Working from home has benefits and drawbacks at the best of times. But during this COVID-era, the challenges have compounded.
There's a weight and worry on our collective shoulders, making it harder to structure schedules and manage our workload. And let's not forget the others at home with you, kids and spouse, increasing the distraction quotient like never before.
But there are methods to organise your day and be productive, even amidst a quarantine lockdown.
As a matter of fact, never before has structure mattered more. We need structure for our own mental health and sanity. Without it, we’re left spinning our wheels and feeling defeated.
So, here are 5 essentials habits to focus and thrive while working from home:
Create and maintain your DMO (daily method of operation). Your DMO is your daily, non-negotiable actions. It’s your foundation and what you do every day to be focused and effective. For example, a typical morning DMO might include 30 minutes of exercise, sitting in meditation for 15 minutes, writing your morning gratitude, and drinking a glass of lemon water. These are your non-negotiables since you know they give you ongoing energy and mental clarity throughout the day.
Keep in mind that everyone's DMO will be different, especially now, with so much change and disruption. Through trial and error, you'll discover which non-negotiables feel right you. But once put in place, consider them your personal commandments, and your foundation to ensure progress, productivity, and flow.
And if you’re feeling out-of-sorts or unproductive, your DMO is there to get you back on track so you can focus and thrive.
Be a new kind of CEO. As the chief emotional officer of your home workspace, it’s your job to set the tone and mood of your work environment. This is a time of heightened stress and anxiety for many reasons and so it’s essential that we manage our emotions. The emotional mood you create goes a long way to help you maintain your optimum level of productivity and focus.
How do you improve the mood of your work environment? By managing your emotions you can keep your home sane, well-ordered, and calm — while injecting some fun.
With kids indoors, that can be near impossible, but you don't need to create the perfect environment, just one that's more conducive to a better flow. This might mean a clean-up session of your workspace every morning. Or calm, unobtrusive music in the background. And fresh air breaks and exercise throughout the day.
The traits of a successful CEO (chief emotional officer):
Practice self-care (no, it's not just for yogis).
Self-care is more than some New Age concept. Self-care encompasses the basics, like being well-nourished, well-slept, and connected to the ones we love. A daily multivitamin for the soul, if you will.
In this COVID era, "me time" is a critical component when it comes to productivity, resilience, and resourcefulness. Without it, life can become a slippery slope of mental duress and chronic illness. (And, no one is productive under those circumstances.)
Again, only you can create your self-care list. But make sure the basics (sleep, nutrition, exercise, and connectivity) are addressed.
And don't forget to show your family, colleagues, and team that self-care matters. Be the rock that creates a positive ripple effect. So you can all thrive together.
Simple Self-care Tip: Stop what you're doing throughout the day to focus on deep, diaphragmatic (belly) breathing or alternate nostril breathing for one minute. Note how much calmer and grounded you feel, even after a short period of time.
Limit screen time (aka seriously, get off your device!)
Imagine an alarm clock that goes off dozens of times throughout the day, forcing you to stop what you're doing and address it? Doesn't it sound like a crazy-making scenario? Yet we've all signed up to this kind of constant distraction, deeming it a necessary evil.
Higher stress levels were found in those excessively connected to their devices, as well as increased depression and loneliness. And while many of us know these negative effects, we do little about it.
It is up to us to create boundaries with our devices. The phone won't do it for you!
Tips for limiting cell phone use:
Take "real life" breaks. This includes going for a walk, exercise, playing with your kids or pets, time in your garden, playing board games or cards. Remind yourself on a daily basis: you do have a life without your phone.
Get an app for that. Yes, there's an app to stop you from using so many apps. As a matter of fact, there are many apps that encourage boundaries and help us stay focused. Try one out.
Get help. Cell phone addiction is real. You might need to get some professional help. But to break the addiction, you first need to acknowledge it. Being inside so much can increase more dependency on devices so be mindful for yourself and those around you.
Go old school and write it out.
Remember handwriting and how well it's served you pre-cell phone era?
According to a study performed at Indiana University, handwriting increases neural activity in certain sections of the brain, similar to meditation. The simple act of putting pen to paper unleashes creativity and therefore intuition not easily accessed in any other way.
Research shows that journaling, in particular, offers a range of benefits including less stress and anxiety. When it comes to productivity, journaling engages both sides of your brain for optimal problem-solving.
Self-care Tip: Journaling for 20 minutes a day removes mental blocks, reduces stress, and increases problem-solving abilities. Choose a specialized journal that fosters creativity and supports productivity.
We hope these five habits inspire you during this challenging period. It's hard, no doubt. Never before have we faced these kinds of challenges. So stay flexible but keep structure in place, for your mental and physical wellbeing as well as your overall productivity.