Another lockdown, another month of working at home. Working from home used to be our dream, but have you ever found it more overwhelming than working in your office? Some days you feel like you are trying to squeeze everything into one day and overworking; other days you realize it’s 5 p.m., and you just replied some emails because you spent hours searching for a perfect desk on IKEA. It can be even more exhausting for business owners as you already have so many hats to wear.
Why is it so hard? Too much screen time, too much distraction, a lack of boundaries between work and home, endless video calls… Your entire office has turned into one, or maybe two small screens. You no longer go out to visit clients, you no longer drink coffee with your coworkers in the common area, you no longer take hours to celebrate one’s birthday during lunch hours. We can steal the idea of David Dennis here: You waste the same amount of time at the office. You just feel more guilty about it now.
It’s important to make sure we take care of ourselves and don’t burnout or underperform while working remotely. As Leonardo Da Vinci said, “While you are alone you are entirely your own master.” Here’s how:
Solution #1. Keep Your Routine
Although we hate commuting, the time we spend on road creates a boundary between work and home, which reminds us that we need to turn on our work mode. If we sit in front of the screen directly from bed, our brain is not perfectly ready for the work intensity.
So, keep some routines as your “daily commuting”. As comfortable as your pajamas can be, it’s better to wear something more formal and “uncomfortable” in the morning, so your body knows you are not just relaxing. Ladies can even put on some makeup, and you will feel much better whenever you look into the mirror. These rituals enable you to gather your energy, assume your work character and get into the right headspace to dive in.
Solution #2. Keep Socializing When You Miss People
Human beings are born to connect with other human beings. Connecting with other people is needed more than ever to stay healthy, productive, happy and sane. Use tools like Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Facebook Workplace and Trello to stay connected with friends and colleagues at work. You can hold virtual meetings, jump on a phone call, or send a friend a text. Reach out and support one another. Your coworkers may just starve for conversation as you are.
Solution #3. Create A Distinct Work Space
Space affects our mentality so much. When you work from home, it’s easy to curl up in bed with a laptop and pretend that you’re “working”. If you let your work invade that space where you relax and recharge, you will never sleep soundly there again.
Instead, enforce good boundaries and build a separate home office just for work. It can be a study room, a desk or even a table in the kitchen. The thing is when you’re in that area you’re at work, and when you’re not you’re at home. Set rules like “when I sit in front this desk, I won’t browse Amazon or watch Netflix”. Plus, tidy up your desk to simulate the separate office space. Even just desk clutter and notebooks can be stressful to look at and distracting when you are trying to focus.
Solution #4. Cancel Noise for Focus
Working from home may expose you to sounds that become irritating or unbearable over time: traffic and street noise that penetrate through windows, the tick of a clock somewhere, etc. If you have kids, they probably would be playing close to your workspace.
Noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds are great at removing those sorts of sounds almost entirely. They can also dull the sound of talking if you’re in a place in which other people have to also function. Wearing your headphone also sends a signal to your family or roommates that you are working and don’t want interruption at this moment. For some, it works even better when they have their favorite playlist on.
As the lockdown continues, remote work is here to stay. Among all these suggestions, the most important thing is to find out what works best for you and be gentle with yourself. If you didn’t cross off every box on your to-do list, remember, there’s always tomorrow.
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