Staying productive while working from home

Published On: April 2nd, 20204.8 min readCategories: COVID-19, Study tips

As many of us in South Africa are aware, our 21-day national lock began at midnight on the 26th of March 2020 due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic. In abidance with the lockdown protocols, all non-essential personal will not be allowed to work from their offices. That leaves a very high number of South African’s who will be working from home for the next few weeks.

Our way of life has changed dramatically over the past week, and in the begging transitions can be challenging. Plus, if you’ve never worked from home before it can lead to additional stress, in an environment that is already quite stressful for us.

To help our fellow South African’s and our current students we’ve compiled some tips from leading sources around the world to help you stay productive, mentally healthy and on top of your to-do list during this time.

1 Create a schedule, structure your day like you normally would

Durham University’s Dr. Thuy-vy Nguyen, who studies the effects of solitude, thinks the psychological effects of working remotely for extended periods is often overlooked or ignored, despite it being an essential factor in our mental well-being and team bonding. Nyguyen, recommends that, when working alone, you should keep a more structured daily schedule than usual.

“Usually our time and the structure of our day are influenced by other people,” she says. “You’re going to experience your day as lacking the normal structures that you usually have. People might have a hard time dealing with it. So one of the things that we found in our trying to understand solitude, is that time spent alone is better if it’s structured.”
Source:, March 2020

Try creating a schedule for yourself just like you would at the office, go about setting up meetings and tasks the same way you would at work. Try to see it as your job hasn’t changed, just the location, so don’t overlook the things that worked for you when you were office-bound.

2 Location, location, location

Try to find yourself a dedicated and comfortable spot to work that you can associate with your job and leave when you’re off the clock.

“It definitely helps if you have a dedicated space for working from home,” says remote worker Matt Haughey, creator of the long-running community weblog MetaFilter, and writer for Slack. Haughey has set up a dedicated space where he can close the door and shut out distractions.
Source:, March 2020

Finding a dedicated space can be tricky for some us, you may have children, a large family, live in a small space or all of the above! So find a spot that works for you, in your environment and ask those around you to respect it so you can try to limit distractions.

3 Find a buddy, stay connected

You might find it easier to be productive without your most chatty co-workers. But social interactions — even with co-workers — can alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness.

“We’re used to social interaction,” says Durham University’s Dr. Thuy-vy Nguyen. “It facilitates cooperation and closeness.”

To help fill the socializing gap while working remotely, Nguyen recommends finding a colleague you can hit up when you’re feeling the need to chat with someone. Alternatively, buddy up with a friend who works elsewhere and is going through the same experience. Hopping on a social video call instead or text isn’t a bad idea, either.
Source:, March 2020

This is a scary time for everyone, so remember to ask for support when you need it. To our current students who are studying, you can easily buddy up with a student through iCan to help you through this time in life, work and studies.

4 Transfer you commute time into intentional rest time

John Fitch & Max Frenzel, co-authors of Time Off Book suggest that we calculate the amount of time we normally have to commute and translate that time to our “rest” allowance.

This is time for us to detach from our work. Instead of starting our day off by stressing out about getting somewhere on time, invest that time into either a relaxing ritual that gets you to a calm and clear state of mind or invest it into winding down your day so that you don’t form a habit of working into the night. The authors explain how this commute time can be a time to set an intentional container for separating work and leisure at home.
Source:, March 2020

Making the time to take care of your mental health during this period is very important not only for your work life but for you and your family. Don’t forget to create space in your day to take a break, clear your mind and reset.

5 Make your bed!

Naval Adm. William McRaven, a navy seal and author of Make your bed (No.1 New Your Times bestseller), once said during a university commencement address:

“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”

During times of uncertainty, it’s okay to have a few “moments”. Don’t expect everything to go perfectly, finding your new normal can be tough. But once you’ve got your groove back adjusting to this rather sudden change will be easier!

From everyone here at iQ Academy remember; Ukwazi Ukuzimela – Stand strong, and stand together.

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