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Forced to Work From Home

As the pandemic forces many employees to work from home you may be struggling with your own motivation, productivity & how to cultivate calm in the chaos. Fear not. That's normal.

I’ve worked from home for the past 6-plus years & I want to share some of my observations and tips. More specifically, I want to build off of some of the advice Mario Fraioli recently shared that can boost your output and enhance your mindset.

1. You can be woke without waking to the news.

We are in the midst of extremely uncertain times and it is imperative to stay informed as COVID-19 news evolves. But, there’s almost nothing in the news that any of us need to read in the first 30’ of the day. There's a good chance you checked the news before you fell asleep, so resist the urge. When you reach for your phone or your laptop upon waking, you’re immediately inviting anxiety and chaos into your life. You’re also bidding adieu to some of the most potentially fertile moments in the life of a creative person.

2. Get dressed.

While the thought of working in your pajamas all day sounds wonderful, I’ve found that getting dressed as if I were going into the office helps shift my mindset into work mode and doesn’t leave me feeling like I should be lounging around the house all day.

3. Establish a workstation.

Much like getting dressed can put you in work mode, having a designated workstation can help minimize distractions and keep you focused on what you need to do. Avoid sitting at the kitchen table or on the couch with your laptop if you can help it. That is where you eat and relax. It shouldn’t be where you work.

4. Do not disturb.

Use the “Do not disturb” function or airplane mode on your phone to improve productivity by eliminating distractions. It can also be a great way to quiet your mind and connect with yourself.

5. Set a schedule and stick to it.

Make a list of things you need to get accomplish to ease nerves. Know when your day is going to start, when you will break for lunch, and when it will end. Otherwise, it can be really easy to want to work at random hours, skip lunch, finish up work after dinner because you didn’t manage your time well, etc. There’s literally nowhere else to go, and not much else to do, so set your hours and stick to them!

6. Move!

Walking is good for physical, spiritual, and mental health. No matter what time you get out of bed, go for a walk. Demons hate fresh air. Sport has the power to keep us happy and training is a part of your health and well being. Set a timer and get up from your desk every 60 minutes to get outside and walk around the block, stretch in your living room, knock out some pushups, whatever you need to do to get yourself out from in front of your computer screen for 5-10 minutes at a time.

7. Phone a friend or family member.

The freedom and flexibility of working from home is great but it can also be isolating if you’re not careful. Pick up the phone to check in on your colleagues, FaceTime your friends at lunch, and make sure you stay connected with family while you’re isolated at home.

8. When in doubt, tidy up.

The best thing about tidying is that it busies my hands and loosens up my mind so that I either a) get unstuck or solve a new problem in my head, or b) come across something in the mess that leads to new work.

9. Power nap.

Twenty minutes is the sweet spot for nap length if you want to wake up feeling alert, cheerful, and productive. Unlike at night when the goal is long stretches of continuous sleep that will give you the restorative benefits of deep REM sleep, keeping naps to lighter, non-REM sleep will help ensure that you wake up bright-eyed.

10. Finish each day and be done with it.

“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it well and serenely, and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

This disruption in our scheduled routines provides an opportunity to reflect and develop a broader perspective. Is this happening to us or is it happening for us? During these times of distress, the wisest thing to do is to tap into the love and connection that lies on the other side of the sadness and fear.


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