Most of our daily routines have been interrupted in one way or another due to the ongoing pandemic. With Colombo going through the 3rd and worst wave of the pandemic to date, some of us will likely continue working from home for the next couple of months.
While working from home has its fair share of advantages, it has also taken a toll on us. Human beings, since their origins as Hunter-Gatherers, are not designed to be confined to one place. We are also not meant to spend large swaths of time in solitude. The legendary Greek Philosopher Aristotle once said, “Man is by nature a social animal”.
However, the pandemic has interrupted the routines our brains have been programmed to for years. This has resulted in most of us suffering from sleep disturbances, a lack of energy, feelings of irritability, frustration, increased cravings for food, and even occasional angry outbursts at loved ones over trivial matters.
If you have been suffering from any of the above issues, please know that it’s not your fault that you have been acting up lately. However, what is advisable is that you try and understand the reasons you might be feeling off and take remedial actions to get back on your feet.
Here are 6 tips we compiled to help you stay sane when working from home.
Tip 1: Create yourself a nice home office
To perform at peak levels, you should be able to achieve a flow state of mind. Unfortunately, it is impossible to achieve this flow state when you don’t have a pleasant work environment or get constantly distracted at home.
It’s preferable if this home office has a door that can help you drown out possible distractions. Also, make your loved ones aware that you need space to concentrate on your work. Sharing your schedule with them could help too.
Your brain would switch to ‘productive mode’ when you’re in this work zone and will go back to ‘relax mode’ when you’re out of it.
Tip 2: Have a daily, weekly routine
While working from home provides you with the flexibility to choose your work hours, that can often become a double-edged sword. If you’re not as sharp as you would be in an office environment, you would soon start seeing the line between work and personal time getting blurred. This would have a detrimental effect on you in the long run leading to burnout.
Create a suitable daily and weekly routine to help fix this issue. Go about business as you would at an office. Plan out your week or day well in advance, and try to stick to your schedule as much as possible. You can use Google Calendar or Calendly to jot down your schedule.
Pro Tip: Use different colours to highlight the different activities you have on your Calendar (for example, Red for meetings, Green for Sales pitches, and Blue for Operations work)
You can also use time blocking and time tracking to help you monitor how your time is being spent, which will help you make adjustments to improve efficiency in the future. It’s how you organize the hours that will make the difference.
Tip 3: Take breaks to avoid burnout
It can be tempting to constantly keep working to get more done when you’re working from home. But the work strain can result in burnout if you are not careful. So instead, take regular breaks whenever you get the chance.
There are several techniques you can use to choose when to take breaks.
Pomodoro technique: Put in 25 minutes of uninterrupted, super focused work and take a 5 minutes break. Time is like a Rubber band; what can be done in 3 hours could sometimes take days to complete. Having a ticking clock puts your brain under pressure to perform efficiently.
Use the Forest App: This is a time tracking app where you can set timers of up to 180 minutes. However, you cannot get distracted from work when this app is on; the productive tree you’re planting will die if you do. The app captures all the key statistics on how your time has been spent. You can time your breaks at the end of each work sprint.
Tip 4: Exercise regularly (At least a couple of times a week)
Most high performers start their day with a workout. This gets the blood flowing and your brain sharp to perform at peak levels in the morning itself. This will also give you a healthy kind of fatigue towards the end of the day, which will help improve the quality of your sleep at night.
Exercising will significantly decrease your anxiety levels, boost your endorphins and serotonin to flood your brain with happiness, and boost your physical health.
If you can’t get a hard workout often, at least try and do some Yoga, a quick stretch, or even a Hip-Hop dance.
Tip 5: Eat a healthy diet and stay hydrated
The stress of work and the sorrow of missing your work colleagues and friends could push you towards eating junk as a coping mechanism. However, you probably realize this will only make things worse for you. You need to break this vicious cycle if you’re experiencing this.
The carcinogenic food you consume to fulfil your cravings will result in clogged arteries, reduced blood flow, and sluggish behaviour.
Having a balanced diet of the vital nutrients you need can go a long way in fixing your mental health in these challenging times. What can help you with this further is the habit of drinking plenty of water. Especially in a tropical country like Sri Lanka, where it’s often hot and humid, you must constantly keep yourself hydrated.
Tip 6: Step out to the Garden or your Balcony when you get a minute
Spending time in nature can help battle anxiety, stress, and depression. Having an outdoor walk can help lower your blood pressure and stress hormones.
If you can get out of your house and go for a walk (in a safe manner), that’s great. But if you can’t, you can at least step out to the garden at your home or your Balcony to be one with nature at least for a few minutes a day.
If you have neither a garden nor a Balcony just log on to Noisly and listen to some rain or ocean sounds. That’ll help you calm down and destress.
We only have one life, and we need to try and live it right. Getting organized and planning for the future can help us vastly improve the quality of our life.
We are reasonably confident that applying even a few of these techniques can help you drastically improve your experience of working from home.
If you happen to apply any of these tips and experience any improvements – do let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.