WFH aka Work From Home has become the newest acronym to trend in popularity. In a matter of days, the majority of us had our normal regular routine completely turned upside down as the quarantine period hit us. During the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies, universities, and schools all around the world have instructed their employees or students to work from home.
But when one is not used to working at home, it can be a frustrating and lonely enterprise in this era of social distancing. It takes disciplined focus under ordinary circumstances—and times are anything but ordinary. With the proper tools, we can kickstart productivity this quarantine without panicking and while lowering stress.
One of the biggest struggles people are facing while being quarantined is staying productive. Because your days may be stuck behind those four walls for a bit, we’re taking a look at some tips to help improve your productivity and help you adjust to your new situation during these trying times.
Following a routine
The human brain likes routine. It insulates our brain from decision fatigue and can provide comfort during times of uncertainty. Make your own routine on how to go about the day and jot down the tasks on a paper or an online diary, whatever you feel comfortable with. Simple things like waking up in the morning, watering your plants, eating meals at fixed hours each day, going to bed at the same time each night will positively help in setting up the biological clock.
Work from home
Try to go to the same designated place daily so your mind doesn’t wander. Confine your workspace to a specific area in your house. Have a space that you designate as your workstation instead of checking emails, texting in front of a TV or spreading work out on the kitchen table. Try to maintain the same hours you log in at the office so you don’t get swallowed up by the workload. Notify others that during at-home work hours, you’re unavailable and cannot be interrupted.
During this pandemic, the most important thing to take care of is your body, your health, and keeping the immunity high! We all know exercise relieves stress and endorphins flow which is the feel-good hormone. These are gloomy times and we need those endorphins to keep us going. We need to feel good and sane all the more, now more than ever before.
Mental health & Spirituality
Try something new you haven’t tried before. If you haven’t tapped into the spiritual side yet, give it a chance. Take up meditation for example. Although, it need not be the age-old procedure if you feel that’s boring or unachievable. Find something which calms you and has a calming effect on your mind and soul. For some people, colouring books prove to be therapeutic, some specific songs, a good book or just some alone time with something that you believe in.
Try to be at peace without any interruptions for at least 15-20 mins per day. Avoid thinking about other things during that time and focus on just a single thing. Anything that’s therapeutic and heals you and makes you feel alive, that’s meditation for you. Just pick up something you love and do it consistently, trust me you’ll get there!
Be realistic about your tasks and if you feel like you’re being drained by the end of the day, try to space things out. One of the aspects of this pandemic is how emotionally and mentally draining it can be on an individual. If you feel like you need a break from things for a while, do that.
Keeping work reminders out of sight keeps them out of mind and helps you relax and recharge your batteries. During such stressful times, taking care of ourselves becomes more important than ever. But self-care isn’t solely about eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, or getting daily exercise, though those are vital components. It also means taking care of our mental and emotional health.
If this is your first time, don’t hesitate and give it a try. You never know what new side of your personality you might tap into. Don’t be lazy, take up that unfinished book and complete it now. Explore different genres and find out what do you like the most. If you are already a reader, it’s the perfect time to read all those recommendations which you have been putting aside due to lack of time. There are so many good books out there. Read a few this quarantine!
Revive an old hobby, be it gardening, sketching, writing, cooking new dishes, making videos, whatever it is that you enjoy. Creativity is a very significant aspect which we usually tend to ignore in our monotonous life. This is the perfect time to go back to that hobby. Now, when there is less time to interact in person, there is more time reserved to finish the important things you’ve been putting off.
Updating our Skillset
This the perfect time to upgrade your skills, technical knowledge, take up a new course, foray into a new domain, explore and figure out what interests you the most and what you actually like doing. Generally, people complain of not getting enough time to pursue something, to update themselves, learn something new. The plethora of online courses and resources available will surprise you for sure. Learn them and start to leverage them to keep you productive. That hour of focused learning will save you tons of hours later in lost productivity. In this age and time, opportunities for learning are limitless.
Helping with the domestic chores
This lockdown, people have gone back to something as basic as cleaning and keeping their houses germfree and clean as an essential and therapeutic task. Go around your house space and take up things like doing your own laundry, ironing your clothes, dusting, gardening, washing your utensils, cooking your own food etc to keep your mind at work. This may seem a lot for a first-timer but invest this time to learn these basic survival life skills. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself for this later in life.
If you don’t know how to cook a meal this is the perfect time for you to learn this important life skill. There will be times especially for students where they might live alone in different cities, and its always better to know how to feed yourself, instead of being dependent on others. If you know how to cook, consider half the headache gone in times to come!
Breaks are important and so is entertainment. Unfortunately, it has always been a big part of our life, and more so now. We do feel bored and some laughs never hurt anyone! But this certainly doesn’t mean you should be sitting and watching an entire season of The Office and hamper your work schedule. Don’t make your day a Netflix marathon all the time. Of course, it’s a great medium to watch amazing shows and movies all around the world but it can also make you waste a whole lot of time.
Set up a work goal, each day or every week and do try to achieve it honestly, following which you can sneak in some entertainment in between for the chill. It shouldn’t be the other way round! Trust me, I have been there and regretted it. If you have the facility, go for a walk or step outside for 10 minutes. If you’re unable to leave your house at this time, try to do some stretches or schedule quick phone calls with family when you need a break from work.
Our social life has gone for a toss for sure. It’s affecting the extroverted people the most while not sparing the others either. The introverts seem to be holding up better but I am sure they are missing the fast-paced lifestyle and all that noise and ho-hum of a hectic busy life as well. Try to avoid cabin fever.
Lead as much of a full social life as possible. The new normal is not to limit social devices but to take advantage of them. Take the help of technology and use FaceTime, Facebook, or Skype with friends and family members. Stay connected to the people in your life that you actually care about.
Be realistic about your goals and avoid getting over-ambitious and trying to get it all done in one go. The keyword here is flexible. If you’re not a morning person, more than likely this quarantine isn’t going to magically turn you into one. Create a schedule that is actually reasonable for your lifestyle. Say you always wanted to learn dancing, lose weight, follow a new diet, or any other goal.
The point is not to burden oneself with too many goals at a time. Its practically not possible to achieve altogether, more so in these circumstances. Take one mini goal at a time and focus on it. Say you want to lose weight but also want to try vegetarianism or veganism for the fact. Don’t be too hard or strict with yourself.
Don’t try to go from a hardcore non-vegetarian to veganism all at once. The shift won’t be possible that easily and you will get cranky, demotivated and then stress about it later. It is not a healthy or feasible way to go about such major changes. Stay focused, take baby steps and you’ll achieve it all.
The concept of Wuliao
On a slightly different note, there is a unique concept in China called “Wuliao”. It means “the absence of conversation” and generally means “too bored.” The ‘too’ is the key here that describes the kind of extreme restless energy born from an abundance of time and a dearth of substance. It perceives boredom as a privilege.
For example, Wuliao means you do not work out to achieve your dream body or weight goal. You work out to take good care of your health and to feel alive in your body. Don’t take up something because everyone else is doing so. (Oops! Did it remind you of Dalgona coffee?) Do something because you really want to do it and not just because of peer pressure.
COVID-19 has already created a horrifying new reality for a lot of people living in the virus’ epicentres. So many people have lost their jobs, their people, and their sense of security. Many of us have experienced such losses ourselves. Trying to be productive in the face of this pandemic can be compared to trying to win a sword fight with a sourdough starter. If you’re someone suffering through these real tragedies, avoid stressing about it. Please don’t feel guilty that you haven’t started a side business or been super productive all this while. It’s not only silly, but it’s also noxious.
Overall the point of wuliao is not to think about the future. Any hobby starts becoming toxic when we start to approach it with the mindset of reaping efforts. Creativity and openness, in a way, craves boredom and nothingness! The only two things some of us are so lucky enough to have in abundance right now. Just don’t let it go to waste.