In the past week, most large companies from Romania and not only have implemented work from home policies for an indefinite period of time to address the rising number of cases of Covid-19. Although some of the employees are well accustomed to this practice, there are a lot of people who are doing work from home for the first time.
Some are worried that they will not keep up with the tasks and demands, others that they will feel the isolation hitting hard and others that they will not be able to concentrate. Isolation is not good for anyone and in the long term, it can actually cause more anxiety, depression, and burn-out.
Let’s see what you can do in order to keep up with work and your emotional safety:
- Try to wake up at a time as close as the one you would have when going to the office and keep your routine: get dressed, shower, have coffee. This will help you maintain the same mental routine and give you a sense of control over your schedule. No matter how comfy your pajamas are, they will keep you in the “resting” mode and prevent you from putting it all in.
- Exercise and get some sun. Part of what makes you concentrate at work is the fact that you go outside, walk or take stairs. There is no reason to stop doing this if you are inside. Open the windows, stretch or use youtube video to do some basic exercises. This will boost your energy, pump your muscles and fill your brain with endorphins which help you concentrate and perform better.
- Plan your work. Ok, your daily status meeting where you discussed the tasks with your colleagues was keeping you focused on the days’ to-dos. You can continue to plan in the afternoon what you want to cover the next day and actually do a status meeting with your colleagues at the same time as you would do at the office. This will help you become less distracted and it will give you a sense of the workload so you can schedule your time better. Also, it is a good procrastinate buffer.
- Set boundaries in space and time. Create your own space where the office is and do this far from the TV, the kitchen and other distractions. Also, establish your working hours and stick to them. It is so easy to get distracted by some news, a song, a snack, but this will only make things harder. A lack of structure in the schedule can lead either to working until you have to go to bed or you are exhausted or to procrastinate easier. Both are a good indicator of burn out. Deciding to stop at 6 or 6.30 pm is a boundary exercise that gives you control of your time and a sense of accomplishment.
- Monitor your thinking and mood. If you start to become stressed that you cannot cope or isolated it is a good idea to stop and see what is going on in your mind. Some people I worked with thought that working from home means that they have to work harder and put a lot of pressure on themselves. With others, they were never sure of the quality and accurateness of their work so they improved and improved until they got burned out. These behaviors are all signs that you are working with rigid rules about yourself and the work that you do: “I must always do a good job or else… lose respect, my job, disappoint, etc.”
- Take breaks. This is even more important when working from home because it’s tempting to get through all the tasks to finish quicker. Plan your tasks and after each of them take a break – whether it is staring out the window for 10 minutes, talking on the phone, playing with your cat. This also regulates blood pressure and maintains an optimal concentration.
- Plan something fun to do in the afternoon. This will really help you maintain your schedule and give you something to look forward to. It is an extra motivation to stop working at your desired time and just take time off. A movie, dinner a bath are all good ideas.
We are all living events that have never happened before. Worry and uncertainty are pretty normal, however, take time to adjust. Work from home is an activity that needs testing until you find the right schedule and method for you.
Give yourself space to adjust and don’t panic if there are a couple of days when you don’t manage to do much. Find the right fit for you and adjust your expectations. You might find out that working from home is actually better and more productive.