HY-Five – Our Top 5 ways to be productive while WFH

Welcome to our new ‘HY-Five’ blog… where we share our top five tips around different themes to inspire and help you at work (/home) and with your event planning.

Over the last week the Hyphen team (and many of the UK and beyond) has been getting used to the new reality of working from home, and while this is a challenging time for everyone, motivation levels remain high amongst the Hyphen team.

And so, to kick off the HY-Five series, here we share 5 top tips from the team to help you stay productive and sane while working from home during these uncertain times.

At a glance:

  1. Keep connected to each other regularly
  2. Set yourself up for success and productivity
  3. Timebox your day to avoid distractions
  4. Work alongside your kids following a timetable
  5. Take a fresh air break (furry friends optional!)

Take your time:

So, here’s what the Hyphen team has to say in full…

Luci, head of Hyphen says:

Keep connected to each other regularly”

Our team connects daily for a huddle at 10am and we have an active WhatsApp group which we use to update each other on what’s going on with our clients, projects and events. But perhaps more importantly it’s also where we keep our morale high by sharing memes, jokes, and cute pictures of our dogs!

As we all know it’s so important at times of uncertainty and stress to be there for each other as we’re bound to experience the stress at different times, and in different ways. Humour is definitely a theme that helps my team stay connected and sane.

Nicola, account director says:

 “Set yourself up for success and productivity”

Set up a dedicated workspace in your home that is NOT your living room. This is too much of a productivity killer with temptations like Netflix at the touch of a button!

Try to find a space that is light and open, and clutter-free. Have hydration to hand, and music to focus your mind. I also like candles to create a zen space.

Exercise and stretch regularly. Exercise naturally boosts endorphins, increasing happiness, enjoyment and interest levels – all of which are important to productivity. Regular stretching helps maintain great posture, allow yourself 10 minutes of Desk Yoga during your day.

Eat healthy meals and snacks. A work from home reality is that we have full access to the kitchen! When it’s time for lunch or a snack break, most of us are drawn to naughty snacks such as cookies, crisps and cakes. But research shows that eating fruit and vegetables has a direct link to productivity levels. Reward yourself with a sweet snack on a Friday, or when a task has been ticked off! There are some great foodies to follow on Instagram: @Madeleine_shaw_, @Thebodycoach, @Mylilchickpea, @Deliciouslyella

Luci adds:

Timebox your day to avoid distractions”

Inspired by the book ‘Indistractable’ by Nir Eyal, I have started to “timebox” my day to ensure I have some structure. I allocate time (which is detailed in my online calendar) for different clients and tasks, leaving ‘free time’ to be available for the team. This is also when I check my emails.

The book has opened my eyes to different ways of working. Being more of a ‘creative’ type I know I have a tendency to get distracted into thinking about ideas for this client or that project and then end up doing (or rather not doing) any one specific task. So, not only does this approach allow me to get through my workload more efficiently, it also helps me to feel less frazzled overall.

This is particularly useful when working from home as this approach is helping me differentiate further between the working day and leisure time, as living alone this can blend into the other.

The book also offers interesting insight into how different people manage distractions and also more importantly gets you thinking about why we are getting distracted in the first place.

So, if you find you have some time on your hands and are looking for a different way to unwind after your working day from home (rather than getting sucked into TV), then I would definitely recommend it as a read. I also enjoy podcasts – Elizabeth Day’s ‘How to Fail’ is a current favourite.

Linda, account director says:

“Work alongside your kids following a timetable”

Children love routine and, if they’re school age, they are used to working to a timetable. So, keep to the structure of a typical school day. Write out the timetable for the week. While they’re doing the time slots of maths/science/spelling/reading work at the table with them. Explain that this is your time slot for work too.

When it’s their break, if you have a garden, use it. Set a 15-minute timer and have this as your break time too. It’s important to exercise and have a change of scene. If you don’t have a garden or the weather’s bad, there are plenty of exercise options on YouTube – try Cosmic Kids yoga or have a dance!

Have lunch together – involve them in the preparation and setting the table. If you’re still able to leave the house, go for a walk after lunch. Make sure you keep to the timetable of coming back in time for afternoon work. Stick to the timetable of the afternoon sessions (including play time).

It’s important to keep motivation up, so try to make everything as fun as possible. Change your mindset from thinking how many long hours you have ahead of you, to thinking I’ve ‘only’ got x number of hours to get this done. Kids love working with timers – if you don’t have one, use the timer on your phone and cut their homework into 8-minute segments. According to psychologists, a child’s attention span is two to five minutes for each year of their age. According to a mother of a 6-year-old (yours truly), I’d say that’s more like 1 minute per year!

After school hours, do other activities that are fun – baking, crafts, lego, painting. Don’t assume TV time is negative or associate it with guilt – there are plenty of educational programmes available, but make sure they are also allowed to watch their usual favourite shows – it’ll give you some space for yourself.

Of course, a school timetable will not amount to your 8-hour working day, so you will need to set aside time in the evening or early morning to catch up. This also comes with a disclaimer that it’s easier said than done!

Haley, account director says:

Take a fresh air break (furry friends optional)!”

Finding myself working from home this week for who knows how long could have pushed my anxiety button, but instead I realised that it has actually pushed my chillax button because I get to be around my two adorable fur kids Oscar & Molly all day, every day.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, pets offer companionship that can reduce anxiety and stress, boost happiness and increase motivation. Definitely the case in my world right now. Just being around them reduces my stress levels, my blood pressure and helps keep me be mindful throughout the day.

They are creatures of habit and routine which has so far helped me to structure my days and be far more productive at my home desk than when I am at my office desk.

Scheduling a furry friend fresh air break in between smashing through actions on my to-do list, blitzing my inbox, checking in with client and team wash-ups has definitely had an impact on my productivity levels at home. Who knew our furry friends could help with our time management?

My step count has also surprisingly increased, and my daily fresh air quota is also on the up.

For those moments when I have felt my anxiety starting to rise, just a slight movement in my chair and in walks one of them with their wagging tail for a cuddle – instant destress, right there, on tap!

If you’re not a furry pet owner, even watching a fish swim can also give you the mindful breaks needed during the day, and there are plenty of aquariums on YouTube to tune in to.

We hope you are staying safe and healthy wherever you are. If there’s anything we can do to help you at this time, please do get in touch with the team…