During the initial couple of days, working from your couch indefinitely might have seemed like the only silver lining in this drab pandemic-ridden cloud. But as we cross the 6-month mark of this office-less lifestyle, a lot of us also feel like we're crossing the threshold of our patience. I for one never thought I'd say this, but honestly, I'm so tired of walking from my bed to my desk in lieu of going to the office, and sitting in the same pyjamas for four meetings straight, with an occasional change of t-shirt.
From the muddling of all boundaries between life and work, to a progressively plummeting level of motivation, to catering to about a thousand household distractions in the middle of the work-day, the list of my reasons for growing agitated with permanent work from home runs overwhelmingly long. To be entirely honest here, maintaining a balance between my life and my job didn't ever come very easy to me. But you know what, even with long hours and a heavy workload, I did manage to draw a line between my tasks as an employee and my errands as a person. Because in the pre-Corona world, it was as simple as shutting off your laptop, stepping out of the office, and calling it a day. But now that most of us have gone from strictly 9 to 5 to 24 hours availability, none of that is remotely close to being easy. And as undesirable byproducts of this inability to switch off and retreat, we've been blessed with acute stress, inclining frustration, and the claustrophobic experience of feeling trapped.
But, as much as I hate to say it (and trust me I really do), 2020 is the year of "it is what it is". It's terribly annoying, but our burgeoning pile of WFH struggles, isn't going to do much to alter the reality of the world. At your wits' end or not, going to the office just isn't safe. So what we can do instead, is help our body and mind settle into the space we inevitably have to be in, for the foreseeable future. And with that thought in mind, here's a curated list of 10 tips that will help you stay sane as you continue to work from home!
1. Start Your Day Right
I know you're bored of hearing it, but how you spend your morning does set the tone for the rest of the day. You want to start your work-day with a productive headspace, and not with a mood for procrastination. The basic nuggets of advice still apply, like getting up as early as you can, getting some exercise in, and having a nourishing breakfast. One of the easiest ways to get into a zone of focus and motivation, is to start your day with a feeling of accomplishment and discipline. So set up a rewarding morning routine, and stick to it! It'll also help you keep the grogginess at bay.
2. Put On Casual Work Clothes
Now, we aren't asking you to put on a three-piece suit, or even a formal shirt and trousers combo. But changing out of the PJs you slept in the previous night, is a good idea. If you want to stay sane and stress-free during this whole work from home predicament, compartmentalization is going to be your best friend. And assigning different casual-comfy clothes for office and downtime, is a good place to start. It happens to a super-easy hack to getting yourself pumped up to work as well.
3. Have A Separate Designated Work Space
Speaking of compartmentalization, this one tip is super-important. If you've been rolling over when you wake up and working right from your bed, it's high time you stopped. Not having a designated workspace is the easiest way to blur your boundaries, and the next thing you know you're snoozing when you're supposed to work, and working when it's time for rest. Even if you don't have an expansive mahogany desk to spare, creating a workspace can be as simple as putting up a chair and a laundry basket as a table. If at all possible, try to carve out a space to work in a different room than your bedroom. Set up a wall with post-it reminders and some printed motivational quotes, and you'll find yourself more in the mood to work than ever!
Image Courtesy - Pexels
4. Set A Strict In-Time & Out-Time
Working from wherever, office timings are still office timings. A simple way to stay on track as you would if you had a physical office to head to, is to follow the same hours you would there. Decide on a time when your work-day begins and a time for when it ends, and strictly follow it. No work before that, and no work after. Not only will this give your day a sense of structure, but it will also encourage you to stay productive and finish up all your tasks during your work hours.
5. Schedule Short But Sufficient Breaks In Between
Just like you took small breaks with your colleagues to refresh during busy office hours along with a longer break for lunch in the middle, schedule similar rest pockets throughout your work from home day. It's important to step off the desk to recharge your mind and get back to work with renewed energy. That being said, it's highly advisable to time your breaks and set up alarms. A 5-minute break is more likely to turn into an hour of scrolling through your social media feed when you're working from home.
Image Courtesy - Pexels
6. Use Tools To Minimise Distractions
If pings from colleagues and text notifications keep taking you away from the work you're supposed to be focusing on, there are a bunch of apps, tools and Chrome extensions that will help minimise those. Some examples include UBLOCK ORIGIN, Stay Focused, Momentum and ToDoIst. You can also download apps categorically designed to block the usage of social media websites during a specific period of time.
7. State Your Boundaries
This includes both the people you work with, as well as the people you share a house with. After you've decided on specific work hours that you will restrict your availability to, communicate those clearly to your co-workers and superiors. Be polite but stern about what your boundaries are. Don't bite off more than you can chew by taking on additional tasks or offering to help your colleagues when you're nowhere close to being done with your own workload. Similarly, talk to your family or flatmates about your work timings, and request them not to disturb you during those times. If that doesn't work, lock your door when you're working!
8. Schedule A Time For Communication
This includes responding to texts, replying to emails, attending online meetings, as well as calling your coworker to gossip about your boss. Schedule two half an hour slots in your workday meant just for communication. Make sure for the rest of the duration, you put your phone on Do Not Disturb, and avoid talking to anybody unless it's an emergency. And remember, emergencies tend to be infrequent.
9. Use Incentives
Since you can no longer motivate yourself to get through the workday, by dangling the promise of an after-work bar session with your colleagues at the back of your mind, you need to find new incentives. It could be a snack during the post-afternoon slump, or a 5 minute stretch in the middle of the morning, or perhaps a quick stand-up episode, but make use of incentives to keep your urge to finish a chunk of work ignited.
10. Move Your Body
We were already talking incessantly about how sedentary our lifestyles were, long before WFH went from being something you ask for, to a permanent status you need to follow. And that was when you at least had to get up to commute to work, if nothing else. But now that we're all working from the confines of our houses, the number of steps we manage to get in has reduced considerably. As you can imagine, the constant hunching over the desk, followed by lying on the bed with our necks propped up and eyes on the Netflix screen, cannot possibly be doing your body any good. Including some physical movement in your routine is not only important for your bones and muscles, but also to help you ward off a depressed state of mind. If an hour-long workout session seems like too much of a stretch, just go for a walk and jog right after you shut off your laptop for the day.
Image Courtesy - Pexels
With just some patience and perseverance, we promise we'll get through this!