Working from home: How to be productive, avoid distractions, and burnout in the midst of COVID-19
Home is the new office
For most people the idea of working from home sounds like the ultimate dream. You're freed from waking up before the sun rises and the snooze button for that matter. You're saved from the rush hour in a train packed with other humans. Lastly, you can rock up to "work" — without washing up, make-up free, and even loosing your pants. Seemed like everything we wanted in a job — except — it isn't quite.
If the rise of COVID-19 taught us anything, it's that we all, do think of the office as a second home. Why? Because when the work-from-home slump starts to creep in, it's hard to keep up with the productivity you're wired to when you're at work with your colleagues. There's also the harrowing bit about witnessing how your spouse is really like at work. So when the closest thing to a work wife is your beloved feline, you've got a serious problem on your hands — and it's certainly not because you've run out of sanitisers.
The reality of working from home isn't like what we imagined. Not to mention, isolating and sometimes a bit lonely. But we're adaptable creatures, so as to adjust to the new normal, we're going to put some structure back into your life. Here are some tips to abide by.
Stick to your routine (even if it means putting on a decent shirt)
Whether it is waking up early to get in that morning exercise before work or grimly making the trek to the kitchen for a hot cuppa — everybody has a morning routine. Routine has been shown to make the chaos of everyday life become more containable and controllable. Plus they shift our — often wavering — attention to where we need it the most. So take a shower at the same time before working-from-home became a norm. And whilst pyjama-chic may begin to feel like the new office attire of choice in 2020, you might want to reconsider. Studies have shown that we're more productive when we put in effort in our outfits. Sure, there's no one ideal morning routine that fits everyone but just adding in those basic steps that you used to do can set off a pattern you used to function under back in the office.
Set aside a designated work station
Working on the sofa in front of the latest Netflix series is tempting especially with modern-day portable laptops. However, when you're facing mounting piles of deadlines to meet, it's best to stay away from all potential distractions. Pick out a space in your house, it could be your family dining room or even a kitchen table. If you're lucky enough to have a spare room that is a traffic-free zone, station yourself there. Realistically, it's all up to you. Just be sure to establish a dedicated work place that is a focus hub for all things work — and no play. Here's another word of advice: Do not work from your bed. Trust us, it's a disaster waiting to happen.
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries
If the repetition didn't get to you, then your housemates did. Yes — It can be difficult to create boundaries, especially when you're living with other housemates let alone family. Hence, set aside tight physical boundaries for your designated work space and let it be known to everyone that they should not be crossed. That also includes yourself. Once your working hours are over, leave your work station to "clock out". That means no emails and no work calls. It's easy to get swallowed up with work when the lines between that and chilling out at home are blurred in this temporal situation. So, before you experience burnout from work overload, take a breather and unplug — your mental health will thank you.
Engage in some form of communication
These isolating times can be disheartening, which can affect your motivational factors. Now more than ever, video calls are being placed to catch up with friends from all over the world to see how they're doing amid the worldwide health crisis. Who's to say you can't do the same with your colleagues? Utilise your company's telecommuting devices such as Zoom and check up on your team members. While you're at it, set up a support network of friends and colleagues that are also riding the work-from-home boat. Leave it running in the background whilst you do work and partake in some fun office gossip. Anything to gain normalcy is better in the long run for your work performance and mental wellbeing. Plus, it's a major morale booster for everyone involved.
Switch off when you need to
Spending a disproportionate amount of time working and relaxing at home can make you stir-crazy. But seriously, it's tough for even the average homebody. Make it a point to get outside as much as you can whilst still avoiding physical contact. Walk around your local neighbourhood — whilst keeping a one meter distance — or go for a jog and explore the closest park nearby. We're blessed to live in such a clean, green city like Singapore so make the most of it and enjoy the stunning scenery. If you're not comfortable leaving your house, there are plenty of things to do — get creative. Start reading that book you never had the time for or learn how to cook a different cuisine. Who knows — when all of this is over, you might emerge a new being, in a good way.