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Work in the time of COVID-19: How to effectively work from home

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With more cases of COVID-19 being confirmed every day, businesses and organizations in the National Capital Region and the entire Luzon island are implementing remote work or work from home to help contain the spread of the virus.

While working from home sounds like a dream come true, people who regularly work from home will tell you that it’s easier said than done. For one thing, it requires a lot of discipline.

How do you make sure you continue to be productive despite all the distractions at home? Here are 8 tips on how to effectively work from home:

1. Don’t work on your bed

When you think of other people working from home, you probably imagine them on their beds with their laptops and a tray or two of food and drinks on the side.

Don’t do this. Working on your bed sends mixed signals to your brain. The bed is a place of rest and relaxation. Feeling the soft cushion of your mattress might make your brain think you’re going to sleep, which could then make you feel sleepy.

Inversely, the bed and by extension your bedroom should be just a place for sleep. It’s not a place for work and keeping this so would guarantee you decent sleep and rest after work.

2. Set up a work area at home

Dedicate a space in your home for working so you can get into the right headspace. This doesn’t have to be a home office as seen on TVs or movies. It can be a spot at home where you can have some peace and quiet to be able to concentrate on your tasks. Separating home areas from your work area will also enable you to condition yourself for work.

Keep this space tidy so you can continue to be productive. Of course, it will be a good idea to find a spot where your internet connection is faster and stable and where you can work for hours without risking an aching back.

3. Establish a routine and stick to it

One thing that can help remind you that you’re supposed to be working is sticking with a routine. You can continue with the same routine as if you’re going to the office, except you can have a few more hours of sleep because you won’t have to commute to work.

Get up at a specific time, take a shower, have some morning coffee – all these will program your brain into thinking that you’re getting ready for work. Change into a fresh set of clothes while you’re at it!

If you’re a team lead, it might be more efficient to set the time for regular online meetings. If necessary, establish guidelines for logging in and logging out to monitor team members.

4. Create a to-do list

Condition your mind for the work you’re about to do by creating a to-do list. This is a great way to exercise your brain before actually diving into the tasks.

Working from home will expose you to a lot of distractions, so having a list will help you stay focused. It can also help you prioritize which tasks to do first and which you can leave for later.

5. Take breaks but manage them

Working from home gives you more control over your time. But it can also mean possibly forgetting to take breaks, which may lead to burnout and loss of productivity.

Take breaks as you would in the office. When lunch time comes around, step away from your workspace and eat – don’t have a working lunch! – so your mind can rest. When you’re in a slump, stand up, stretch and walk around to help your mind recover.

But do be mindful of the breaks and resume work when you have to. You still have your deadlines after all. It can be tempting to extend breaks because let’s face it, there’s no boss or colleague to notice, but disciplining yourself will help you focus and deliver on your tasks.

6. Keep in touch with your coworkers

If you’re going to be working from home for a long time, you might start to feel a little lonely. When you’re used to working in an office setting, those little moments where you can talk to your coworkers serve as the breathers in between your busy schedules. It’s important then that you stay in the touch with the people you work with. This helps boost morale and keeps you connected. Check in with your team every now and then! That is what all those chat apps are for.

7. Set limits

In the same way that you will establish a routine, in particular for when to start work and take breaks, stop work for the day when you have to. This can be tricky if you’ve gotten used to an alert in the office but do set boundaries. If you need to work overtime, clear with your superior and proceed from there.

8. Get up and get out once in a while

Make sure not to stay indoor in front of the computer the entire day. It is still your responsibility to yourself to be healthy.

Get some sunshine early in the morning. Take advantage of the opportunity to prepare a decent and healthy meal and forego the fast food that you’d likely to have if you were in the office. The gyms are closed because of the enhanced quarantine being enforced but there’s no reason you can’t do some simple exercises at home.

Make working from home as worthwhile as you can by knowing what works best for you! Remember, you’re working from home, so help yourself be productive by creating a conducive environment for yourself.

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