It simultaneously feels like an eternity and no time at all since we went on an official social distancing order at Mirazon (about a month and change). While I’ve worked from home here and there in the past, like when I’m sort of under the weather or I need a lot of uninterrupted time to write a white paper, I have never spent so much time working remotely. Since I’ve been holed up at home, my sense of time has distorted significantly.
That being said, I have learned a lot about how to stay productive and, more importantly, motivated during this time. Maybe some of these strategies will work for you.
Stick to a Routine
Since time has become such a fickle mistress, you may find yourself going to bed later and later and wanting to sleep in longer. Or you plant yourself at your computer to work and you look up and it’s been hours without you noticing and you missed lunch. In the short term, it’s not really a big deal – working from home gives us so much more flexibility in our schedules that we can adjust and throw together a sandwich and move on.
However, the more your daily schedule goes adrift, the more disorienting it can become. And I’ve found that if I put off eating or if my sleep schedule is irregular, it impacts my mood and my productivity.
I’ve also unwittingly joined enough video conferences looking not so tidy enough times now that I least shower before working hours begin. Don’t judge me.
Take Breaks / Get Up and Move
I struggled with this in office life and, while you’d think it’d be the opposite at home, it seems worse now. Left to my own devices, I am so sedentary. I am so sedentary that my rear end has gone numb on me several days in a row. I think this may have been compounded by me not wearing my fitness tracker, which diligently reminded me every hour to get up and move.
So, take those breaks. Stand up, stretch, do 20 minutes of yoga. Take those pups out. Do some laundry. Your spinal alignment will thank you. And, also, your mood will lift.
Video Conference When You Can
Yeah, I just complained about looking haggard on a video call, I know. But being able to see other people’s faces truly does have a profound impact on your communication and the success of your meeting. At minimum you can catch the other person’s nonverbal facial cues or know when someone’s not paying attention. It also keeps you honest with social pressure to at least appear like you’re paying attention (just like with in-person meetings). At maximum it enhances your meeting with just a little more human connection, making you more productive.
If you don’t have a video conferencing solution right now, we can help you examine Microsoft Teams. It comes with your Office (or now Microsoft) 365 licensing and provides chat, video conferencing, and a bevy of other collaboration tools you’ll find extraordinarily useful during this time.
Take a Little Pride in Your Workspace
Try and make a conducive spot to work that’s comfortable enough. Get the resources you need within arm’s reach, like pens and notebooks, a monitor for your laptop, a comfortable chair, a desk if you can … whatever else your job needs (maybe a calculator for you bean counter types). Try and find a workspace that’s as separate from your living space as you can to better segment your activities.
That may not all be possible depending on where you’re living – apartment dwellers probably have to make the best of their kitchen tables. At least try to sit in something more comfortable than your wood spindle kitchen chair.
Seek Natural Light
Get outside for a bit, or at least park yourself by a window for a portion of your day. Psychologists say that natural light helps keep our brain chemistry balanced, especially for sleep cycles and energy. It can also help your mood, especially if you suffer from depression.
Care for Your Mental State
It’s also important to add that it can be easy to get in a slump during a time like this: we’re out of our routine, scary stuff is happening around us, some of us might be worried about job security, etc. so if you have the means and think you need it, you can seek counseling virtually.
I’ve found I have to ration my intake of news. I need to know the latest, but if I allow myself to become inundated I get overwhelmed and anxious.
There you have it – a few steps I’ve taken to keep myself on the rails. Pick and choose what might work for you. Let me know if you have other tips or tricks to stay on track while we’re all apart and working remotely. Trust me, it’ll be good to hear from you, fellow humans.