If you find yourself having to work at home while you wait for the coronavirus crisis to end, how do you organise yourself for maximum efficiency? Here are a few of our expert tips.
- Enclothed cognition
It’s an old saw that you should ‘dress for the job you want, not the one you have’, but a similar principle applies to working from home. Psychologists use the term ‘Enclothed Cognition’ to describe the fact that we perform better when we’re dressed appropriately for the task in hand, whether it’s jogging or presenting a work project.
So, if you find yourself working at home, don’t be tempted to do it your dressing-gown. Try to stick to your normal routine of rising, washing and dressing, start work on time and remember that no-one wants to take a videoconference call to see you sitting in your pyjamas.
2. Sleep patterns.
Don’t be tempted to enjoy a lie-in. Sleep studies show that oversleeping has just as bad an effect as sleep deprivation on your cognitive functions. Spend what would normally be your commuting time on exercise or healthy cooking.
Make daily and weekly lists of priorities, and work according to your energy levels. Some psychologists suggest that we should do menial or repetitive tasks when we’re starting up in the morning, and save essential tasks until our energy levels peak later in the day.
Keep in touch with your work colleagues using e-mail, but more importantly if possible use technology such as Skype and Zoom for face-to-face video calling, which can cut through a lot of chain e-mailing. This sort of social interaction also combats loneliness and psychological isolation.
4. Environment and Exercise.
Research shows that slightly cold or slightly warm environments can speed up human metabolism. Vary the room temperature during the day so you don’t get too comfortable. Some lighting manufacturers produce ‘daylight’ bulbs which are supposed to be good for our eyes.
Remember to take regular screen-breaks if you are working with a computer, and take regular breaks for exercise. You can find our top tips for a 10-minute cardiovascular workout here.
5. Physical Boundaries.
Try to create a boundary between your work and home life. If you are lucky enough to have a separate home office building, use it in working hours, or if you have an office space set aside at home, work there – not on a laptop on your sofa.
Try to keep kids, phones and other distractions out of your working space.
Organise your working space somewhere where you have natural light, and preferably a view out of a window, which is psychologically comforting. Some psychologists say the most calming working position is to sit with our backs to a wall and a clear view of a door or window.
See also: Working From Home After Lockdown – the New Refurb Trend?
6. Mental Boundaries.
It’s equally important to have mental boundaries. Switch off your computer at the end of the working day, and do something enjoyable instead – exercise, reading, listening to podcasts or music.
If you find yourself becoming anxious or upset, try breathing exercises.
Stay in touch with your family and friends by phone or e-mail. Try to talk about things you enjoy rather than concentrating on the crisis.
Try to turn a crisis into an opportunity by taking the time to learn new skills or study different subjects. That way, when it’s all over you can say you’ve gained something from the experience.