Productivity From Home
Structural habits can improve your productivity when working from home.
When COVID-19 hit the Netherlands, we all got the message to work from home for the foreseeable future. Naturally, everyone naively thought this was just going to last a month.
Luckily, we're long since past the extreme lockdowns in the Netherlands. Most people will have set up a proper workspace at home, and their employers may have provided them with the peripherals so they won't have to bend over their laptop anymore. But we still have to find a proper work/life balance in our homes. This goes beyond just your workspace, but all of the daily routine.
The YouTube video Lockdown Productivity: Spaceship You by CGP Grey has been a great inspiration for me these past 2 years. While that is focused on the full lockdown situation, its points are valid regardless of the situation.
Stand up; Take a walk
As IT people we're sitting at our desk all day, and the trip to the office is only a few meters from your bed. We'll spend the day without fresh air before you know it. It's important to get some simple movement and fresh air once in a while. It doesn't matter if it's just 10 minutes around the block.
Not only does it provide health benefits, it will also give your thoughts some time to process. So if you ever get stuck at a problem, just take a walking break and you'll come back with a pair of eyes. This tip is not just for working from home, you can easily do this at office as well.
Lunchtime is your time
Simply put, don't lunch at your desk. Not only will this prevent getting crumbs in your MacBook's, fragile, butterfly keyboard. But it will make sure you actually have a lunch "break", as it's supposed to be a break from work.
If the weather is nice you can combine your lunch with the walk we mentioned previously. Maybe there's a park nearby to have your lunch. You could also meet up with someone else to have some human interaction.
While walking is a nice break from work, it's not enough to keep you in shape. Fortunately, you don't need much to exercise. You can go for a jog, bike ride, or do a bodyweight workout in the living room. All that matters is that you do something to keep the body moving. It will help you physically and mentally.
Working from home means you can plan your workout any time during day, depending on your meeting schedule. Since you no longer have a commute you can spend that time on an exercise before you start, or at the end of the day. My personal favorite is the pre-lunch workout.
Zoning your environment
Every thing you do has its own "category", and you subconsciously zone these areas where you perform them. The most important ones for me are:
- Creation (work, hobbies)
It's important to keep these areas of your life separate as much as possible. Don't worry, you can create zones inside a studio apartment. You can find plenty of room dividers at IKEA or other furniture stores. While it won't create a room, it will separate area's within the room.
Let's go over each zone.
The bedroom is a sacred place, one that shouldn't be associated with anything else. Working, eating, gaming, or watching TV from bed will turn your bedroom into a living room for your subconscious. Best to just get up and close the door for the rest of the day.
Most people will have the couch as their relaxation station. This is where the TV and most entertainment devices will be located. Try to go here when you actually want to relax.
Creation is anything that can be considered productive, hobbies or work. This will be something different to everyone, as as the location. Some people like baking, and will be in the kitchen. Others will be woodworking in the shed. For me, it's playing PC games and writing music.
Some forms of creation, like mine, will be performed at the same desk. This means you'll work where you spend your hobbies. To make this crossover as smooth as possible I recommend having a transitional activity. For example, a natural transition between work and gaming will be your dinner. But it could be anything, as long as you leave the creation area for a while before you do something else.
I hope this post can help anyone who's still struggling to work from home. And remember, a relaxed mind is an efficient one.
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