A few weeks ago most of us probably yearned for that extra day off, long holiday weekend or opportunity to work from home. After consecutive days of the routine office grind, such a change-up can feel refreshing and even garner extra work productivity (escaping your office cubicle and typical social distractions for a day). Yet as our world has changed overnight by COVID-19, we are all temporarily confined to our homes and succumbing to a new reality. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have the ability to work from home are trying to adapt to this new remote existence while attempting to stay productive and focused. Maybe you are also trying to figure out what next steps to take to secure more income and learn new skills as we enter this unknown territory. 

For the first time, we are experiencing simultaneous challenges from balancing family and work, financial uncertainty, lack of mobility and struggling to keep on track with our fitness and nutritional goals, all the while feeling socially isolated, anxious and stressed. We want you to know that you’re not alone in feeling these pressures and while these challenges are valid and real, we are here to help you feel connected on each level so that you can get through this rough patch as smoothly as possible. We’ve got some powerful tips to increase your productivity at home and help you feel more empowered, focused and motivated right now so that you can still crush your goals. Read on!

Act As If You Are Going Into the Office

The mind-body connection is powerful so let’s play with that. The mental association between work and the office is linked to heightened productivity and should still be embraced when telecommuting. It’s all too easy to fall prey to the lax home atmosphere especially when you are surrounded by the comforts of your home such as your bed, couch, TV, etc. To combat this, do all the things you’d do to prepare for a day at the office: set your alarm for your usual wake up time, make coffee and get dressed, wearing nice clothes (not sweatpants or pajamas!) so you feel like you are professionally starting your day. Go the extra mile to put yourself in that mindset, especially now: put on some makeup, wear the bracelet or watch you usually wear to the office, style your hair as usual, etc.  

Start Your Day Early

A typical workday consists of you commuting to the office, allowing you to get in the motion of waking up and mentally preparing yourself for the day. Now that you’ve scraped the commute, you have some extra time on your hands. Use it! We don’t mean taking a leisurely breakfast. Now you can get started on your to-do list first thing in the morning when it’s quiet and tackle some pending projects with a fresh alert mind. You’ll be amazed at how much more productive you’ll be by starting early and will beat the otherwise gradual sluggishness that can take over throughout the day killing your motivation.

Structure Your Day By Creating a Schedule 

When working from home you no longer have the typical office structure that provides the day to day interactions and face to face meetings that drive productivity and time management. Therefore you must become your own personal manager. To stay on track, create a schedule so you can segment your time effectively over the course of the day. Start by creating a to-do list of the priorities for that day and then allocate your time accordingly. If you have an online calendar, such as Google Calendar, you can create personal events and reminders that notify you when to shift gears and start on new tasks. It’s an easy way to improve your efficiency and productivity while helping you feel grounded at the same time. 

Choose a Designated Workspace 

One of the biggest challenges working remotely poses is the absence of a true office environment. Without your typical work desk, you may find yourself planted on your bed or couch all day slouched over your laptop. As we know, from Dr. Gregory Shure’s post, ergonomics directly impacts our health and overall productivity, and this type of setup is not conducive to effective work gains or cognitive stimulation. Rather, napping and snacking are more likely on the agenda. Instead, dedicate a specific room or surface in your home to work, one that allows for proper posture and one that you can differentiate between work and home life. Even if it’s just a desk and chair that you only use for working hours. Create that mental separation. 

Hide Social Media and Turn Off Notifications

When working from home you may be more tempted to browse social media and are more likely to be looking at your phone or at notifications since you’re missing the usual social connection of an office setting. As we all know, scrolling through posts can become a black hole of distraction and kill productivity, especially now more than ever with everyone talking about the latest developments in the coronavirus. To counteract this distraction (and maintain your calm state of mind) try logging out of every social media account during working hours and remove them from your browser as well. If your phone is near you, log out or turn notifications off. Or put your phone in another room for the time being. You can even work in private mode and use an “Incognito” window to ensure you’re not auto-directed to any of your personal accounts via auto typing, etc. This way when you have an actual work break, you can choose to peruse the news.

Time Tasks Around Your Productivity

We all have periods during the day in which we are most productive. Maybe you’re a morning person who thinks the most clearly then or maybe your creative juices come alive in the afternoon or evening. While there is a natural ebb and flow to our daily productivity, try capitalizing on knowing what these times are for you so you can make the most of your day. This way you can designate your more challenging tasks for when you know you will be in the right headspace for them and can use the slower points of the day to knock out the easier, logistical tasks that are also on your plate. Maybe this means you save phone calls, meetings and other collaborative work for the afternoon when you’ve officially woken up and can utilize your quiet morning time for quiet brainstorming and individual work.

Plan Ahead

Don’t waste quality time during the workday trying to figure out what you want to accomplish. That’s precious time you can commit to following through on tasks. Maximize your productivity by creating and solidifying a solid agenda the day before so when you wake up you officially feel ready to get to work and will be more likely to stick to the schedule at hand. Similarly, don’t use precious minutes making your food the day of work, cook it the night before. Preparing food ahead of time ensures you can actually use your meal times to eat, and can better spend that energy used at your desk.

Use Technology To Connect

The major pitfall of working from home is that it can make you feel cut off from the rest of your team and office. No doubt about it, it can be lonely and isolating. Take advantage of the incredible technology that’s at your fingertips including instant messaging and videoconferencing tools which make it easy to check in with coworkers, brainstorm strategies to crush team goals and remind you how your work is contributing to the big picture.

Listen To Music

Music is healing and now more than ever, it can help you tune in to a place of peace and calm. Experiment with listening to music genres that match the task at hand. For example, ambient, classical music can help stimulate creativity and upbeat music can speed up productivity for more technical tasks. During this time you can have fun with creating custom playlists that jive with your personal taste and help you tackle your work agenda. 

Take Real Breaks

Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to take a real break! In fact many telecommuters find themselves sitting for hours at a time glued to their computer screens without moving. Even in an office setting, you take time to grab lunch, take a coffee break, etc. Rather than just resorting to YouTube and watching some mindless videos or scrolling through social media posts, use your breaks to get away from your desk and unplug. If you are able, go for a walk outside in nature, sit in the sun, play with your pet or spend time with others who might also be in the house. 

Take A Virtual Break

Similarly, there are other ways to “escape” right now no matter where you are. Fitspot’s virtual game is strong and we are proud to partner with virtual technology apps that can offer you some much-needed comfort during this difficult time. We’ve got you covered in all areas from fitness, health, nutrition, stress management, and even financial management. Here are a few to try!

Sworkit – Sworkit features online workout videos that make it easy for you to work out, any time, anywhere, in as little as five minutes. You’ll have access to hundreds of pre-defined workout videos and workout plans, so you can customize according to preference. Simply, choose what kind of workout you want and the amount of time. Then Sworkit provides a full fitness routine.

Whil – Whil is a digital platform that provides goal-based resilience training to help you feel happier, calmer and more mindful. The platform allows you to pick guided meditations based on mood, length of session, and the meditation expert.

FitSnap – FitSnap is an online HRA (health risk assessment) that captures your lifestyle health through proprietary technology including a questionnaire and physical measurements. You’ll instantly receive a tangible lifestyle report highlighting risks, personalized exercise and nutrition recommendations.

Enrich – Enrich creates workplace financial wellness programs tailored to your needs. Enrich is dedicated to improving financial capability and empowers you to make effective decisions about personal finance, student loans, budgets, mortgages, and more. Video-based and interactive courses are led by financial experts and include how to understand taxes, how to use a 401K, what to do with student loans, how to save money, and more. 

Set Expectations and Boundaries with Family Members

We all love our families but working in close quarters with them day in and day out can prove to be challenging and a fine-tuned balancing act at best. We’ve all been there. To establish some boundaries make sure any roommates, siblings, parents, spouses, and children (if possible) respect your time and space during work hours. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re on home time and readily available.   

Stick To An End Time

While working from home promotes more flexibility and a more relaxed setting, don’t be fooled into thinking this necessarily equates to a greater work-life balance. Without the structure of arriving at and leaving an office, you can easily lose track of time and work longer hours. To establish a healthy schedule, decide on an attainable finishing time each day, and then set an alarm for that time. You don’t have to necessarily stop at exactly that time but it does help you habituate the process of knowing the workday is technically over so you can begin to wrap up, set the agenda for the next day and call it quits for the evening. 

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