue I decided to sit down and lay out an easy but effective morning routine.I wake up early and take an hour to do some things for myself that boost my energy and set the tone for my day. I incorporate things like exercise, journaling and a healthy breakfast. Having this time to take care of myself and clear my head before I tackle my long list of to dos sets me up for success. By rewarding myself early on in the day I am motivated to move forward with everything I need to get done over the course of my day.”
“Personally, I find the key to a productive day at home is in starting off on the right foot. Having a solid morning routine in place to awaken your mind, nourish your body, and nurture your soul is essential! I am way less likely to drag my feet and will get a much earlier start to the day when I have a morning routine I look forward to.”
“I’d say one way to stay productive while you’re at home is to upcycle something old. I struggle with wanting to buy new things, and because I never have the time to make things on a regular basis, I just buy stuff. Upcycling old clothes and painting over decorations have given me a new hobby when I am bored and fixed the itch of buying something new.”
12. Make Future Travel Plans
“Plan new adventures! Travel may be limited or nonexistent at the moment, but my husband and I stay productive during our non-working hours by planning future trips. Since we’ve both been working from home and saving money on gas, dining out, travel, etc., we’re adding those savings to our travel budget and figuring out where the extra money can take us. We almost always plan our trips months in advance–often that’s how we snag great deals–but right now planning has the added benefit of boosting our mental state and morale. Being stuck at home for weeks on end has taken a mental toll, but imaging ourselves traveling to new destinations in the (hopefully near) future is therapeutic. (Not to mention, there may be some awesome travel deals out there!) Looking back at old travel photos, organizing them into scrapbooks and albums, and reliving those memories is another great form of therapy–a reminder of how our lives once were and will be again. Someday the world will reopen and travel will resume, so explore your options!”
13. Continue Learning
“This period is not ideal. But everything bad is happening for something good, so I dedicate this time mainly to self-realization in the form of various online courses. At first, I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it and that it would be boring, but somehow I fell in love with it. There are many online sites that offer courses with different subjects, for example Business Management, IT Computer science, Literature and much more. Many of them also offer free self-education opportunities. I have tried a few of them and for myself, I can recommend the page https://www.futurelearn.com/. The site is very easy to navigate and I am sure that everybody who wants to learn something new will find something there. One of the biggest pluses of this website is that you can use the comment section which is very interactive and gives you the opportunity to get connected with other people doing that course. And all this is for free. My favorite courses are Writing fiction, Understanding IELTS, Introduction to business management, and now I try to give a chance to Programming for everybody although I am completely awful with computers and technology.”
“One way to stay productive when you are stuck at home is to continue to learn! And thankfully there are plenty of ways to learn even while at home. To not put unrealistic expectations on yourself, choose a topic or two that you already enjoy and learn more about it.
I love to learn by listening to podcasts, reading or taking a challenge or course online. The action of learning something new helps me to focus on a small goal and feel like I have something to look forward to for the day! Instead of life feeling stagnant, learning keeps me productive and growing!
14. Virtual Co-working
“Try hosting virtual coworking sessions on Zoom with your peers using the 25-minute silent work session followed by a 5-minute break and then repeat as necessary.”
15. Just Do 5 Minutes
“I have a tip that really helps me boost my productivity. If there’s a long, dreadful task awaiting you that you just keep avoiding, give yourself ONLY 5 minutes to tackle it. Starting is often the hardest part because you know that you’re going to be doing something unpleasant for a while and that it’s going to be hard, so you just don’t start to avoid it altogether. 5 minutes is a really short amount of time so it’s easy to motivate yourself. Say you have a long presentation you need to work on and you just keep pushing it back. Well, tell yourself that you are only going to work on it for 5 minutes, and give it all you’ve got. After these 5 minutes are up, two things can happen. Most likely, you will actually keep going for longer than 5 minutes because starting was the hardest part. Or you will stop, but you will be closer to your end goal and have realized that it isn’t as hard as you thought. Later on, it will be easier to pick up where you left off. This really helps boost your productivity!”
“One thing that increases productivity, and is often neglected or overlooked is self-care. When you work from home, there’s a tendency to set your physical and mental health aside. Excuses like, ‘Well I’m not leaving the house’, or ‘No-one is going to see me anyway’, can get in the way of some much deserved self-care. Taking care of yourself should be a top priority. Even amidst all the work, deadlines and family responsibilities. The reality is that if you neglect yourself, you simply won’t be as productive.”
17. Make Use Of What’s Stored In The Freezer
“I am on a never-ending quest to use the produce I stored in my freezer from last year’s garden. So far, during quarantine, I’ve made blueberry lime jam and blueberry syrup from frozen berries. I’ve made chocolate chip zucchini bread with frozen zucchini shreds, and I also made rhubarb jam with frozen, chopped rhubarb. I know I am going to need to defrost the freezer at some point this summer, so the fewer items I have in there, the better. All of the things I’ve made have been super easy, and now we have a more well-stocked pantry. Win win!”
18. Find The Right Balance
“Quarantine has taken a lot away from people, but in return has given us the gift of time. I love the feeling of being productive; I’m sure everyone does. However, I have learned that I can be over productive. Yes you read that right. I have finished an entire to-do list in one day and then I had nothing to do for the rest of the week. I have started a new habit of limiting my to-do list to 3 or 4 things and then taking my time and doing those things the best that I can. For example: Let’s say that cleaning the kitchen is on your list. Instead of throwing dishes into the dishwasher and moving onto the next thing, you’ll have time to clean off appliances, throw out expired food, wipe down the countertop, and sweep and mop the floor. Don’t forget that while it is good to be productive, remember to take time to relax, talk with loved ones; It is okay to spend the entire day on the couch binge watching Tiger King. It’s all about balance.”
I hope these tips help you tackle procrastination and enable you to be more productive during self-isolation. If you’re interested in more quarantine related tips, check out “15 Self-Care Activities For Anxiety Relief During Self-Isolation” here.
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