By Sam Bauer
I usually like to start off my posts with a bit of context, so as a full disclaimer I have struggled with anxiety and depression. If you’re wondering why I’m telling you this, it’s because generally people who suffer from mental illness benefit hugely from a set schedule and separate areas for work/relaxation. So for me, working from home absolutely stinks. I don’t need to be anywhere at a certain time, my morning commute is from my bed to my desk (in my bedroom), and I don’t leave my house unless I have to. Suddenly the time between now and my next deadline becomes this huge nebulous space that becomes hard to structure. You have too many choices but none of them are your choosing and the things you normally would have control over aren’t options anymore. Not to mention the overwhelming amount of distractions.
That was a very long winded way of saying I know what a struggle this can be and it isn’t your fault if you’re having a hard time working from home. Your brain wants to be productive, it really does, but all of the cues it’s getting from your surroundings are saying “Don’t work too hard, this our relaxing space”. Here are tips that work for me to ease that process.
- If at all possible, do not set up your workspace in your bedroom. I learned this one the hard way. Even if you can train your brain to recognize the bedroom as a workspace, then it means you won’t be able to relax and go to sleep because you’ll be permanently stuck in work mode.
- Wake up at the same time you normally would and use set lunch/snack breaks. Technically you get up whenever you want, but my brain usually takes that as an excuse to go “I don’t want to work on this so go get snacks” or “We got up late so clearly it’s not a work day”.
- Wear some form of work clothes. It pains me to even write that because if I could live in sweatpants, I would. But remember that we don’t have the luxury of using location as a form of structure so we have to trick our brains in a different way. Do I hate dress slacks? Yes. Do they keep me productive? Also Yes.
- Turn off your phone unless you need it. You may have better self control than I do but if my phone is near me, then I’m going to look at it. And whatever self control I might have had at work is nonexistent at home. So do yourself a favor and turn off your cell phone. The telemarketers can wait.
- Finally, just remember that when work hours are done, you’re done. Don’t force yourself to go back and answer emails or try and finish a project after dinner. Uch as you want to be productive, there’s only so much your brain can do per day. Setting a schedule for downtime will help you on track to be productive later.