It’s not unheard of that your physical environment can influence your attitude towards some tasks. And as a result of the unexpected twists and turns of the Coronavirus outbreak still in effect today, most people are homebound 24/7.
Remote working and the trend of home offices has skyrocketed, and businesses are beginning to see this as the new norm. More remote jobs are surfacing every hour, and offices aren’t rushing the process of moving back into the building. As a direct result of this domino effect, people are realizing the downfalls of working from home and trying to improve this new lifestyle. One of the negatives of this process was the unhealthy merging of work-life and home-life.
There’s a reason that people have certain rules and principles when it comes to work-life balance. If they’re mixed, or if one is overpowered, both of them suffer. This happens more and more with this new lifestyle of constantly working and/or studying at home. There are certain reflexes built into us. Some movements, routines, certain actions have a sort of Pavlovian effect on our brain. For example, when you put on a suit and drink a coffee early in the morning, your brain switches to work mode. On the other hand, when you allow yourself to sleep in, cook a full breakfast, and write a list of chores, your brain switches to home mode.
The problem with working from home is the constant switching between work and home modes, which ultimately is counterproductive. Between work projects, you watch a 20 minute Friends episode, or you start vacuuming during your lunch break. This might seem like multitasking at its finest but actually doesn’t benefit your day at all. Stopping for chores during work projects means that you’re not able to focus as much on work, and you’re rushing the vacuuming as well. Neither of them is well done, or they take much more time to finish.
As a result of this constant frustration, a few people began optimizing their surroundings to inspire them to do focused, quality work. The first thing they did, it eliminates any distractions from the workspace. It doesn’t matter if this space is a different room, or just a corner with a desk and a laptop in the living room. The important thing is to eliminate all distractions, especially those that remind you of your home life. Video games, headphones, snacks, remote controls, all of these things, and more can be counterproductive for your work.
If you live with other people, it’s important to let them know about the new rules you are setting, so they can respect them also. This means telling them not to bother you with anything when you’re in your workplace, and not interfering with that space in any way. Just tell them to act like you’re physically gone to work each day when you’re sitting at your desk. You are not there.
Use a Timer
Another thing that people find helpful is setting a timer for focused working sessions throughout the day. Most people swear by 45 or 90-minute sections, spread throughout the day. These are most effective when placed in a time of day when you’re most productive. Some people are morning people, some do their best work in the evenings, and others are most motivated after a long lunch. It’s up to you how many times and when you do focused work. But these sessions have to be 100% focused. Phone on airplane mode, emails turned off, noise-canceling headphones on.
Use Your Breaks Wisely
Especially when working from home, breaks can be hard. Episodes slip in, chores emerge out of nowhere, errands need to be taken care of, and couches start looking extra cozy. These are all things that could negatively affect your workday, as the constant switching between your “two lives” can be very frustrating and confusing. Soon, you’ll be swallowed by that couch, surrounded by fluffy pillows, binge-watching a new Netflix show, and telling yourself you’ll finish your work in the evening – which never works out. To eliminate these temptations, most people have a lot of 10-15 minute breaks. These are just enough for a quick coffee, a chat, and a bathroom break, and you’re right back at your desk. Apart from this, people have one or two long breaks, usually one during lunchtime. For the maximum effect, the most disciplined people just keep every electronic device turned off, and have a quiet lunch by themselves. But those who don’t fully trust themselves just leave the house completely. Go for a run, a jog, grab a quick lunch, a coffee, a breath of fresh air. But after that 30 minutes to 1 hour, you have to get straight back to the desk.
Balancing your work life and your home life is hard enough. Now that people are doing both in the same space, it’s becoming even harder. There’s no need to dress up, shows are running in the background, one-hour coffee breaks slip in here and there. But in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, in the long run, you need to consciously take control of your life, and separate these two aspects of your life for good. These tips and more are here to help you, and by the end, you’ll realize that work gets done faster, its quality is higher, and your home life becomes much more balanced and rewarding.