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Organisational psychologist Hetal Doshi on habits to avoid to stay productive while working from home

After weeks of working from home, do you catch yourself thinking that it’s easier said than done? Or maybe working from home is second nature to you, and the recent weeks have helped you slow down in ways you never thought possible.    

According to Hetal Doshi, organisational psychologist and CEO of O Psych, the #WFH movement has already held appeal to many Malaysian companies regardless of the recent changes caused by Covid-19.   

“In a study that we did with 20 leaders in Malaysia, it was clear that working from home was already an arrangement that was considered prior to Covid-19,” says Doshi, who is also a certified professional coach. “But for a majority of them, it was never fully launched.”

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As an organisational psychologist, Hetal Doshi works closely with organisations to help them achieve their business transformation goals, offering analytics-driven predictions and strategies on how to engage effectively with employees to this end.   

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“Many people are commenting that #WFH has led to a busier life for them. In a poll on our MentalHealth@Work Facebook Group, we had over 73% of respondents saying they were 'busier than ever',” says Doshi. “This doesn’t necessarily mean that working from home in general leads to a busier life, it just means that working from home due to the impact of Covid-19 and the MCO has led to a busier life.”  

The self-confessed #WFH proponent shares the common pitfalls to avoid when working remotely, along with practical tips on maximising productivity from home. 

Myth: Focus on action rather than the outcome

Before jumping into the day's workload, a little mental preparation beforehand may just be the trick for a more effective work flow.

"Now more than ever, it is critical to create space and time in your mind to understand the 'game' that you are in and how you will 'play it best' so you can set yourself and others up for a more successful and meaningful path," says Doshi. 

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Myth: Being busy as a desirable status symbol

“Even before the MCO, we have always had a culture where staying busy is seen as something to be valued," says Doshi. “We need to break out of this habit. The difference between successful and really successful people is that the latter are able to say 'No' – to unnecessary tasks, to tasks that don’t lead to outcomes, to office politics, to gossiping, to anything that may potentially derail you.”

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Myth: Multi-tasking leads to better results

Rather than fixate on the day’s tasks all at once, focus on completing one or two at a time.

“It's not about keeping your expectations or standards low, but keeping your expectations clear and focused,” Doshi states. “Research suggests that if you are focused on one or two things, you will achieve one or two things. If you are focused on 10 to 12 things, you will achieve only one or two things."

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Myth: External validation is important

“Always check your intentions and ask why you're doing what you’re doing,” Doshi says. “A lot of us think of life as about having stuff, superiority and showing off. If we do the things we do for external validation or recognition, we will always be anxious, depressed and stressed. Our intentions should always be clear and focused on an internal conviction that is outcome-based or purpose-led.”

Myth: Forget about the joy in what you do 

More and more, we're beginning to understand the value of mindfulness and enjoying the present. 

“Breathe slowly and deeply as you work. Consciously inject a small, gentle smile on your face,” suggests Doshi. “If we have to work hard, we may as well choose to do so joyfully.”

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Myth: Micro-managing is good leadership

It's easy to forget that we all need space from time to time, whether it is from our kids or our co-workers.

"Give people their space. Let them be but don’t let them go," Doshi says. "Everyone should be entitled to their moods - do not force or use words such as “ought, should, must”. Always show your presence and continuously nudge them back towards the love that you want them to experience." 

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