WFH has shifted from a novelty to the status quo, for those lucky enough to stay employed from a couch. We’ve put together some tips and tricks that may help you create new habits or reboot old ones.
For when you miss your morning commute…Fake it till you make it (again). Commuting into the office can help create a work-life boundary and prep you for the day ahead. The bedroom to living room commute? Not so much. So take a conmute, or con yourself into thinking you’re commuting. This can mean walking around the block listening to a podcast or a pump-up playlist.
For when you’ve gotten tired of your home “office”...Find a new home. If you can, set up in the room with the most natural light or multiple light sources. This helps ward off eye strain from blue light. It’ll help you sleep better too, since you’ll be living in sync with your circadian rhythm (aka natural sleep-wake cycle).
For when you feel overwhelmed…Lists, but make them exciting. Instead of a standard to-do list, make a D-List, divided into three sections: “Doing,” “Dealing,” and “Dreaming.” In the Doing section, write down the 1-3 work tasks that must get done that week. In the Dealing section, write down personal, household, or other tasks that should get done. And in the Dreaming section, write down something exciting or inspiring you’d like to dig into. This can be an article you’ve been meaning to read, a piece of art you want to look at more closely, or a (socially distanced) trip you want to plan. Or try making a “get-to-do” list. Instead of framing your tasks as chores, make them (or trick yourself into thinking they are) desires. Here's how it goes: Write sentences that begin with “I get to ____” instead of a laundry list of anxiety-inducing bullet points. Your stress levels will thank you, and sh*t will still get done. Promise.
Getting After It
For when your calendar is booking up…Block it off. If your work requires deep focus, you won’t be able to get that done with back-to-back Zoom meetings. Grab a few 1-3 hour blocks on your calendar every week and mark them off for deep focus work. Some people say that they do this work better in the AM, others prefer afternoon. Try both and see which works for you.
For when you zone out of virtual meetings (or virtually every meeting)…Close. Those. Tabs. It’s tempting to buy that shirt with “only one left in your size” mid-meeting, but this will end up wasting your time and everyone else’s. Grab a notebook (how vintage) and take notes by hand to resist the pull of the Interwebs.
For when you’re feeling Zoom fatigue…Try and pad your meetings with a 5-10 minute break in between to give your eyes and brain a rest. And opt to use a good ole audio call instead of Zoom when you can. It gives your eyes a break and lets you focus solely on listening, instead of how you look on video. We get it: The (eye) struggle is real.
For when you keep getting distracted…Break up with your distractions. If you keep opening new, shiny tabs (hint: researching anti-aging serums or pulling up menus from restaurants you miss), you might need to try an Internet blocker app like Freedom. If your distractions come from your SO or family, make it clear that you need dedicated space. Say something concrete like, “Can we block off 20 minutes together at 4pm to talk about this?” Then put it on your calendar. This might feel like you’re running your personal life like a business, but structure can help manage most aspects of life.
For when you need a break...Take one. Take many. There’s no hard and fast rule for how many breaks you should take per day, but Skimm HQ is partial to the post-lunch walk. Some HQ’rs also like the Pomodoro technique: 25-minute work intervals, each followed by a 5-minute break. After four 25-minute work blocks, take a longer 15-20 minute break. This helps create a sense of urgency while avoiding burnout.
For when your 9 to 5 becomes 9 to 7 or 8 or 9…Log off at the same time every day. This might seem unrealistic, but try it for a week. Since your D-List runs on a weekly cadence, you can tackle what’s leftover the next day. Saying “bye” to the remote office at the same time every day creates a renewed sense of separation so that work doesn’t permeate every aspect of your life.
For when you’re answering emails in bed…Keep bed a sacred space. No computers or phones allowed. This creates another barrier between work and life. Bonus: It’s more beneficial for sleep and mental health.
WFH can feel like a lawless land. Congrats, you’re now the mayor. Set the rules, create the habits, and productivity will have a better shot at falling in line.
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