The secret lies in making little conscious decisions and sticking to them.
Millions of people all over the world are now working from their homes due to COVID-19. If you’re one of us, then lucky you, because you still have a source of income. Now the challenge is how to make this new—seemingly foreign concept—of doing your job in the same space where you normally rest and recharge, run smoothly.
Two important things to keep in mind are: one, we all have different coping mechanisms, so not everything that worked for me or other people you know who quickly adapted to this new set-up might work for you; two, it might take time before you are able to get the hang of this, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Don’t force yourself just because you have co-workers or friends who seem to be doing better than you.
I have been working from home for a couple of weeks now and I’ve more or less adjusted to it to the point where I am around 80% as productive as I was if I was reporting to the office. Below are some things that I’ve found to be instrumental in helping me get to where I am.
1. Create your own workspace. This does not have to be fancy. All you need is to find an area in your house where you can sit down properly, set-up your computer, and do your work. Ideally, this should be a space that’s free from clutter and have decent lighting. Once you’ve established where this place is, stay there every time you need to work. One of the things that keep us productive while in the office is the fact that we subconsciously associate that space with work, and if you’re able to replicate the same thing at home, then that should help make things easier for you.
2. Find a routine that works best for you. And when I say, “works best for you” I really mean you. Personally, I’ve found that getting out of bed the same time everyday helps keep my body clock in check. I then proceed with cleaning my surroundings just to get my body moving. I then take my morning coffee and a quick shower. I never force myself to work unless I feel I am prepared for it, but these little daily rituals help. One of my colleagues wakes up everyday the same time she would if she were going to the office and uses what would otherwise be her commute time to exercise. She says this helps shake off any cobwebs in her head, preparing her for the day ahead.
At night, I generally log off all work devices by six, allowing me to deal with other personal things like my laundry or catching up with my mom. Again, don’t be too hard on yourself. Find a schedule that works best for you in this set-up and use that as a guide to create a healthy routine.
3. Set goals. They don’t have to be all about work, and you don’t have to get everything done at once. What goal setting does is it provides you a guide as to how your day is supposed to go. It also keeps you busy and productive without causing too much stress. Just make a checklist of things you want to accomplish within the day or week and try to tick off as much as you can.
4. Be conscious of what you eat. Being at home means you have more access to food more than ever, and more often than not, the most convenient ones are also the nastiest ones. Just make sure you stay hydrated and that you mostly consume items that actually provide you nourishment. Keep in mind that we are in the middle of a pandemic, and that keeping your body mind and healthy should be your highest priority.
5. Be sure to move around. Don’t stay stuck in your seat for seven hours. Every hour or so, take time to stretch or maybe jog in place—whatever it is that your body is telling you to do. Remember that humans are mobile creatures and that movement is essential in keeping your body functioning properly.
6. Limit your social media usage. With no one there to control how you utilize social media and consume information throughout the day, it’s easy to find yourself spending hours and hours on something that is slowly causing you stress. Be mindful of how social media usage and how certain information make you feel. Try to find a rhythm that allows you to stay informed without causing strain to your mental health, and stick with it.
7. Be open to others. It’s important to keep in mind that not everyday will be the same for you, or anyone for that matter. You may wake up today full energy and enthusiasm to get things done, while tomorrow may not be as good. It’s okay. Understand that everyone is still trying to figure things out at this point. If you feel like today is one of those days, communicate that with your teammates. At the same time, if one of your colleagues doesn’t feel 100%, be ready to accept that and lend a helping hand where you can.
Remember that just because these things worked for me, doesn’t necessarily mean they will for you. Having said that, it’s important that you try to figure out what other activities or formula you can adapt to help you in this stressful time. And if there’s one thing I’d like to reiterate, it’s that you be kind to yourself and know that you are not in this battle alone.