Except for essential public services and manufacturing jobs, most of the other people are working from home. As people avoid going out, a meeting turns to be an e-meeting; roundtables become virtual; seminars become webinars; events go online. This is the new normal we are living in and going to live for at least for some more time. Even after the situation normalises, people will readjust to use of technology and would, hopefully, avoid non-essential travelling and congregations.

As a parody to Charles Dickens’ opening paragraph of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, I would say, ‘It is home time, it is office time; It is personal time, it is duty time; It is free time, it is a hectic time.’ Having worked from home for at least a few weeks, it’s imperative to analyse our productivity. Have you heard the mythical tale of an idle old lady who spends whole day in cooking for herself? Had she other activities to perform, cooking would have taken much less time. Similarly, are you also giving more than necessary time to anything? Is a task of an hour taking two? Are you stuck up in superficial details? Only yardstick to compare is the time when you were working in office. If the answer is yes, maybe the following five tricks will help.

1. Check your schedule in the morning: Like those days when you were working in office, check your schedule of the day in the morning. See how many activities are in plan. What time slots are free before, during and after office hours. Having an overview of the day will give a real picture of engagements. Now think what free time is available at your disposal during the day.

2. Fill up free time in your schedule: Before, during and after office hours, wherever you see a free space in the schedule, fill it up with some productive activity. If it’s before office hours, add exercise, yoga, pranayam or prayer to keep your mind calm in this unprecedented situation. During the office hours, if there are no engagements, make a ‘To Do’ list and do the pending works like: decluttering mail box; go back to that request of a client which was not resolved; propose a new project which will add value to the organisation. But don’t keep your schedule free. After the office hours, fill up some activities that you would love to do. It may be as simple as watching Netflix or playing games. But fix time in advance. So it remains in your schedule and you look forward to doing it.

3. Create an atmosphere of office: Yes, although you are working from home, fixing office hours and personal time distinctly helps your head to make a clear demarcation. Use a specific place during the office time, preferably a chair and a desk. Earmark at least a corner for office work. Do not sit there wearing a night dress or shorts during the office hours. At least wear casual, if not formal clothes. Leave the place/desk after office hours when all tasks are accomplished. Not making a clear line may affect your official as well as personal productivity.

4. Maintain discipline in work: You cannot enjoy a glass of wine with family during the office hours. Nor can you watch Netflix. Don’t indulge into gossip with friends. Meet deadlines of each task. Be proactive and finish all assignments in its scheduled time. As you are not reporting physically at the office, you might have some liberty. But do not drag office work by indulging in chatting with friends or watching TV. Such indiscipline in office work should be strictly avoided.

5. Give yourself free and relax time: The relaxed schedule, not closing office room and going home, is eating up your personal time too. You would feel working longer than usual. You will feel exhausted even while doing less work. This is not physical tiredness, but is a feeling of ever being involved in the office work. Don’t fall prey to it. When office is over, spend time with family and on your hobbies. Do your favourite activities and get in touch with your loved ones. Give yourself free time, relaxed time, family time and personal time. It is essential for your energy.

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