Social Isolation: 8 Tips on How to Work from Home and Stay SaneApril 29, 2020
The outburst of coronavirus has finally made the dream of going to work in your PJs come true. But as it often happens, social isolation turned out to be more difficult than it seemed. Constant distractions, sleep deprivation and lack of socializing with people of your age and interests make us think of the famous “be careful what you wish for”. To stay sane and not to start barking and biting, there should be a set of personal rules to follow.
Here are ones that help UIGiants team stay productive and focused.
Social situations we’re in often define what clothes we wear. Changing into something else than pajamas might seem unnecessary, but it will serve you as a mental switch you need and voila – work mode activated! Also, that won’t let you crawl back into bed whenever you feel like it, or at least will make it more complicated.
To make it work even better, keep following your normal morning rituals: get up, take a quick shower, brush your teeth, have a nice cup of coffee.This way you won’t feel torn from reality and your brain won’t have to deal with recreating your normal habits when the isolation is over.
Set a routine
Time can be both an enemy and an ally here. It feels so easy to just go with the flow – we can wake up whenever we want, lazily get up and open the laptop sipping coffee at noon. That is the temptation you might want to resist. To make time work for you, set time frames for every personal or business activity you have planned. If necessary, divide your day into three parts: work, personal activities, sleep. If you agree on a specific time for starting work, lunch break and logging out with your coworkers, it may give you a reminder that you still belong to the group, you’re not alone. And if we feel support, it’s easier to stay productive and not to give up on your plans for the day if you feel a little down.
Know when to call it a day
You basically live in your office now. Computer is in the next room, the phone is always at hand sending you notifications on every new email, so the temptation to just “get a quick work thing done” is almost overwhelming. But that most likely won’t be a single quick thing. Every simple task has a tail of related simple tasks that inevitably follow it.
Besides, trying to make it work swiftly makes the chance of missing some important detail higher, so you might have to start all over tomorrow. Better get to this next day when you’re full of energy again and ready to dedicate all necessary time and attention that task requires.
Scientists say that a human being’s ability to stay 100% focused on any intellectual activity is limited to 45 minutes. So it makes sense to take a 5-10 minute break every now and then just to loosen up the pressure. But there’s a trick here. If you just sit still in front of your laptop thinking about work tasks on your break, it won’t help. Try to do something different. Order food, do the dishes, load the washing machine, have a cup of tea. You can always call your parents or read an interesting article. Let your brain focus on something simple and pleasant for a while and your productivity will stay high.
Remember those seemingly meaningless chats in the office kitchen when suddenly someone says something that inspires you or gives you a cue on a solution to the problem you’ve been stuck on? That won’t ever happen to you at home unless you make it happen. You probably already have a work messenger so don’t hesitate to use it. Keep sharing thoughts with your colleagues, chat, tell people about your process. Otherwise, there is a chance your progress will remain unnoticed and your professional activity might look questionable.
If you’re not sure about showing someone unfinished work, just point out that it’s “the first draft” or “a sketch”. By setting these frames you’ll make people concentrate on your idea rather than mistakes. Besides, with some constructive criticism from your teammates you can create more iterations and make your idea work best.
Rethink the meetings
With all the freedom that has brightened up the working process now you might need to readjust to the concept of online meetings. At home you will most certainly face a lot of distractions – the internet is at your service, delicious snacks await in the fridge, your cute pet needs to play or maybe your little kids require attention. To help yourself stay focused let people around you know that you’re going to have a meeting at least 15 minutes in advance so they know you’re not to be disturbed until it’s over.
Try to steer clear of watching fun cat videos while your colleague speaks of something boring or irrelevant or you might lose track of the conversation. Conference calls make it more difficult to attract and hold everybody’s attention than it would be face to face, so take notes to be able to go back to the matter at hand and comment on it when everybody has spoken their minds. And be sure you’ve completed the call and turned off the microphone and camera before you share a private joke with your co-worker unless it’s intended to be heard by everyone.
Plan a reasonable amount of tasks you can complete in one day and remind yourself that only because now you have 24/7 access to your work laptop, you don’t have to become a superhero. To always stay on top of things, focus on one big project at a time. If you push yourself too hard it will only make you feel anxious and exhausted, and that might lead to a burnout.
Organize your workspace
It might seem like a cliche but it really works. Sitting in a nice comfortable chair with back support at the desk with good lighting and no distracting objects around might not only help you stay focused, but will also save you the trouble of visiting doctors with back pain or inflamed eyes.
Arrange a mini-atmosphere for yourself filled with things that inspire you or help you concentrate. Create an environment that mirrors your personality and surround yourself with things that inspire you. If you’re uncomfortable working in complete silence, you can download recorded office sounds and play it as a background. Or maybe you have an opposite problem and suffer from too much chatter around, in that case noise cancelling headphones will become a great solution.
These are the main steps our team follows to stay always productive and creative. We sincerely hope our tips will help you and your friends so that everyone would get out of social isolation mentally healthy and still employed. And if you get used to working from home too much to go back to the office – join UIGiants and start developing a remote career!