The COVID-19 pandemic brought a wind of change as business industries were obliged to make the big shift to work from home. It can even be more challenging since everyone is confined to quarantine as an individual effort to minimize the contagion.
Despite the threat of cabin fever, this new work lifestyle has gained warm appreciation from transposed employees. As cited in a study by Apollo Technical (2021), remote workers feel happy by 22% compared to those who work in the real office. It is also said that these telecommuters experience less stress, more focus, and a better work-life balance. Similarly, Prodoscore (2021) also found an increased productivity rate in the remote workforce by 47% since March 2020.
The overall flexibility and autonomy are the key takeaways of the digital nomad lifestyle, however, being at home with your usual routine can make work become monotonous at times. Whether you are a fresh grad looking forward to a remote work opportunity or a full-time employee, here are a few ways to increase productivity in your home and virtual office:
1. Setup your workspace.
Your home office is definitely different from your regular office and this can dampen your motivation to function since your brain is accustomed to thinking that you should always be resting time at home. Before your motivation goes a downward spiral, set up your workspace. Ideally, you need to designate an area dedicated only to office work. Start by decluttering and keeping your chosen workspace free from distractions. It should not be in your bedroom. Invest in an ergonomic chair, a nice office table, and ensure bright lighting. A keen eye on shopping sales and discounted shipping offers might just come in handy. You may also want to play lo-fi music if you like the modern office lobby feels.
2. Demarcate boundaries.
Do work only within your self-prescribed work schedule and commit to it. Respect the time paid so you can also respect your time off work. Do not make the mistake of mixing house chores and job functions altogether — this only results in loss of momentum, motivation, and focus. Also, you will not identify whether you are overworking for the day or finished earlier than usual.
3. Work on your momentum.
Find when you are most active working and make that your schedule. There is usually a time in a day when you feel like your mind is at a heightened state, in Forbes this was cited as the “flow” where you are more receptive to do activities and more productive than any other time of the day.
4. Get some fresh air.
Take quick mental health breaks. A little coffee or tea break would help renew your energy level and ready you to continue a task with a fresher outlook. Take things lightly by making stretches, a little arm exercise, or simply breathing the fresh air from your garden would suffice.
5. Utilize Gmail tools.
Gmail tools can facilitate ease and accuracy in performing tasks. Send mass emails all at once via Streak. Checker Plus notifies you, reads your email for you to listen to and delete emails without it getting tagged as read or seen. These are only some of the Google Add-ons that may be particularly useful in doing your day-to-day jobs. Find or innovate ways that can help you trim work time so you can have more time for house chores or rest.
6. Accompany yourself with a pet.
Adopting a pet, may it be a dog or an aquarium fish, and interacting with it can help decrease your cortisol levels (stress hormones) and lower blood pressure according to News In Health (2018). Other studies also revealed that animals can reduce feelings of loneliness, increase social support and brighten your mood. Drop by your petshop over the weekend, not only are you doing good for your mental health but also on earth’s fauna.
7. Be keen on small details that can make big changes.
It is always about working efficiently and smoothly. Maybe organizing your browser’s bookmarks can save you more time on your next shift. Listing down a personal journal and a schedule can help you keep track of your activities and evaluate your progress and successes. Small things make it big.
8. Do your part earthwise.
Studies show that even three to five minutes of nature connection can reduce any forms of stress and therefore can significantly impact our emotions, reduce anger, fear and heighten positive vibes or pleasant feelings. When you are less stressed, you are more likely to perform with motivation and enthusiasm. This is why getting one with nature is beneficial. You can plant a tree in your backyard, grow an herb garden on your kitchen windowpane or simply water the plants. If you want to go the extra mile, practice sustainable living. This is a lifestyle that attempts to lessen, if not eliminate, one’s or the society’s use of earth’s natural resources. Check the nearest sustainable grocery store near you and explore ways how you can get rid of using plastic and other non-biodegradable and start recycling.
Aristotle once said that humans are social creatures and in many ways, we need to converse and socialize with each other. It always feels good when you speak with someone and know that you are listened to. It gives us a sense of relief or catharsis. This is why even if we are quarantined at home, it is highly important to find someone with who you can connect and communicate with. Whether which platform suits you best, phone call or video chat, practice open communication with your friends and family members. In this way, you will be able to drain off any strains of pain, frustration, question and bring yourself relief so you can stand up and feel renewed again.
10. Make a routine other than for work.
Even if you do not follow a rigid schedule, routines you commit to are helpful in unpredictable, uncertain, and stressful times. It might always be a word associated with work but routines should not always be that way since you need them at home too and for yourself. Establish routines that are beneficial to you — perhaps a workout routine, a daily morning meditation, or even the simplest skincare routine. Ensure that you can do your routines regularly and you will be surprised at how easy it is to make others. It will also be observed that you are more disciplined and productive throughout the day.
11. Seize the day.
There is a correlation between sleep and rest. Studies revealed that sleep deprivation hinders your concentration abilities and can decrease your overall work performance. Get quality sleep by analyzing your sleeping habits and practices. Maybe you need to change your interior design, linens, or just remove distractions for a state of tranquility. While you are at it, throw in some dehumidifiers or essential oil diffusers for aromatherapy. You can also play a mellow track to put you to sleep. Ensure that your resting space is conducive for sleep. The Harvard Medical School recommends keeping televisions and computers out of your bedroom so that the brain only associates your bedroom with sleep. Quality sleep is important to improve job performance at maximum efficiency and capacity.
All in all, any job whether done in the office or home setting can be taxing but with simple and carefully thought-out strategies and a determined mindset, you will be able to perform efficiently. Now pick them up and get things started.
About the Author:
Bash Sarmiento is a businessman, an educator and a writer from Manila. He is currently finishing his Doctor of Education degree in Miriam College. On the side, he writes laconic articles within the education, lifestyle and health realms. His academic background and experience in teaching, textbook evaluation, business management and traveling are translated into his works.