With the vast majority of the population working from home at the moment, and many set to do so until Christmas, it is important to implement some structure in our day so that we can clearly separate work life from home life (even if they are, strangely, taking place in exactly the same space).
Check out these tips and tricks to help you switch off when work becomes home and home becomes work:
1. FREE YOURSELF FROM NOTIFICATION BURN OUT
Notifications can be handy but, increasingly, they can also be overwhelming. Disabling notifications disrupts the ‘always-on’ mindset that makes us feel as though we need to be constantly available and responsive to others. You can keep the most critical notifications enabled, if that makes you feel more comfortable – whether that be those from a specific person, a particular application or work project. You’ll feel calmer, less distracted and more able to focus.
2. EXPLORE AND EMBRACE FLEXIBILITY
As, for many of us, work and home lives have merged for the time being, it may suit you and your family to work different hours. Explore your options with your employer, to see if there is the flexibility to start earlier in order to finish earlier, if that is going to help your productivity.
3. LESS IS MORE & GUILT FREE EVENINGS
Various studies have shown the importance of taking small breaks during the day to improve productivity. But it is important to set clear boundaries and keep yourself accountable, so that a quick break doesn’t turn into an afternoon off. Set aside a specific amount of time for non-work activities such as reading the news, or looking at social media. When that time slot comes to an end, close any apps or browser windows so that you are not distracted or tempted to re-engage, and get back to work.
Henri Poincare, a French Mathematician, regularly worked from 10am-12noon and then again from 5pm – 7pm (a total of 4 hours). He had noticed that working longer never really resulted in getting more work done. So find your optimum number of productive hours and give yourself permission to work to it. This will in turn lead to guilt-free evenings where you can switch off fully and unwind.
4. VARY YOUR SCENERY
Sitting in the same place, looking at the same four walls can be a creativity and productivity killer. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try you just cannot focus. This common problem is exacerbated by the lockdown because our ability to change our surroundings is further limited. However, there are solutions. Psychologists have found that going outside can be the re-set your brain needs to get creative. So take a break in the garden if you have one, or go for a stroll around the block, before getting back on.
5. BE REALISTIC (DON'T SET YOURSELF UP TO FAIL)
With many juggling the demands of remote working, increased stress, difficulty sleeping, and – for many – childcare, productivity is taking a hit. But that’s ok. We need to be understanding of ourselves and others, and accept the limitations caused by pandemic. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, don’t overestimate what you’ll achieve, and don’t berate yourself if you don’t finish what you intended to. Instead, set clear boundaries for the time you’re prepared or able to dedicate to work, and celebrate what you do accomplish.
6. HAVE AN E-SPRING CLEAN
How many email promotions or newsletters do you receive a day? These messages flood our inbox and make it harder to see the important emails that we really need to read and action.
Opt-out of those you genuinely don’t read, and for those that you want to come back to at a later date, you can create filters and rules to re-direct these emails into a separate folder. This will streamline your inbox and make you more efficient and productive.
7. DO SOMETHING WHICH SIGNALS THE END OF THE WORK DAY
This can be anything; a run or walk, a shower, play-time with your dog or something creative. We usually have the journey home from work to put some separation and distance between our professional and personal lives. Now, for many of us, it’s just a case of walking from one room to another which can mean we take a lot of the work stress ‘home’ with us. So add something in between the daily grind and your evening off, to help you unwind and signal the separation clearly.
NB: This article is for information purposes, and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing difficulty sleeping, or have symptoms which prevent you from sleeping well, you should contact your medical practitioner.