These Work-from-home Hacks Are the Difference Between Stir-crazy and Serenity

  • Megan Douglas
  • 03/17/20


How to chill out when you’re feeling cooped up.

FaceTiming coworkers, Slacking from bed, making calls in the kitchen—for a lot of us, this is a new reality. In the hope of slowing the spread of COVID-19, many companies in the U.S. are encouraging employees to skip the office and work from home. So what does that really look like? Living in your pajamas sounds nice at first. But then the idea of being cooped up in your house or a tiny apartment with roommates starts to sink in and it all seems like a recipe for going stir-crazy.
 
Pushing yourself to be productive is one thing; figuring out how to move your body, take breaks, and wind down at the end of the day is another. Advice from some WFH veterans via Domino:

Take a Walk

Trinity Mouzon Wofford, the founder of Golde, runs her business out of her apartment, so she’s used to having to make an extra effort to disconnect from her inbox. Toward the end of the day, she’ll pop out for a walk around her neighborhood. Some fresh air, a bit of stretching, and a solid hour of natural light can make a world of difference.

Try Meditating

According to Sarah Romotsky, head of health and science strategy at Headspace, studies have shown that just one 15-minute meditation session can result in reduced stress, feeling calmer, and a decreased heart rate. Do it in the morning after breakfast or give it a go when you feel a lull in motivation coming on—it can reduce mind wandering and increase focus by 22 percent, she says.

Become a List Person

As far as staying on track with tasks goes, writing out your to-dos is the easiest way to ensure you accomplish things on a daily basis. Author Amanda Montell likes to keep hers realistic by only focusing on achievable goals. “I do this in my Google calendar nothing fancy or complicated,” she says.

Switch Spots During the Midday Slump

Be mindful of changing up your environment, notes designer Ginny Macdonald, who worked on the Create & Cultivate office. Going from a high table to an upright desk chair to a lounger will keep your mind active and alert, and it will also remind you to chill out every once in a while.

9 More Tips from Forbes:

Productivity Tips For Working At Home

 
1. Confine your work space to a specific area in your home so your job doesn’t intrude into the lives of other household members and you can concentrate. Have a space that you designate as your workstation instead of checking emails, voicemails or texting in front of TV or spreading work out on the kitchen table. Make your space a stress-free zone of quiet and solitude where you can concentrate. If you don’t have a separate room, find an area with minimum traffic flow or a corner of a room off from the main area.
 
2. Block the neighbor’s barking mutt, excess noise from household members or ambient traffic with noise cancelling head phones or ear buds. Studies show that a delicate blend of soft music combined with soothing nature sounds—such as waterfalls, raindrops, a rushing brook or ocean waves—activates the calming part of your brain, helps you concentrate and lowers heart rate and blood pressure
 
3.Go to the same designated place on a regular basis so your mind doesn’t wander, you can focus and increase your productivity. Establish water-tight psychological boundaries so you’re not constantly reminded of temptations around you (there’s chocolate cake in the fridge) or unfinished personal tasks—such as doing laundry, vacuuming or organizing your spice rack—that otherwise could compromise your productivity. And complete these personal activities outside of work hours as you normally would.
 
4. Set water-tight physical boundaries around your designated work space that is off limits for housemates. Treat it as if it’s five miles across town, and ask house members to consider it as such (e.g. no interruptions from another room when you’re engrossed in a project unless an emergency). If possible, only go to your designated space when you need to work. Stick to a regular schedule, and keep your work space at arm’s-length after hours. Try to maintain the same hours you log in at the office so you don’t get swallowed up by the workload.
 
5. After a reasonable day’s work, put away your electronic devices and work tools just as you would store carpentry tools after building shelves or baking ingredients after making a cake. Keeping work reminders out of sight keeps them out of mind and helps you relax and recharge your batteries.
 
6. Discourage personal intrusions. If you’re a teacher or doctor, friends don’t just stop by the office to chat, hang-out or interrupt your work. But sometimes well-intended friends, family members and neighbors think working at home is different. Interruptions and personal phone calls can cause you to lose your focus, procrastinate or get behind on a deadline. It’s important to prevent intrusions into your work space by informing others that although the location of your job has changed, it is no different from any other profession requiring privacy and concentration. Notify others that during at-home work hours you’re unavailable and cannot be interrupted. And let them know the after hours when you’re available to connect.
 
7. Employ your video communications perhaps more than you normally would, now that you’re more isolated. Make sure you have your company’s telecommuting devices—such as Zoom—hooked up and ready to go so you can stay connected with team members or office mates and you’re available for video calls and teleconferencing. If you start to feel lonely, consider setting up a support group of friends and colleagues who are also working at home by satellite. Make plans to meet on a regular basis and share creative ways you’ve adjusted to the new situation.
 
8. Avoid cabin fever. Now that you’re spending a disproportionate amount of time at home, get outside as much as possible with gardening or walking around the block. Mounting research shows that spending time in nature lowers stress, helps you relax and clears your mind. After work hours, enjoy other areas of your home: watching a good movie, reading a book, or cooking a fun meal. And lead as much of a full social life as possible such as having non-symptomatic friends over for dinner. The new normal is not to limit social devices but to take advantage of them. Use Facetime, Facebook or Skype with friends and family members so you feel connected to the people in your life that you care about.
 
9. Keep your attitude in check. Above all, be creative and don’t let your confined circumstances dwarf your tranquility, happiness or productivity. Your greatest power is your perspective. It can victimize you or empower you. When you look for the upside in a downside situation and figure out what you can control and what you can’t, it’s easier to accept whatever is beyond your control. Your best ally is to find the opportunity in the difficulty during an uncontrollable situation instead of the difficulty in the opportunity. Take advantage of this restrictive time to clear clutter out of your basement, pull weeds in the garden or get caught up on fun hobbies you’ve neglected for a while.

 

 

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