Social distancing, quarantine, prolonged lockdown—call it what you want—more than a third of the world’s population is already under lockdown in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been over a year now that a large proportion of the workforce is working from home. The second wave of COVID is worse and it seems like being confined within our homes will be the new normal for some more time. Meaning no trips to the gym, malls, or outdoor sports, and of course no vacations to revitalize oneself anytime soon. Plus, staying indoors for lengthy periods isn’t exactly healthy for mental health.
While some people love working from the office, they can’t imagine anything better than a day with their laptop clad in pyjamas. But not meeting your colleagues, not being able to see your friends frequently, no outdoor activities can lead to an increase in stress and anxiety levels. When stress and anxiety levels increase, it makes it problematic to stay focused and productive, particularly while working at home where distractions may be plentiful.
Here are some tips you can explore to remain focused and productive during this difficult time.
1. Stick to your healthy eating habits
Last year, when the lockdown had just begun and most of us were working from home for the first time, we were super excited to work from home and follow healthy eating habits. Weeks turned to months, and now we are over a year into lockdown. Some of these newfound habits may have changed, with stress and anxiety, some people may be stress eating. Clean your fridge, stock it up with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and other healthy snacks. Another healthy habit to develop is to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Working from home and eating well may seem like an impossible task, and while it may take a little extra self-control and determination, it can be done.
2. Digital Detox
Living in this situation of being locked up at home, we are spending a lot of time on our phones. It could be due to boredom, or a matter of necessity. Also, work pressure has increased, as most of us are away from offices and therefore coordinating with our teammates on phones or through emails. So the screen time on phones, laptops have increased. Set a timeline, let your boss know that you’ll be logging off at a particular time, leaving you enough and plenty of time to spend time with yourself and your family. Even our family members have been watching more TV, reading articles around COVID, etc. Many of us are experiencing nervousness and panic issues due to the sadness and negativity surrounding the pandemic. It’s best to limit your family and yourself to social media and television news. This does not mean we need to be unaware of what’s happening in our circle, but one can always limit it as such things directly impact the mental health of individuals. Additionally, set a time limit on your phone for different applications, limit yourself to only a couple of episodes of your favorite show.
3. Do not miss your home workouts
Working out at home has been a challenge since the time most of us started working from home. Your mind is in a constant battle between wanting to tackle the conundrum of sliding over to your couch for some Netflix after the office work is done, and also wanting to get in shape. We have so much on our plate and fall into routines that do not prioritize healthy activity and often blur the boundaries between work and personal life. Whilst you can make promises to yourself that you will exercise every day, then chances are you will find excuses to miss it out. Just as you create an agenda in your diary to organize your workload and meetings, you should make time to exercise. The exercise routine should be as important as a call with your client or team lead. Some small steps towards getting some physical activity done at home include walking some steps while on a call, stretching in between work hours. While on a brainstorming call with the team, jog on the spot or just do some pushups.
4. Make a quarantine routine to balance work and personal life
While WFH is saving those long travel hours to the office, cutting down on travel costs and fancy office dinners, there are key downsides to remote working too. The balance between work and life is not always easy, especially when one is trying to stay productive and meet deadlines. This is why it is vital to build a work-at-home schedule that works for you (as well as your family) and save your sanity.
When working from home, organize your time just like a regular workday—but with a lot more flexibility and buffer time. Or break your day into big chunks of time and assign each to one specific activity. The point of a routine is to add structure to your day, sustain consistency. Like I mentioned earlier, make sure to let your teammates know that you are not available throughout the day. Set limits, be it work or leisure.
Life during this quarantine, especially with the second wave impacting us far more (and even after lockdown is lifted) can be mentally and emotionally challenging. Meditating for a few minutes each day is a low-effort but high-reward exercise for our minds. It lessens stress and anxiety commendably, along with several immune-boosting benefits. With the lockdown yet again, news of natural disasters, rising Covid cases and being isolated at home, all of these factors can be mentally challenging. Try simple breathing exercises for improved health and move your way up to mindfulness programs that offer guided meditation sessions. And if you are not okay with breathing exercises, try some other approaches to meditation. All you need is your phone, a pair of headphones, some silence, and a decent meditation app.
Working from home does not mean you have to do it all yourself and correctly. You are still working, while your commute has shortened but the work remains or in some cases, has increased. Setting your work at home or working from anywhere schedule is not going to happen overnight. But with trial and error and a whole lot of persistence, you will keep your sanity in balancing your work and home life.
Founder & CEO, Flock and CEO & Co-founder, Zeta