It has been almost six months since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak swept through the entire globe and has completely upended the daily lives of millions of people in the United States and around the world.
In a bid to halt the rapid spread of the viral infection different state and local governments sprung to action by imposing several restrictive measures, a shelter at home policy, and social distancing guidelines to contain the virus and flatten the curve.
This means that millions of people who still have jobs are now working full-time remotely from home. However, this new working model is uncharted territory for many people who are probably working from home for the very first time.
Most workers now have to combine a full-time work schedule with other responsibilities such as caring for the kids, a sick family member, and running other errands.
Doing this every day in addition to what is already a distressing situation can easily become physically and mentally exhausting, and if not put under check, you can end up at the brink of insanity or breaking point.
A quick caveat before you dive into the list is that a key point that is going to form the basis of most of the coping tips below is separation. That is why you might find working in an office to be a preferable option as doing so creates a boundary between your work and personal life.
Once you are in the office you can completely immerse yourself in what you have to do and not have to worry about what’s going on at home.
On the other hand, working from home blends the two, making it rather difficult and challenging for you to focus on work, deal with home affairs, maintain productivity levels, and remain sane.
Here are four (4) quick tips on how to stay sane and productive when working from home though matter your job description or whether you are single or have a family.
1. Create A Dedicated Work Space
Working from home doesn’t mean that you get to sit on the couch or lay in bed to get some work done. Who am I kidding– it does actually, but the truth is you will never get anything tangible, done that way. That is why you need to create a dedicated area that you associate with work. Once you enter this dedicated work area, you know its time to go to work and will put in the same level of effort and energy you would have in a typical office environment.
To make it as real as possible stick to the regular things you would normally do when getting ready for work on a regular day.
Try to get up at the same time, bath, put on cologne, some comfortable clothes, have breakfast (if you like), and then step into your dedicated workspace.
As a physical representation of your usual work environment, it is going to make you take your work more seriously from start to finish.
2. Create Dedicated Working Hours:
Even if you are working from home you need to still act like the professional that you are, by dedicating a particular time specifically for working.
Most importantly, you need to communicate this to anyone with whom you might be sharing a living space with such as a spouse, partner, or roommate. This way they remain fully aware of certain times within the day that they cannot interrupt you for any reason — except an emergency.
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Be sure to also set boundaries and specific ground rules as regards responsibility and other issues around the house with anyone sharing your living space. These could include:
Who keeps an eye on the kids and when?
Who goes for quick errands and when?
Where will your individual work stations be? Etc.
By asking and answering these questions and any other depending on your unique situation, you both can settle on an arrangement that works best for both of you and result in an efficient workflow.
3. Eliminate Distractions
Distractions in their various forms are one of the major causes of unproductivity amongst workers in a typical office setting. This is even more so when you are working from home and there is no social pressure from a fellow colleague who is fully immersed in a task or supervisor to keep you from drifting away checking emails or scrolling through social media.
That’s why eliminating distractions is important. It helps you to retain a high level of concentration when working from home.
To do this you need to block or phase out elements of any kind that can easily distract you or draw your attention away from your work process.
No doubt it can be very tempting for you to quickly scroll through your social media feed, or check the news for the latest headlines and update but this should not be during your dedicated work time. All secondary activities should be left until your break time.
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4. Take Five (5) to Ten (10) Minute Breaks Every Sixty (60) to Ninety (90) Minutes
Taking physical breaks such as standing up to stretch, grabbing a quick bite, or walking around the house is a great way to clear your mind and minimize stress build-up.
Even if you are feeling energetic and pumped, try not to work for hours on end without taking a short time-out in between your dedicated work hours to relax and breathe!
Research has shown that taking breaks can actually increase your creativity and ability to learn which is crucial to retaining a high level of concentration, reducing the chances of errors, and ensuring a productive work process.
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Even in your typical office environment, you usually take such breaks without even realizing it. For instance when you go to get a drink, the bathroom, or even stop by a colleague’s cubicle or office for a quick chat. However, you should note that these short minute breaks usually happen automatically in a communal work setting and might not really be the case when you are working from home. With this in mind, make sure to always step away from your desk for five to ten minutes after an hour or hour and a half, to refreshen your mind and mind.
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