Unless you’ve been living under a seriously sizeable rock, you have probably noticed that the world today is gripped by a novel virus, COVID-19, more commonly known as the Coronavirus. Not to be mistaken with the ice-cold yellow beverage. While the Corona beer brand was reportedly not negatively affected by sharing its name with the virus, companies worldwide are unquestionably feeling the widespread ripple that the virus is causing. In attempts to contain the spread of the virus, governments, one by one, are ordering companies to shut down any co-located work situations, resulting in a new wave of first-time remote workers.
While for some, working from home might be a welcome alternative from the daily sensory-overload of an open-plan office, for others it poses a real challenge: “how on earth am I going to stay focused with the distractions of my home at my fingertips?” As someone who has been working remotely for several months after moving abroad, I also found myself facing this issue. Having had time to contemplate this existential work challenge that many are now facing, I have learned a few effective ways to stay productive, focused and happy, and I would like to share a few of these ideas with you.
Find the rhythm
While it might be tempting to open up your laptop first thing when you wake up and lounge in bed until noon, it’s better to stick to your usual morning routine. Getting ready and dressed (not in your pyjamas!) will probably make you feel fresh and ready for the day.
Keep the rhythm going throughout the day – establishing break times and predefining a time when you’ll call it a day. It’s also helpful to schedule your day in advance. Depending on your energy levels, set your priority of tasks for the day. Are you more of a morning person? Schedule your most important and demanding tasks in the early morning.
Scheduling will give you a clear idea of what your day looks like and will keep you on track with your daily activities.
Prep your work area
The items in your home will likely remind you of an array of chores that need your attention: the clothing you need to wash, the paintings you need to hang, the set-up of your furniture that needs rearrangement.. Don’t let yourself be seduced by these distractions! Claim your workspace and declutter the area.
Of course, you can still personalize your work area and create the right atmosphere. Depending on your line of work, you can add creativity-boosting elements such as fresh flowers and inspiring art, or go for a calm, minimalistic style to promote clarity and focus.
Don’t stay inside all day
Stepping outside and getting your blood flowing can do wonders for your creative mind. Go for a 10 minute stroll around the block and sniff some delicious fresh air. Or take your lunch outside and soak up the sun for a while.
Distinguish online from offline hours
Just because you now essentially live in your office doesn’t mean that you should allow your work to take precedence at all hours. Setting boundaries can be a blessing to your work-life balance. So, save those late night revelations for the next day and allow yourself your downtime.
Stay connected – go virtual
With the concern of catching or spreading germs it’s not easy to interact with other human beings. In order to battle some of the loneliness and to still feel like a social creature, it’s good to have regular touch points with your colleagues or friends via phone or video call.
Chances are, many will find themselves working from home in the coming period. By making adjustments to your setup at home and by implementing habits into your daily routine, you can ease the process of settling into this new reality.
Meanwhile, remind yourself of the advantages: no more daily commute and an increased flexibility in your schedule, freeing up time for other things. Now is a perfect time to pick up that book that you’ve been wanting to read for forever, or to get your fitness game to a higher level. Let’s find positivity in turbulent times.