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By Jessica Zang

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About this blog: I’m Jessica Zang, a Palo Alto-born, slightly cynical Gunn High School student who’s passionate about linking high school life to the bigger picture. What’s really going on in our high schools in Palo Alto? Everything a high ...  (More)

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Coronavirus: tips to increase productivity at home

Uploaded: Apr 26, 2020
Staying motivated when teachers and superiors aren't present as a form of supervision is difficult. One complication of online work I've encountered personally is the lack of motivation and self-control that is necessary to complete assignments. Especially after 3 weeks of optional work, required online assignments feel optional, despite my knowledge that if I don't do them, I will fail all of my classes.

It's time for me to admit that the transition to online work is not synonymous to a period for relaxation. It's better to treat it as just another weekday, but with more time and in the comfort of your own home. It's a chance to make meaningful advancements in both personal projects and required work, and instead of finding the flaws in the online transition, I've viewed it as an opportunity to divide up my time better. I can now spend less time on learning material for easier classes, leaving me more room to focus on more in-depth learning in harder subjects.

This leads me to tip #1: like always, prioritize your time. Use the extra time per day wisely and carefully to your own advantage. Your extra hour or so that is saved from not having to commute to work can be used to bake new desserts, learn a new language, or pick up a new skill online. Whatever you decide, make sure you complete your top priorities before focusing on lower ones to avoid leaving a huge pile of work and stress for the end of the week.

Tip #2: Make a schedule.
Every week when all work is assigned, create a weekly schedule of what tasks you want done and at what time you want them done. Especially when planned down to the last minute, these schedules simulate order and organization, much like school or work schedules. For me, setting timers can also increase a sense of urgency as the time limit serves as motivation to work harder, smarter, and faster.

As for tip #3, don't plan to finish your work too quickly. In other words, people usually estimate a task to be simpler and less time-consuming than it actually is. Give yourself some wiggle room in your schedule to avoid the added stress of running behind schedule.

Our final tip #4 is one I got from a fellow student, and it is to try a new working environment. At some point, working in the same places will become repetitive and if you find that working at your desk is unproductive, it may be because the setting is too familiar and comfortable. Instead, find an environment that you've never tried to work in before. For me, sitting on the ground helps me focus. For others, it's sitting by the kitchen or in their backyard. Finding a new workspace helps me take my tasks more seriously and boosts productivity, so it may prove effective for others.

Hopefully by keeping these tips in mind, we can match or even exceed our original productivity. Wishing everyone the best in their professional endeavors!
We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?

Comments

 +   3 people like this
Posted by Novelera, a resident of Midtown,
on Apr 27, 2020 at 1:03 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

Excellent suggestions, Jessica. I am doing some work from home. Benefits have been lack of interruptions by other staff and not needing to wear makeup!

I especially enjoyed your paragraph about making a schedule. I have been pretty much "winging it" and then frantically playing catchup on Friday.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by A Palo Alto Parent, a resident of Midtown,
on May 2, 2020 at 9:54 am

Excellent tips, Jessica! I especially like your tip of prioritizing the more important and difficult tasks ahead of smaller and easier ones.

I personally am not good at planning my days and weeks down to a schedule, other than my iPhone calendar. What I tried to do is to ask myself what is the most important thing I should do now. Is anyone else bothered by things that you don't really want to do, have trouble getting started, but that you know you have to get done? One tip I use is to reward myself some 'goodies' if I finish these tasks, which helps me sit down and get the tedious task started. It may sound childish, but seems to work for me :-).

Another thing is regular exercise. Get fresh air, get sweaty and a good pumping heart rate. Whenever I do exercise, I am more productive afterwards.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by A parent with kids in high school, a resident of Gunn High School,
on May 2, 2020 at 12:45 pm

Right Timing to talk about productivity at home, Jessica.

From my own experience, at the beginning of Work-From-Home, I found myself trying to follow the "normal" work routine by getting up in the morning, eating my breakfast, getting to work, taking a break at noon to eat lunch and then, finishing up by 6pm and starting to prepare for dinner. However, as the weeks go by, I gradually lost that routine. I skipped breakfast, went directly to conference calls right after getting up. Lunch changed to quick snacks and sometimes, I found myself still working well into the night. I often worked 12 hours a day instead of 8. But, was I more productive, not really. I was on conference calls more, not really able to get things done, and I was chasing after "smaller things" instead of prioritizing the right things. Many of my colleagues also felt the same.

Be productive at home is challenging. Thanks for your tips. A daily goal and changing to a new location at home would help me the most. :-)


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