Some of us dream of working from home, others not so much. Many of us are not naturally equipped with the skillset required to work independently and crave mental stimulation. While those of us with a job are grateful for being employed in the age of COVID-19, that doesn’t mean we know how to work from home.
Luckily for you, there’s a few simple mindfulness techniques designed to increase your productivity, mental clarity, help you avoid stress, and maintain a work life balance.
Stick To A Schedule
Many of us, including myself cannot stick to a schedule. I find great boredom in the mundane and require energy outside of myself to optimally operate. I need social interaction, unpredictability, and a challenge, otherwise my brain can’t be as optimal as I’d like it to be.
This is where a schedule comes in. It doesn’t have to be down to the hour, just a daily to do list. Before you finish a workday, write a list of what needs to be done the following day. When you wake up in the morning, you can plan your day around that. And create non-negotiable work breaks. You may discover morning meditation or having a cup of coffee outside helps you focus, make sure you don’t sacrifice that. If you feel itching to move around, go for a run or do yoga to knock out your midday blues. And if you have a job that chains you to a desk, work in your favorite snacks or podcast breaks.
Get Ready For Your Day
Let’s be honest, most of us haven’t worn jeans since COVID-19 Quarantines went into effect. Getting ready for your day doesn’t have to be dressing up or even rolling out of our PJs. While these may be useful techniques for some, for others it just reminds us how isolated we actually are from our normal environments.
But it is important during COVID quarentines and working from home to mentally prepare ourselves for a work or school day. Find what works for you, even if it’s not listed on articles like these. The point of these listed techniques is to energize you, so you can stay motivated throughout the day. It isn’t necessarily to help you adjust to life like this.
To get ready for your day, you may find waking up half an hour earlier to read a book helps mentally prepare you. Or listening to peptalks on Youtube or Podcasts while you make breakfast. Getting ready for your day is about doing what charges you up and honoring that, not getting emotionally ready to stare at a screen.
Figure Out What Works For You
Productivity changes as we go through our days, weeks, and quarantine or no quarantine. Being in quarantine hasn’t made you less productive, even if it feels like it. You’re simply off routine, which is perfectly fine. Now instead of doing a redundant routine that feels like clockwork, you can take time to figure out what sparks your passion, interests, and energizes you. Instead of trying to be “more productive”, in a global pandemic, focus on learning what excites you or how you can honor yourself to enjoy mornings a little bit more.
Use this time to make small changes and see the impact they play on your workday and overall life.
Wake Up Earlier
Most of us have been sleeping in until minutes before our Slack check-ins. That may be why you’re groggy. While it’s great to catch up on sleep, too much sleep can actually be counterproductive. We’ve all woken up before our alarm and felt refreshed but decided to go back to sleep because we had an extra hour. Only to find, we woke up cranky, feeling sick, groggy, and sometimes with a headache.
Why Do We Feel Worse After Sleeping In?
One common reason is we’re messing with our bodies sleep inertia. Our brains get confused because we messed up it’s circadian rhythm, resulting in brain fog. Another reason is when we sleep in, we’re actually waking up in the wrong REM stage. Our bodies go through various stages of REM throughout the night, which helps our body heal, boost our immune system, increase our cognitive function, and make sure you feel rested. When we sleep in, we feel disoriented because we woke up in the middle of a deep sleep stage, rather than the one designed to wake us up.
Designate a Workspace
It doesn’t need to be a seperate room or even have a desk. If you do your best work on your couch, work on your couch. But honor being in the place that you feel most productive. I don’t get my best work done at a desk, never did, even when I was working in an office building. My best work was always done outside, so I do most of my work outside. When I can’t be outside, I make sure I’m around plants and play nature sounds. I frequently take breaks to go outside.
Your workspace may not be ideal at a desk, even if that’s what you did at an office. Find what works for you and honor it in anyway that you can.
Avoid Cabin Fever
Mounting research shows that spending time in nature lowers stress, helps you relax and clears your mind. Go for walks around your neighborhood or local hiking trails. Do yoga or meditation outside, or simply get out and enjoy the animals in your backyard.
Start Your Morning With Gratitude
If you’ve been struggling with feeling positive lately, start your morning with affirmations or gratitude. Starting the day with gratitude is shown to increased happiness and productivity. Also when you see abundance in your life, you attract more of it. When we look for a red car, we see more red cars.
Your gratitude practice doesn’t need to be anything fancy. It can be as simple as writing down 5 things you’re grateful for on a sticky note attached to your desk every morning. Or listing a few things off as you wait for your coffee to brew. The biggest thing is that we just align with positive energy and make a habit of honoring it.
Your gratitudes can be as simple as a morning cup of coffee, or a text from a old friend, or a cozy bed. You can be grateful for anything, even the difficulties in your life, because they’ll bring you into your greatness (even if it doesn’t feel like it yet).
Working from home is hard, even if it’s something we’ve been doing for a while. Instead of being upset that you missed a deadline or you feel unproductive, be kind to yourself. Where do you need love and attention in this moment? Instead of beating yourself up because you slept in, honor that you felt tired and probably needed it.
We’re only trying our best. You may think you need to save the world and do everything, but all that is required from us is to exist. Your only job as a human being is to exist and experience life, everything else is aditional. Your biggest non-negotiable in life is to honor yourself, wounded parts and all.
We extend compassion to others easily. Our best friend made a mistake, we forgive them. Our children forget to do the dishes, we forgive them. We talk people back up when they feel down, offer love when they need it, and keep trying. But we don’t offer ourselves the same. We’re only human, no different than anyone else.
It’s easy to offer grace to people we love. While we need to extend grace to others, we also need to realize we’re someone worth loving too. You are only capable of trying your best with the mindset and tools you have. While we can always improve our mindsets (and should) with wellness practices, we cannot forget this is a practice.
The more you do it, the better you get and the easier it gets.