A few tips on how to effectively work from home in Mauritius

Ever since we’re on lockdown due to the pandemic, I’ve been asked by a few friends and families around me how do I manage to work from home? I know it is some tough times that we’re going through, and I can say it’s not an easy task, but with careful planning, time management and discipline, you can achieve a great deal.

Planning & Time Management.

I’m not just talking about your workday or tasks you have to do, but you will be staying at home for the whole time. 

What most people do is jump directly into work. That is the biggest mistake you can make. At the end of the day, you will find that you weren’t productive, and all hell broke loose, now that everyone is at home.

Don’t jump right into work, but take the time to sit and discuss with your family, significant other and bring them in for those of you who have kids. Everyone should understand the situation as well as the responsibilities that everyone has.

Let’s start with those who have kids. I find that planing out their activities in advance and have beautiful handmade charts works excellent. I learned from my younger sister, a mother of four, the reward system for achieving each daily goal. I’ve never seen kids so motivated to do their homework and house chores. The reward could be anything from tasty treats to 45mins of TV time.

For the new parents, I know that your bundle of joy can be overwhelming, but now it’s planning both your activities and how you will tackle them. First thing first, you have to be honest with yourself. You will never be sitting 8 hours straight on your chair working. You will be getting up every now and then. So plan your work schedules on 20 to 30 and 30 to 45 minutes sprints with a 15 minutes break. The trick here is that one of you will have 15 minutes head start.

Like that, you have loads of time to take care of your baby and do your work. Keep the longer sprints for when the baby is sleeping.

Another thing is couples. Guys! Do not be selfish! Take turns making tea or coffee as well as snacks for each other. During your breaks, do a little chore, like doing the dishes, wipe the countertop, pass the broom, put the laundry to wash.

Before we can move the working part, you will need working space. Find a beautiful, quiet corner that you can see what is going around you, but at the same time not being distracted or in the way of the household foot traffic. This will be your work for the next few weeks, so give it a personal touch to make it feel and look comfortable.

Now that we have established our daily routine, we can now move to work planning. Of course, everyone does not have the same situation at home; some of us live alone, in couples, couples with a baby, some with toddlers. Some of us work for ourselves while others work for a company or with a remote team. So set your calendar with your available working hours and predefined breaks. It would help to share that calendar with your team, so they can plan their work accordingly or know when you are available for that conference call.

It all comes down to productivity.

I’ve been working from home for almost a decade now, and trust me, all of the benefits associated with it require you to do one thing: maximise productivity. Once you do this, everything starts falling into place, and you begin to realise the full benefits of working remotely.

You get more done, feel better about your work and have more time to call your own. The knock-on effects are greater happiness, reduced stress and stronger relationships with the people who matter most to you.

This doesn’t happen automatically, though. With the wrong approach, working from home can eat into your personal life, increase stress and hinder your relationships in ways a regular office job never would.Again, it all comes down to productivity.

These productivity tools will give you the advantage you need in terms of getting more done, faster. This will enable you to develop healthy working habits (e.g., switching off after work) because you can afford to, knowing that you’ve already done enough today. Like I say, maximise productivity, and everything good about working from home will fall into place.

10 best apps for working from home.

Flock (Web, Desktop, Mobile) A Slack alternative for those who don’t want to use Slack with team communication, video and voice, calls for groups and one-to-one and screen sharing. The way it should be for remote workers.

ClickUp (Web, Desktop, Mobile) All your work in one place: Tasks, docs, chat, goals, & more. The best project management and collaborative app.

Spark (Web, Desktop, Mobile) A smart email client that stops your inbox from getting in the way of productivity and turns it into an asset.

Google Calendar (Web, Desktop, Mobile) Manage all of your calendars and events in one place, arrange meetings without dozens of emails.

Serene (Mac) A tool that cuts out distractions, helps you stay focused and complete tasks faster (Other tools available below).

Dropbox (Web, Desktop, Mobile) Cloud storage, file sharing and collaboration.

ToDoist (Web, Desktop, Mobile) The personal and collaborative tasks planner out there.

Bonsai (Web, Mobile) Invoicing, tasks, contracts, proposals, time tracking, and accounting are all in one app.

LastPass (Web, Desktop, Mobile) One of the best password vaults available out there.

Google Apps (Web, Desktop, Mobile) Create and collaborate on documents online.

Discipline

For many, that is the most challenging part. The internet can be a real ***** (it rhymes with beach). One minute you are ticking off items from your To-Do list, the next minute, you find yourself watching Youtube or scrolling through Facebook. It takes a master Jedi not to be tempted to the dark side.

The 10 Best Apps to Help You Focus and Block Distractions

Brain.FM (Android, iOS, Web) for focus-boosting soundtracks
Cold Turkey Blocker (macOS, Windows) for locking yourself out of your computer
[email protected] (Android, iOS, Web) for lyric-free audio and tracking your productivity
Hocus Focus for viewing one window at a time on a Mac
Freedom (Chrome, Firefox, iOS, macOS, Opera, Windows) for blocking anything you want, anywhere you want
LeechBlock (Chrome, Firefox) for using timers to block or allow website access
Mindful Browsing (Chrome) for gentle nudges away from time-wasting sites
RescueTime (Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Web, Windows) for tracking productivity and blocking distracting sites
Self Control (macOS) for free focus app for Mac
StayFocusd (Chrome) for blocking sites in Chrome

You also have to learn how to say no. Remember, even though you are at home, you must understand that at least 6 to 8 hours belongs to your work. There should be mutual respect for work time. I know everything looks tempting, from sitting and watching Netflix to lying on your bed. Yeah, don’t lie to yourself; working on your laptop while laying on your bed never works.

If you manage to follow those instructions and get into the habit of doing that every day, you will find that you can actually do a lot more. Working from home can be a challenging task. Still, with careful planning, time management and discipline, you can achieve a great deal.

The first thing that I will turn off is the notifications from my social network profiles. Those are the devil’s spawn. Second I will turn off my email notifications and set a timer to check my emails every 2 hours. Trust me, if it was a vital email, they would have called you. Calls, please screen your calls. I personally have my favourites callers that pass through. But everyone else, I can call later. Another option is to put your phone screen faced down, like that you are not distracted by all the notifications (just in case you didn’t turn them off).

That is pretty much it, remove as much distraction from your point of view, and you’re golden.

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