As the coronavirus spreads, the message from authorities and Twitter alike is clear — stay home. That means that many of us who are lucky enough to have jobs where we can do so are clacking away at our laptops or video conferencing with our colleagues from the comfort of our couches. Sofa so good but how do you work from home without watching endless TV or playing with your pet or worse, never switching off? We are having some tips on how to be productive at home without getting stir crazy.
Be clear about what your office hours are
For some, the advantage of working from home is complete and utter flexibility. But if you’re someone who needs structure to ensure you don’t just binge-watch TV and eat junk food all day, then figuring out what hours are for work may be helpful. This means not disrupting your daily routine as much as possible, and putting work away around the time you ordinarily would. If you’re living with a partner who’s also working from home, this can help you both get things done rather than distract each other with cat videos.
Tip: Keep your partner/ co-worker informed of your work schedule — video conference time, deadlines and downtime — so that he or she can give you the privacy you need to be productive.
Set up a work space
Setting up a little corner for work in your home helps you get in the right headspace for getting things done. Get a good, comfortable chair to not get aches and pains, and get right to it.
Tip: Want to look good on FaceTime? There should be no bright light to your side or behind you. And don’t get too close to the webcam. No one wants to see your boogers.
PJs or no PJs? That is the question
Work from home pros says one should get dressed and ready as if one was going to the office. This means not wearing ratty old PJs or lounging around in your banians. The advantages of this are clear — it’s an easy demarcation between work and non-work time, plus you don’t have to be appalled every time you cross the mirror. On the other hand, there is satisfaction in working in Ghar-ke-kapde. The happy middle ground — put on a decent top but stick with the PJs or tracks since only your upper half will be visible. Also, make sure you know what your bosses and co-workers can see when you’re on video. The last thing you want is your pantslessness to be office gossip fodder in these boring times.
Tip: For those of us working vertically aka lying in bed, you can blur your background on Skype and Microsoft Teams and get a virtual one on Zoom. You can also use an AI filter like Krisp to eliminate background noise.
If you have children (or dog children), do your best to set boundaries with them and explain that while you are home, you will have to work. It’s also advisable to let your bosses know how much you will be able to get done.
Tip: Have a self-engaging activity for kids planned when you have an important virtual meeting.
Distractions, distractions… deal with the
It’s impossible to not be distracted by things when you’re working from home, and to a certain degree, that is to be expected. What you can do is invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones that can serve as blinders to everything else waiting for you (Netflix, food that’s bad for you, loneliness etc)
Tip: Stay focused. Zoom also has a feature called attention tracking, which tells the meeting host if a participant doesn’t have the meeting window in focus for more than 30 seconds. Oops!
The Covid-19 disease is bad enough, but experts are also worried about the long-term impact that fear and anxiety triggered by the crisis can have on people. Social distancing, which PM Narendra Modi urged all Indians to practise in the coming days, is a good strategy to check its spread but humans are social animals, and consciously avoiding the company of others is not something people generally are used to. However, there are strategies for staying mindful and observant that can help us beat the stress and prevent it from affecting our mood.
You don’t have the disease, but you know it’s taking a toll if you…
- Find yourself worrying a lot about health and well-being and that of your loved ones
- Notice a sudden change in your sleeping and/or eating patterns
- Have difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Suffer a worsening of chronic health problems
- Are consuming more alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs than you otherwise
It can feel strange. You can try…
- Taking a break from reading and following all the coronavirus stories on TV, in newspapers and on social media. Constant exposure to talk about a disease outbreak or pandemic can be upsetting
- Taking care of your body. This involves taking deep breaths, stretching, or meditating
- Eating healthy, well-balanced meals. Exercising regularly and getting plenty of sleep will help
- Avoiding alcohol or drug binge is useful, too.
- Making time to unwind. Remember, when beating the disease is a full-time preoccupation then a little distraction is important. Try to engage in activities you enjoy.
- Connecting with others. You may not be physically meeting them but use social media to hang out. There are chat, video calls and the good old phone call to bring you closer to people with whom you can also share your concern.
Don’t forget the epidemic, but avoid an ‘infodemic
- Sharing facts about Covid-19 and understanding the actual risks to yourself and near-and-dear ones will show you that the outbreak is much less stressful than it seems
- Sharing accurate facts also has the effect of soothing the anxieties of people around you, which in turn will help you stay calm
They need to be watchful against getting bogged down
- Older people and those with chronic diseases are deemed to be at higher risk
- Children and teenagers
- Those who are helping in the response against Covid-19, such as doctors and healthcare workers
- People who have mental health conditions, including problems with substance use
(With inputs from timesofindia)