With many companies around the world switching to remote working or even closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you might currently be finding yourself in unchartered territory – working from home or even on indefinite leave.
But, before you permanently put on those pajamas and don’t leave the bed, remember this is only temporary. Before you know it, you’ll be back at the grind. And, if you stop right now, it will be so much harder to get back into your groove.
Even before the current crisis, I’ve been an at-home worker, and know just how difficult it can be to stay motivated and not give into the temptation to laze all day. These are some of my tried and true tricks for organizing your day and staying productive at home.
Working at home
If you’ve recently become a remote worker, one of the first things you might feel is relaxed. No more commute, no more office chair, no more getting dressed and on-the-go first thing.
This is a treacherous feeling! Don’t forget, you still have work to do. This is not a holiday. Before you get too into your comfort zone; it’s time to separate work from home, even when you’re sitting in your new ‘home office.’
This is not a holiday
It sounds so simple but getting dressed can change your entire mood. Yes, those pajamas are comfortable, and yes, no one will know if you’re wearing them all day. But how you feel will change when you put on clothes.
That said, there’s no need to put on the good old office suit, leggings or comfy jeans will do. Except if you have an all-important conference call that is. Just change those clothes and move from sleep time to work time.
Create a working space
Lying in bed may be comfortable and cozy, but nothing makes you more productive than a dedicated work space. Carve out a little space in your home to work in. It might be a special desk in the corner, or you can even take over the kitchen table.
Make a dedicated work area
Make this your dedicated working area. That way you separate the work from the home and you’ll find yourself more productive and less prone to distractions.
Take breaks (but not too many)
This is a tricky one to get right. While at home, you might find yourself more intensely focused on work and work-related activities that you forget to take a break at all. Alternatively, you may find yourself so distracted that you take way too many breaks.
The trick here is to be strict with yourself. Set yourself working times and break times. For example, you might set the timer for 30 minutes, and once that alarm sounds, you take a break.
Unlike the office, you can make your breaks a little more fun. Why not try a quick brain-boosting dance or a short workout? These activities get your blood flowing and give you the energy needed for your next work marathon.
Of course, you can always grab a cup of tea too. Nothing beats a home brew.
Separate work time from family time
It can be tempting to get into a hot debate with your partner about what’s for dinner or the latest political topic, or even the opposite, you try too hard to focus on work and ignore all family responsibilities.
Working at home, it can be difficult to separate work time from family time. We are all more likely to flex our working hours and connect with our colleagues on an almost 24/7 basis.
Dedication is good, but knowing when to switch off is also important.
But, at the end of the day, this will only make you more tired. Try to keep work to working hours and switch off when it’s time to finish. I know you’re dedicated to your job, but you need to let your brain rest and spend time with your family. This is essential to your mental health.
Break your day up into manageable chunks
Don’t think you’ll be sitting at your computer typing 9-5. Even though you’re in your comfort-zone, you will need a break. Over the first few days of your home working you’ll be able to see a pattern to which hours you are most productive, and which you are lagging in.
Use these patterns to help yourself create a work-time schedule that works for you. I like to break my day into 30-minute chunks, but perhaps 45 minutes works for you. What’s vital is to allocate your time into work moments and rest moments to boost your productivity.
Don’t forget about sleep
Starting work late and finishing late, might seem great on paper – you get to lie in in the morning. But it won’t be all that great for your sleep patterns and especially not when it comes to going back to the office.
When working from home, it’s vital you try to keep your body clock steady and focus on regulating your circadian rhythm. This will help not only regulate the hours you’re working but also make sure your immunity is in tip top shape and reduces your stress levels, too. So, what better reason to get to bed on time.
Keep up communication
Staring at four walls can be lonely. So too can the endless hours of working away in solitude. While you might be likely to produce some of your best work yet, after all, you have lots of time to concentrate. You might also quickly become depressed and unmotivated.
This is where communication comes in. Keep in touch with your colleagues via all means possible. Keep up to date with your work-related tasks and official communication using email, messengers, project management tools like Asana and Jira, video services like Zoom, and, of course, Google Hangouts.
For informal conversation, remember to join the office group chat to catch up on what’s new with everyone, keep in touch video messenger, or even have a digital house party.
Communication is good for you.
Keep it social distancing safe – go digital!
If you’ve just become a homeschool teacher by circumstance, you’re not alone. Parents across the world are now juggling work, parenting and teaching – it’s a lot! No doubt your kids are your number one priority, but those bills have to be paid and work needs to be done.
That’s why keeping your kids busy not bored is essential to their well-being and your sanity. Getting them engaging in a task, before you sit down in front of a computer, will save a lot of stress and yell.
You can find lots of great tips and ideas here. Depending on where you’re located, your kids’ school may have sent home homework. If they must, try to encourage your kids to do it, but don’t stress if they don’t.
They won’t be behind. We’re all in this together. And we have enough anxiety on our hands, so stressing about finishing that last home task isn’t worth it. Help yourself and your kids destress by some real-life practical teaching about the world – plants, cooking, history.
Out of a job?
One unfortunate element of the current crisis is many people are now finding themselves redundant. If this is you, our sincere thoughts are with you at this tough time. No doubt you are worried about what comes next.
And while that worry is very appropriate in this situation, it’s not productive in moving forward. This is one of those times where you need to just keep going.
Just keep going
First things first, get support. If finances are a little tight, you should focus on accessing help available from your local government and social services. Many countries around the world are offering support to their citizens.
Get online and Google what support can be made available to you and take advantage of it. That’s what it’s there for – to help you get through the tough times.
Change the narrative
This isn’t the end of something. It’s an opportunity to stop and rethink. Now, you’ve taken care of your basic needs, it’s time to make the most of a tough situation. Sure a couple of days of rest, relaxation and de-stressing won’t go amiss, but once you’re done, you need to get moving.
Change the narrative from fired to free – think new opportunities
Even if you don’t feel quite ready yet, kick your posterior into gear and get back to life. And that means seizing the opportunity. Take some time to sit back and meditate on what you really want to get from life.
Are you happy with your current prospects or do you want something more? Now’s the time to take that breather and go for it.
Boost your skills
There’s lots of free online courses you can sign up to boost your skills. During the COVID-19 crisis, lots of online providers have even been offering discounts to help people keep busy and improve themselves during difficult times.
Even if you’re not looking to make a career change, what’s the harm in learning a new hobby? Reading a book? Or, even learning a new language? All these activities are self-development and this is not only essential in today’s working world but can help protect your brain health further down the line.
Get some exercise
Your body needs some attention too. During social distancing and even isolation, when we are physically confined, it can feel harder to get exercise and move your body. But this is vital not only to your physical health and immunity, but your mental health and productivity.
Make time in your day for a workout. However small this may be. Perhaps you want to do a 30-minute workout in the morning and a short walk in the evening (depending on lockdown status). Or perhaps you’d like to go all in for a 2-hour session or break it up into smaller 10-minute activities throughout the day.
Make time for a workout – it helps!
All that matters here is finding a style that works for you and keeping moving. This will help you keep productive in other areas too.
Job search research
There’s no time like the present to start the search for your next job. Use this time wisely to update your CV with all the skills and experiences you have to date. You’ll be surprised at how challenging this can be.
Research opportunities for the future. You might just find a perfect new opportunity. Even if a career change or job jump isn’t on the horizon, you might also consider looking at some of the firms that are seeking temporary workers at this time. Especially the food retail and care industries. If you’re fit and able, of course.
Don’t neglect anxiety
Right now, you’re probably feeling trapped and pretty anxious. Truth is, many of us are. But don’t let those feelings of anxiety overwhelm you and take over your day.
To keep productive and healthy, you need to learn new coping skills so that anxiety doesn’t get on top of you. While keeping busy does help, you will also need to add exercise, and stress relief activities, such as mediation into your daily schedule.
These will help you manage your anxiety better and help you become more equipped to deal with the uncertainty of these times.
Remember you’re not stuck at home, you’re safe at home.
A quick note. Remember to get your facts straight. It can be confusing knowing with information to follow. As the situation is rapidly moving, this can bring on anxiety. We recommend following the official recommendations of your state and the advice of WHO at this time.
Remember! We will get through this
Living with the uncertainty of the coronavirus situation is tough for everyone. But it’s important to remember that we will get through this. But for now, it’s time to stay home and stay safe.