Five habits that will boost your productivity when working from home in lockdown
The global coronavirus pandemic has meant that many of us – those of us who are able to, at least – are now working from home.
For some of us, this may be no change; you might be used to running your business or freelancing from your kitchen table. But for many people, this may the first time they’ve worked from home for any length of time. And it can take a bit of getting used to.
In particular, our productivity can take a real hit. Not only are we dealing with the emotional effects of living through a global pandemic, but we’re also having to readjust to working in our home environment – and without the structure of an office day, this can be tough.
With that in mind, here are five healthy habits that can improve your productivity while you’re working from home.
1) Stick to your normal routine
It can be tempting to work from bed or your sofa and lounge around in your joggers or pyjamas. And this might be fun for a bit but, in the long run, it’s going to be detrimental to both your mental health and your productivity.
You’ll struggle to differentiate between your working hours and downtime, which means you won’t be able to concentrate on the tasks you need to complete. And on the flip side of the coin, you’ll probably find yourself working later to finish things off or checking your emails in bed. We don’t need to tell you that this isn’t healthy.
One of the best ways to ensure you stay motivated and productive now that you’re working from home is to stick to your normal routine. That means getting up at a reasonable time in the morning, having a shower, and getting ready for the working day – mentally and physically.
In fact, the ‘mental’ follows the ‘physical’; getting out of bed, changing from your pyjamas into normal clothes, and sitting at a table to work (your new ‘desk’) signifies the break between your home life and your work life.
This should help your brain to switch into work mode and help you to feel more productive and motivated during work hours.
2) Eat well
Eating well isn’t a healthy habit that we often associate with improved productivity, but it really can make a big difference in how you work.
Eating lots of carby, fatty foods during the day will make you feel sluggish and slow – hitting your productivity levels.
The same goes for sugary snacks. At first you’ll get a sugar rush and a quick burst of energy, but this will be shortly followed by a crash. And not only do sugar crashes make you feel wobbly and low in energy, as this Sandford Health article details, but they can also cause headaches and problems with concentration – not what you need if you want to be productive.
Keeping a stash of healthy desk snacks nearby, such as fruit, nuts, carrot sticks, will stave off hunger and stop you from reaching for the junk food. These kind of nutritious snacks will also give you a slow release of energy throughout the day so that you can work to the best of your ability.
3) Factor in your mental health and wellbeing
Healthy habits aren’t just about maintaining your physical fitness. Factoring in your mental health and wellbeing helps to improve your productivity too (as well as being an important thing to do anyway).
What we’re experiencing at the moment is incredibly unusual and stressful. Not only are we shifting to working from home in isolation instead of commuting to our normal jobs and getting regular social interaction, but we’re also trying to subdue a constant state of anxiety as we wait for daily news updates.
It’s important to dedicate some time and effort to your mental health. There are a few ways you can do this, but cultivating healthy wellbeing habits will help to relieve stress when everything feels overwhelming.
For example, there are self-soothing exercises and activities that you can incorporate into your life. These will depend on what you enjoy. If you love baking or cooking in the kitchen and it makes you feel calmer, then dedicate some time in your schedule to bake. Likewise, if you love doing something arty or crafty like painting or drawing, then spend time doing this.
If you’re struggling to manage your mental health and happiness on your own, then it might be time to ask for some help. Speak to your doctor to see what they would recommend – they may suggest therapy or a mental health program.
Want more advice to help with your mental health during lockdown? You can read 12 things you can do to help you feel better in lockdown here.
4) Add exercise to your day
We know that incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine has many huge benefits for both your physical health and mental health. But did you know that one of these benefits is increased productivity?
According to Livestrong, exercise works to improve your productivity in a number of ways. For a start, scheduling a workout or jog into your day, either before work or during your lunch break, can get the blood pumping around your body and make you feel more energised. By increasing blood flow to your brain, your cognitive abilities are boosted.
The increase in energy levels from exercise also improves your productivity levels because it helps you feel more alert at work and less distracted.
One final – and great – reason: exercise improves your mental health. Regular exercise releases serotonin and endorphins (feel-good chemicals) in your brain, which help to reduce stress, regulate your mood and boost your happiness levels.
This helps you deal with stress and difficulties in work more constructively, as well as tackle your workload in a more positive frame of mind.
5) Take regular breaks – away from your desk!
The majority of us struggle to work for multiple hours straight. If you’re someone who can, that’s fantastic and we salute you.
However, most people tend to find that productivity declines over time if you don’t take regular breaks throughout your working day. They don’t have to be long breaks — five or ten minutes will do — but it’s important to give your brain a rest from work every hour or two to refresh and recuperate.
You can take some time to read or scroll on your phone, but stepping away from your desk and getting your eyes off a screen is better. Go and make yourself a cup of tea and sit by the window while you sip it; walk around the garden or sit outside if the weather’s nice. When you sit back down to work, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go again.
The same goes for your lunch break; make sure you don’t eat lunch at the computer, and instead give yourself time to eat properly and really focus on enjoying your lunch.
Pencil in longer lunch breaks to go for a walk outside; get some oxygen from the fresh air and natural vitamin D from the sunshine in your body to boost your mood and make you feel energised.
Being productive may not feel easy – but it IS doable
Being productive during this difficult time might not seem like the easiest thing in the world, but it is doable. Looking after both your physical and mental health won’t just keep you happy and healthy – it will also ensure that you’re as focused and productive with your work as possible.
These five healthy habits can improve your productivity while you’re working from home; incorporate them into your day-to-day life and you’ll soon feel the positive effects.
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