This year, for obvious reasons, we have seen a significant shift from working in the office to working from home. For many of us fortunate enough to have maintained employment throughout the pandemic, this means that the lines that separate work from leisure time have become increasingly blurred.
With the Covid-19 crisis dragging on for much longer than expected, the novelty and “freedom” associated with remote work is wearing off. Many of us may find ourselves struggling with fatigue from the monotony of it all and staying motivated may be more difficult than it was initially.
Here are three strategies to prevent burn out and improve productivity while working from home.
Designate a workspace: Working from home has its perks—you can wear what you like and the commute is remarkably short—but without creating physical boundaries, your mind will have a harder time maintaining productivity. In other words, activating “work-mentality” will not happen as easily if you try to create an office that doubles as prime napping real estate or a Netflix viewing station. Instead of working in a nest of pillows on the couch, try sitting at the same desk every day for work or even specifying a corner of your dining table as the “office”.
For those who have kids or roommates, these designations can also help indicate to others when you are available for a chat and when they shouldn’t distract you.
Stick to a schedule- Leaving home to go to work is a ritual that helps set the stage for productivity. Similarly, traveling from work to retreat into your home also signals to your mind that you can relax and recharge, guilt-free. Without these separating mechanisms, it is of utmost importance to take on regulating habits that structure your schedule. This will help you avoid letting your workday dissolve into nothingness or alternatively coming out of a work-stupor at 4:00 in the morning only to realize you’ve been at it for much longer than you intended.
Try scheduling morning and evening walks to mimic the action of commuting to and from work, or partaking in whatever refreshing activity that suits you best.
Take breaks: Studies suggest that our attention works like a muscle—if it’s used for an extended period of time, it can become worn out. Taking breaks is a more effective way to boost productivity than forcing yourself to trudge through hours and hours of work. The beauty of working from home is that there is a lot more freedom when it comes to personalizing break times.
Pay attention to the times of day when you feel the most fatigued and when you find you are more inclined to stay focused and motivated. Customize your schedule to accommodate fixed breaks that correspond to your productivity levels, whether that means an extended lunch and later ending time or early morning relaxation sessions followed by work hours that spread into the evening.