How to stay positive and productive during the lockdown

Trying to cope with the outbreak of Coronavirus has had huge impacts on all groups of people worldwide. For students, it is a tricky time to readjust to completing university work from home, watching lectures online and being uncertain about exams. For working professionals, it has been finding an ideal workspace to work from home and drawing the lines between work and home. And for other people of the society including homemakers, children, elderly people, domestic workers etc., it has been a time filled with family bonding, relaxation and also bits of uncertainty about the future.

It’s easy to fall into a rut of unproductivity amidst this uncertainty- which is completely expected and justified- but hopefully, these tips will help to start integrating some productivity back into your lives, even during a lockdown. 

1. Make daily task lists

This is our top tip for staying productive for getting lots of work done!

Each evening, you can make a list of things you want to get done during the following day. This means that as soon as you wake up, you already have a direction of what needs to be done before you can relax and have downtime. You may find that if you have loads to do but don’t know where to start, it’s far easier to give in to doing no work at all. Whereas, if you have set of written down goals for the day, you’re far more likely to achieve them.

2. Make sure you still escape the house for a (socially distant) walk each day

Despite being in lockdown, you should leave the house (to the terrace or colony streets) once a day for some form of exercise. Something as simple as a walk for 20 minutes will help you stay sane and calm during this time. It also mentally refreshes you during a work break, so you can come back and get right onto completing that daily task list!

(But remember, stay at least 2m apart from anyone you see on these walks/runs).

3. Set-up an ideal workspace for optimal focus

Move around things in your house to create a better working environment. Making a conscious effort to keep your room clean, the window open and a slick deskspace is key so that it remains a productive environment. 

Having a confined deskspace of your own will also help you draw the boundaries between work and home while staying at home.

4. Organise and minimise your inbox

Spend 15 minutes deleting and filing emails. You’ll be amazed at how much you can lighten your inbox and mind (much needed in a time when content consumption is at its all-time high) in a small amount of time. For bonus points, do this every day for a full week. 

5. Meal planning

The upside to not sending kids to school and not going into an office is that you don’t have to pack lunches. On the other hand, with everyone at home, you will have to make three meals a day. Spend 20 minutes one day a week thinking through lunches and dinners. This will make mealtimes feel less stressful and rushed, and you can make sure you have everything you need in advance. With stores having uneven inventory, ensuring you can prepare what you want is important.

6. Use the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a management time strategy that works pretty well when you have time constraints like the ones imposed by the lockdown.

The Pomodoro technique consists of setting up a timer for 30 minutes — you can play with the length — to work on one single activity without any interruption (you can take a small break, as small as 5-7 mins, between each 30 min Pomodoro session). Once you have successfully run 4 ‘Pomodoro’ rounds you are allowed to take a longer break. 

7. Write down goals for the rest of 2020 

Some of us made a list of goals at the beginning of the year, but if you didn’t, now is a good time to make one. It will help you visualise life after the Coronavirus outbreak and help you prioritise in the coming months. If you already have a list, take a look and revise as necessary. If you’re making a new list, be sure to include larger home projects you would like to complete, ideas for things you want to do with your kids and professional goals.

8. Take breaks!

After one or two hours of doing the same thing, our brain and body get tired. Take small breaks to help you stay focused and finish things on time. You don’t need to take long breaks, just 5 minutes to stretch your legs, meditate, grab a cup of coffee or tea, or take a walk around the house is enough.

9. Send notes

This might be our last tip but the most effective to stay positive and connect!

Write those thank you cards that you have had on your to-do list for the past few months. If you don’t have any thank you notes to send, just send a few written notes or cards to friends. It will make you feel good to keep up some connection offline, and the recipient (all your loved ones and even colleagues) will be thrilled to open some real mail!

We would like to emphasise on this – You can’t be perfect at everything, you probably won’t be as efficient as you were before the lockdown. At least not right away, adapting to a new situation takes time. But you can start trying these or other techniques and see which one works for you. But the most important thing is to tell yourself that you are doing your best, and perfection doesn’t exist, but you can improve yourself every day.

This is the best strategy, the only one that works, to stay productive and positive during this crisis.