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With many of us working remotely as we continue to practice social distancing thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the distinction between work and home becomes a little blurred.
Is it okay to stay in your pajamas all day and work from the couch? How about fighting the temptation to binge-watch Netflix all day? And what if your Type A personality has you putting in more work hours from home than you would do at the office?
This can be uncharted territory for many of us, but working from home can actually be quite enjoyable – and productive – if you follow a few basic rules.
While it may seem appealing to stay in your pj’s all day, the mere act of getting dressed in proper clothes each morning can increase productivity. Working from home does mean you don’t need to dress as formally as you would if you had to go to the office, but getting out of your pajamas and into a fresh set of clothes can signal to the brain that it’s time to start working.
Create a Schedule
One of the pitfalls of working at home is the temptation to either work too much or set irregular hours. Sit down and come up with a schedule you will stick to that firmly designates when you will start work and when you stop for the day. You will get more accomplished if you give yourself set working hours – and have ‘off-hours’ to look forward to away from work.
Dedicate a Set Office Space
It can be hard to disconnect from work if you find yourself working from your bed, or the sofa. Carve out a section of your home designed to work which, preferably, is separate from the rest of the house. If space is limited and you have to work from the kitchen table make sure you take the time at the end of your scheduled work hours to pack up your work stuff and place it in a drawer or closet so you aren’t tempted to work through the evening.
Limit Cell Phone Notifications & Television
Nothing interferes with productivity more than the constant pinging of cell phone notifications. During your scheduled work-at-home hours turn off cell phone notifications and avoid going down the social media rabbit hole where minutes can quickly turn into an hour of wasted time. The same goes for having the news on in the background. Given the current health scare situation, having the news on can cause anxiety, worry and stress and eat away at whatever focus we need to give to work. Having the television on in the background may seem like a good idea, but in reality, it is just a distraction.
Create a Playlist
It’s proven that certain types of music can help us focus and be more productive. Music services such as Pandora, Amazon Music, and Spotify all have playlists designated towards focus or reading and they can be extremely beneficial if you find yourself having a tough time settling down to work. Can’t find one you love? Take an evening to create your own playlist with songs that help you focus on work.
Stretch Your Legs and Get Fresh Air
Bored and stressed while at home? Work out that stress while keeping physical distance from others – go for a walk or stream your favorite workout online. #PhysicalDistance #StayAtHome #COVID19 https://t.co/1YQ4UWHAkk pic.twitter.com/FCXEq7x4ym
— CDC (@CDCgov) March 26, 2020
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can’t head outside for some fresh air and a walk around the block. Taking time to get outside and stretch your legs can be especially helpful if you’re starting to lose focus. The same goes for taking time to do a quick work-out at home via a fitness app, or YouTube – sometimes all we need is a fast 15 – 20-minute work-out to get our blood pumping. Having a particularly anxious day? Try a guided meditation or yoga session.
Take Time to Socialize
With many of us working from home and practicing social distancing we can end up feeling pretty lonely and miss the small talk of the office. Take time throughout the day to catch up with a co-worker or two through email, or video messaging. With many of us feeling anxious and worried right now, social distancing can really exacerbate those feelings so it’s important to keep in touch with co-workers during working hours and friends during non-working hours.