Between the widespread worry and impending closure of public transportation in major cities due to COVID-19, people are playing it safe and not going into work.
If you are one of those people, I welcome you to the work-from-home club. Now that you’ve arrived, you’re either one of two things: excited or worried.
Sure, lounging in your pyjamas all day sounds great. Yes, you can indeed manage your own schedule and checkout Reddit without the worry of your boss walking up behind you. Have a dog? Welcome to snuggling it all day.
But you’re also diving into a new reality; one full of the dreaded productivity killer: distraction.
I’m a writer, which means I can work from literally everywhere. And out of all the places I could choose to work, my couch wins out 95% of the time. It wasn’t easy adjusting to the work-from-home life. After a little trial and a lot of error, I figured out tricks that help maintain my sanity while I crank out article after article.
I’ll be blunt: Working from home means that Netflix is a mere click away. Simple household tasks now stare you dead in the face. Perhaps you’re even quarantining with your kids, in which case, they’re going to want one constant thing from you: attention (unless they’re a teen, then count yourself lucky).
With all of these new distractions mixing in with deadlines, how do you not succumb to their whims?
Well, it’s actually pretty simple. There are a few tricks that, with dedication and practice, can help you stay sane and productive while working from home.
Clean Your Workspace
The best way to set yourself up for success is to clean the room you’ll designate as your working space.
Nothing will distract you more than staring at that pile of laundry you’ve never gotten around to folding. You’ll feel a nagging need to finally organize that stacks of papers on your desk, even though it’s been months.
Researchers conducted a study on the effects of clutter on a person’s level of productivity. They found that the more “stuff” around a person’s home made them more likely to procrastinate.
Do yourself a favour and start your week off by tidying up the area you’ll be working in. This simple act will help your mind be at ease and focus on the tasks you need to get done. Plus, you’ll finally clean — so it’s a double whammy in my book.
Use Do Not Disturb Mode
Imagine you’re a horse. A racehorse, though; not the ones that prance around an arena.
Racehorses wear a special device called blinkers. They’re the masks horses wear that prevent them from seeing what’s beside them. Blinkers keep the horse from being spooked and distracted.
Do Not Disturb is your blinkers.
You can set both your phone and computer to Do Not Disturb. This means your texts, social media notifications, etc. aren’t going to pop up and distract you while you’re trying to get work done.
For me, this has been a productivity game-changer. I already sleep with my phone on Do Not Disturb but I don’t switch it off until close to 12pm when I’ve gotten a sufficient amount of work done.
Use this tool to help you focus on work, rather than suddenly finding yourself scrolling through Instagram.
Find a Quiet Place
This might be the hardest part of your work-from-home set-up.
You need to find a place in your apartment or home that’s quiet. Maybe you live alone and that’s not an issue. Or perhaps you have a dedicated office. But if you live with other people, your bedroom may be your only option. In which case, you just need to work with what you have.
I work from my bed sometimes and find myself being surprisingly productive. Just don’t make yourself too comfortable. Get dressed in actual clothes or position yourself so you’re sitting completely up.
Lastly, make it known to the people in your house that you can’t be disturbed while you work. If you have kids, let them know you’re off-limits unless it’s an emergency.
Have a Cut Off Time
Heed my warning: Designate a time to be done with your workday.
You’re going to have channels of communication with your boss and colleagues that will enable you to work long into the night. Don’t. You might think this is harmless, but you’ll slowly descend into madness feeling like work never ends. And that won’t do your sanity any good in the long run.
Create a time when work ends, and stick to it.
This simple decision will give you something to look forward to. Plus, if you stick to a start and stop time, you’re going to find yourself with more free time since you’re no longer commuting to work.
Invest Time In a Hobby
No longer sitting in traffic to get to the office means you’ll find yourself with extra time during your day. What will you do with it?
I suggest putting it into your hobby.
Pick up your guitar that you haven’t touched in years. Start a solid figure-sketching practice. Or be like me and obsess over your plant collection that seems to die no matter how much TLC you put into their precious roots.
You’ll find yourself happier throughout the day and again, have something to look forward to later.
For the love of your vertebrae, stand up.
A downfall of working from home means that the only walking you need to do is between your chair and bathroom, which are probably pretty damn close together.
Your physical health, specifically your back and spine, will go downhill quickly if you don’t take care of them.
Set an alarm on your phone every thirty minutes. When it goes off, stand up, stretch and take a lap around your home. Trust me, nothing is worse than feeling the slow build-up of neck and back pain because you’ve been sitting on your butt too much.
Whether you’re sick, playing it safe, or are in full-on prepper mode, working from home can prove to be a tricky adjustment.
Just remember to do what you can to aid your focus, create a firm work schedule, and don’t let your physical and mental health fall to the wayside.
Hopefully, amid this virus and panic, things will eventually calm down. But in the meantime, we’ll all have to adjust our lives accordingly. Luckily, your productivity and sanity don’t have to suffer if you suddenly find yourself working from home.
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