The lockdown related to COVID-19 has introduced a lot of people to a situation they probably wouldn’t have seen themselves in a few months ago: working from home. When the subject came up, at first it seemed like a great thing, but once you are in the situation, you quickly realise that not all that glitters is gold.

I thought I would share a few tips on what has kept me on track, while working from home. These are tips that don’t necessarily relate to productivity (I’m sure you will agree that there’s a lot of that out there), but more to do with making sure you are mentally in the right space to deal with the situation.

Limit news and social media

I am very familiar with the need to keep the tv on the news channel, or to keep picking up your phone to find out what the latest news is on social media. We all want to know what’s going on around us, but investing that much attention is not necessarily good for you. Taking in all that information on a daily basis, and trying to work through it in your mind, is very taxing mentally.

I’m sure you have also experienced the being in the house all day, and not doing much physically or in terms of your work, but still feeling exhausted. That’s because your mind has been going full throttle, trying to digest all the information you are taking in, all the while trying to figure out what that means for you and the your loved ones. The anxiety itself wears you down. So try this instead: allow yourself one news bulletin a day and only check your social media, no more that twice a day.

Create a routine and stick to it

Your mind is aware that the world has been turned on it’s head. It’s all disorienting and unfamiliar. Reduce the stress induced by the pandemic by creating something familiar and comfortable.

Create a routine that you follow everyday. Start with making sure that you list all the tasks you will tackle before going to bed each night, have a regular time for waking up, and have a few activities that you do every morning (try reading, meditating, exercising) without fail. And most importantly, stick to that routine! Having something familiar, that you can depend on to be the same everyday, will ease your mind during this time when everything feels so uncertain.

Do not work in your pyjamas

This one is very tempting, I know. But trust me, pjs do no favours for your mindset. Your mind knows that pjs = sleepy-time/relaxing, so you will definitely not do your best work while you are dressed in your pjs. Make sure as part of your morning routine, you change into a set of your regular clothes to signal to your mind that you are up, and it’s time to work.

Create a dedicated work space

Speaking of signaling, another great way to signal that it’s time to work, is sitting in a dedicated space every time you work. It’s tempting to sit in bed since it’s winter time, but yet again, this signals the wrong thing to your mind and messes with your productivity. So unless you have always worked in bed, find another place to sit and stick to it.

I hope you find these mindset tips helpful. As a bonus thought: go easy on yourself. You are doing well. Nobody in our generation has gone through something like this, and there is no roadmap to follow. As long as you are getting stuff done and you are healthy, physically and medically, don’t sweat the small stuff.

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