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Working from home has never been more common. With the virus still looming, many of us have transitioned comfortably to a remote office. When the bathroom and fridge aren’t far away, most stresses have been taken care of by proximity to our needs. The cooler months, though, provide a different issue for confronting procrastination tendencies.
When the cold starts settling in, our usual outdoor walks and exercises might be harder to engage in. We need to adapt to new ways of achieving focus indoors. Optimizing your room, office, or working area for better concentration is one of the best things you can do to keep us productive. Here is a list of tips and tricks you can use to improve your work environment and ensure your space is practical for the winter months.
This seems like an obvious suggestion, but cleaning your desk is great for increasing productivity. There are times where there are so many tchotchkes and bottles on my desk, I have to fight to make space for my laptop. As I’m rearranging the various dirty dishes, it often dawns on me that reconfiguring my space might ease my mind and advance my focus.
When working on a desk at home, we often assemble everything on it in mountainous, distracting piles. This could be doable, but “a crowded desk can make it harder to focus”. Take some extra minutes to put away books, magazines, and loose papers in their proper spots. Even removing all the dishes and trash can open up your work surface and allow your necessary materials to fit. It’s hard to complete tasks efficiently when you’re looking at mismanaged clutter. Give yourself some time to clean your workspace and you’ll definitely see the improvements in your concentration.
When we’re out in the normal world, we often have break time scheduled outside of our office spaces. Whether you’re working a service industry job or at a tech company, eating lunch or snacking away from your workstation is common practice for decompressing. Especially when it comes to nourishing our bodies, eating meals throughout the day is ideal for completing our daily assignments.
Walking away from the desk and allotting time for meals is imperative for a productive home environment. Trying to eat while continuously typing is not good for one’s brain or endurance. Sitting somewhere else and giving yourself the time to relax and eat can improve the day and your assignment completion. No one can work continuous hours straight without a break; give yourself designated meal times to ensure that your self-nourishment doesn’t dissipate.
There are some days when you’re heading to work on a chilly morning and all you want to do is change into some sweatpants and go home. With so many days in quarantine, though, never changing out of your comfy clothes might come as an eventual mental block.
When it comes to working in a conducive manner, getting out of your pajamas and into work apparel can ignite your focus. Going about a daily morning routine, as if you’re heading out of the house, can help prepare your mind for a functional day. Putting on an outfit can aid in creating a sense of mental preparedness. Though it might feel like only clothes, getting dressed can indicate the “differentiation of being in work mode and having leisure time”. Fulfilling this normal routine, like old times, is a perfect way to get your mind ready and productive.
Days in quarantine can often feel endless. With so many distractions and seemingly infinite free time, sometimes organizing your time is the only tool that can ensure productivity.
The Pomodoro Technique is one method for structured working that can come in handy for those craving interruptions. For me, sitting still is consistently my most arduous duty. The technique implements short breaks in half-hour increments to give wandering minds rewards for undisturbed focus. Every twenty five minutes of work comes with a five minute break and then repeats. This can create a “sense of urgency” to motivate the mind and keep you engaged in your assignment.
If you’re better at concentrating than I am, structuring longer morning and afternoon chunks for work can also keep you attentive. “Working for long stretches without breaks leads to stress and exhaustion”, so scheduling your productive time, in any capacity, is always important. Without a structure, you might feel like working can last all day uninterrupted. But with even the loosest designations, you can guarantee breaks within your day.
This might be the hardest thing to implement in quarantine. With movie nights and unlimited streaming, it’s hard to fight the urge to stay up binging a current docuseries. But there’s nothing that will throw your day off like getting little sleep and waking up at odd hours. As an avid sleeper and napper, this has been my key implementation for starting off my day right.
Experts agree that waking up and going to bed at the same time improves concentration and productivity. “When we don’t follow a regular sleep schedule, our melatonin production gets delayed”, which means struggling to fall asleep adequately and promptly.
Along the lines of my other suggestions, a routine is great to keep your mind and body connected. Give yourself the same bedtime every night to ensure you get the right amount of sleep for a normal work day. It’s one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves and a definite way to initiate an energetic start.
Gadgets, gizmos, phones, games, etc. can divert our focus when they adorn our work area. This definitely becomes a problem with the ever-distracting smartphone.
Being productive during the day means putting away the phone or moving physical disturbances. Our phones have such a potential for distraction, which makes it a necessary item to remove from your area. Decorating your workspace can be a positive thing, but allowing too many tangible distractions can deter you from focusing on finishing your assignments.
Clocking out, or leaving the office, is a physical release that lets us know our day has finished. The boundaries of work and relaxation get murky when your home becomes your only space for productivity. Frequently, we can stretch our hours in quarantine by the constant availability of our at-home workspace. But refusing to implement a rigid close to your day can be detrimental.
Setting an end time is a normal boundary for any occupation and should be introduced in your home. When there is the possibility of working at all hours, you might believe that productivity can be constantly occurring. With set rules, you’ll be able to “end at a reasonable time” and carry on with other necessary duties or relaxation.
No one deserves a laborious, unending work cycle and it definitely shouldn’t be appearing in our home life. With so much stress and anxiety around the pandemic, leaving assignments by a certain time is rewarding for our mental health and personal lives.
Working from home has its lengthy list of pros and cons. But with little adjustments, your remote environment can become a blossoming space for productivity.