To curb the spread of the coronavirus, many Filipino employers have allowed their staff to work from home. As you know, not everybody has been granted this opportunity, and those who can earn a living from their homes are very lucky to do so.
For those who suddenly find themselves without an office, the adjustment can be startling. With so many distractions nearby, how do you manage to stay focused? Now that your travel plans are currently on pause, here’s how you can stay productive at home.
1. Organise your workspace
Whether you’re staying in an apartment or a house, the first step is to dedicate a space that’s purely for work. Keep this corner free from disturbances. And in the same way you would decorate a cubicle, you can surround yourself with objects that motivate you, such as souvenirs or postcards from your travels. If you can work near a window and can see the sunlight, that’s even better.
If you’ve stayed in one spot for too long and it doesn’t seem to be working out anymore, you can also rotate between other areas in your living space. That said, we don’t recommend working from your bed. Just as you should train your mind to associate your desk with working, you should preserve your bed as a place for rest and relaxation. Also, should you decide to work on your bed, chances are high that you will end up sleeping!
2. Prepare for work the way you normally would
Treat working remotely just like any other day at the office! Do your morning rituals: Take a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, etc. What this does is help you prepare for the long day ahead of you. You can even dress up a bit, if you miss wearing nice clothes for the office.
3. Establish a routine
With many distractions around you, it’s incredibly easy to lose track of the time. Nothing is more tempting than to enter full couch potato mode.
However, the trick is to find a routine that works for you and stick with it. It doesn’t need to be too strict; just have a general idea of how your day will go. Wake up at 9am, eat lunch at 12pm, take a coffee break at 3pm, and so on. All the while, you can set timers or use productivity apps that will aid you in focusing on your tasks.
4. Find your groove
This is going to sound crazy, but we all have our habits and unique rituals that make us more productive somehow. Some people find that standing at their desks makes them work faster. Some people have to pace around the room just to get their brain juices flowing. Meanwhile, others can’t start their day without downing at least two cups of coffee. If it makes you more efficient, why not?
5. Take breaks
If you’re going to work from home, you have to take breaks once in a while. Do it for your sanity, as well as your tired eyes. Contrary to the popular belief that you should work non-stop, it’s actually unhealthy. Taking a time out, on the other hand, will help you build endurance and not burn out too quickly.
Normally, an office colleague will nudge you to grab lunch outside or gossip in the pantry, which is usually your signal to take a breather. At home, though, you have to listen to your body and know the lulls and bursts in your energy. If it’s time for lunch, go have lunch.
6. Have snacks and water nearby
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Keeping a tumbler at your desk is a great way to ensure that you sip enough water throughout the day. Have a few yummy and healthy snacks nearby, too. This way, you can nibble on biscuits, fruit chips, or any nutritious merienda whenever your energy runs low. Just to perk you up during lulls in the afternoon!
7. Get exercise
Chances are that if you work from home, you probably spend a lot of time hunched over a screen. All those hours of typing away at the computer can be hard on your back and neck. To avoid discomfort, try to get up and walk around the room every so often. Stretch your arms and legs, rotate that stiff neck, and loosen up your wrists to improve blood circulation.
8. Cut down on social media
Scrolling through the internet can feel like going deeper into a black hole of bad news. Not everyone can afford to distance themselves from social media, especially if your industry requires you to stay updated. But if you feel like some reports are beginning to ramp up your anxiety, it’s okay to limit your exposure to a few platforms or trusted accounts.
9. Keep in touch with people
Social interactions can drain your energy, it’s true. But after a few weeks of working remotely, you can find yourself missing the small details of office life, too. Like chilling with co-workers on a Friday night, for example. Loneliness and feelings of isolation can settle in, and you may feel an urge to chat up random people for no reason at all.
Interacting with other people makes us feel like we’re part of a community. Even if you’re an introvert, it’s crucial to reach out to friends who will be there for you. Be it through a text or online message, a colleague or a friend outside of work, you should definitely make an effort to keep in touch with people.
10. Don’t overthink
The thing about working from home is that it encourages reflection. Maybe too much reflection? At times, you can catch your mind drifting and wondering. One thought leads to the next; and before you know it, you’re second-guessing your decisions.
Retreating into moments of uncertainty and doubt while you work from home can be difficult to avoid. After all, there’s not really anyone around to contradict you. More often than not, though, we are our worst critics. Before you jump to any conclusions, breathe, and talk yourself down by telling yourself that it’s probably in your head. Or reach out to your co-workers, who could be feeling the same way as you.
11. Clock off
Wrap up your work when it’s time to log off. Admittedly, it’s hard to turn away from work when it’s, well, right there. Not to mention it’s easy to get carried away when you’ve hit your momentum, and you feel like you could go all night. But knowing when to stop and sign out is necessary for work-life balance.
Mentally separate the time that you spend working and the time you dedicate to yourself. For many people, it’s “out of sight, out of mind” the moment they leave the office. Since your office is now also your home, it helps to have a designated time when your brain can pull away, internally do the peace sign, and say, “I’m out!”
12. Enjoy your hobbies
As soon as you’re done with work, find something else to do. Catch up on documentaries. Listen to podcasts. Binge-watch romantic comedies. Water your plants. Test your cooking skills with a recipe you’ve been dying to try. Take up a hobby that has nothing to do with your job or your side hustle. Carve out a space and time that’s just for you, so you can escape and de-stress after working hours.
13. Get a full night’s sleep
One good thing about trying to work from home? You can catch up on all the hours of your life that would’ve been spent in traffic or commuting. Getting complete sleep makes a huge difference in productivity; at least seven to eight hours of sleep are recommended. For better sleeping habits, put your laptop away and switch off your phone before going to bed.
And if you still have a lot of work to catch up on, you can always continue the next morning. Generally speaking, it’s easier to wake up earlier in the day than it is to stay up all night.
Also read: How to Become a Digital Nomad
At the end of the day, a work from home arrangement has its own rhythm and responsibilities. But it’s not too different from the things you need to do in order to establish a healthy work-life balance.
If there’s any takeaway we wish to emphasise, it’s to set boundaries between your work life and the times when you aren’t working. Follow this, and you’ll be crushin’ it!