Remote work has become part of the new normal amid COVID-19. With that, employees have found themselves working from home.
You may enjoy spending the day in your jammies and attending Zoom sessions at first. But as time passes, you may find your productivity taking a massive hit. It‘s challenging to stay productive and motivated, especially in the current context.
Here are some ways to stay productive and maintain mental wellness while working from home.
Create a schedule — and stick to it
You may follow a routine at the office, so how about imbibing the same at home?
But with remote work, you must take it one step further and hold yourself accountable to stick to the schedule.
Maintain a sleep schedule and structure the rest of the day as per your circadian rhythm. Plan out the tasks that you aim to accomplish for the day and do them according to priority. Match their high energy demands with periods when you are highly attentive or focused.
In case you have trouble getting started, begin with small, menial tasks to get into the groove. Alternatively, spend the commute time you’ve saved on exercising or cooking yourself a healthy breakfast.
Simulate “work triggers”
Simple things like getting dressed for work, commuting, or even tying your laces can set off “work triggers” that will get you in the working zone.
Rewire your brain to adapt to new work triggers to start your day. For instance, it could be reading the newspaper, brewing a fresh cup of coffee, or exercising.
At the same time, ditch those PJs and sweatpants for some comfortable jeans and trousers to trick your mind. Wearing a certain kind of clothing can affect your behaviour. Embodied cognition moulds how your appearance affects your performance, so suit up!
Have a dedicated workstation
Speaking of work triggers, it’s also vital to have a dedicated workstation to stay on top of your game. You’re more likely to be attentive reading your emails in a tranquil environment than scrolling through them in front of your TV.
Work at the same spot every day until you resume going to your office. Keep this area tidy and clutter-free to prevent overloading your senses.
Ideally, your home office should be in a quiet room (or a quaint nook), with minimal disturbances or interferences. If you wish to go on about your business, you’ll have to stay out of someone else’s.
Once you have found your workspace, establish psychological boundaries so you’re not distracted. Focus on the task at hand to blur out the temptation of unfinished personal chores. The laundry or the leftover pizza can wait until you are on your break.
Make to-do lists
To-do lists remove the inhibition one may feel while taking on a mammoth task. Writing down your assignments not only makes it easier for you to remember them, but also frees up your mind for other tasks.
Separate your short-term and long-term goals and set deadlines to achieve those smaller goals. You don’t need an elaborate planner to stay on course. A simple to-do list, written on a plain sheet, can work wonders to keep your productive, organised, and motivated.
As you begin checking items off your to-do list, you’ll notice tangible progress in your work. These psychological rewards will offer you positive reinforcement towards working harder and meeting your next goals.
If you’re not a fan of writing, make use of apps like Google Keep or Trello to maintain your to-do list.
Establish strict boundaries
How frequently do you have a friend or family drop by your office while you work? We’re guessing it’s not that often.
Follow the same ethics of not entertaining personal intrusions even as you work from home.
Even a mere three-second distraction is potent enough to wreck your productivity. Unexpected drop-ins and interruptions can make you lose your concentration, procrastinate, and lag on deadlines.
Notify your work hours to your friends and family and request them not to interrupt you during these hours. Self-isolate from your phone and other electronic devices you don’t need while working.
It’s also a good practice to step away from your desk if you start feeling unproductive. Re–energise by taking a stroll, doing a few squats, taking deep breaths, then getting back to the task at hand in a couple of minutes.
Human beings are social creatures. Being isolated from the world can adversely affect anybody.
Take the time to protect your mental health and practice self-care.
Once you switch off your work devices at the end of a workday, keep them aside. Turn off any work notifications or reminders and indulge in pleasurable activities. Touch bases with your loved ones (or even colleagues) through video calls.
Catch up also on enjoyable hobbies to de-stress and de-clutter your mind. Watch a movie, cook a meal, or read a book. You can even take up a new skill like gardening, yoga, or taking online classes to improve your well-being.
You can do this
Keep a positive mindset and utilise this time to nurture your creativity. In trying times, your most crucial weapon is your attitude and perspective. Given that there’s little that you can do to control the situation around you, accept it, and work around it.
Like everything else, this too shall pass.