For the majority of people, work and home are two separate places for a reason. Both require our attention and effort, but in different ways, so physical separation was essential to enable this mental separation. In the wake of COVID-19, many people saw this separation removed instantly and, as worlds collided, many struggled to adjust.
We all know how it feels when we get into a good working rhythm. Once we feel that we’re working well, it’s easy to start skipping breaks to stay in the zone. However, taking breaks – especially while working remotely – is essential to productivity, because breaking up the workday can improve your health and quality of work. If you feel yourself staring at the computer screen and not getting much done, take a break – it might just help you become more productive in the long run.
Here are five other ways to increase productivity while at home (spoiler alert – they all involve taking a break):
- Give yourself permission … and get outside!: Some remote workers, particularly in COVID-19 restrictions, feel that working from home (or having a job at all) is a privilege, so they feel obligated to be at their desk all the time. Realize you will be more productive and healthier with breaks and give yourself permission. Fresh air and sunshine can improve your mood, renew your focus, and give you an energy boost.
- Eat meals away from your desk: If possible, eat your meals away from your workstation. Take the time to rest your eyes, eat with your kids, or catch up with a friend or family member over the phone or via video chat. It can be tempting to eat at your desk and continue working, but mealtimes are a great time for everyone to reconnect and take a break together.
- Separate the work from the home: If you can, set up a separate workspace in your home. And, if you are used to doing a morning commute, perhaps start and end your day with a walk around the block.
- Limit social media time: Avoid going on social media sites while you are on your break. Social media breaks are not restorative as the brain is still engaged, not giving you the mental rest you probably need.
- Try mindfulness: Mindfulness is the teaching of how to pay attention. It does not need to be yoga or meditation. It is being in the moment without letting other thoughts intrude. There is a multitude of apps, videos, podcasts, and blogs that can help you get started with a mindfulness practice that suits you.
Make the most out of your break time by choosing an activity that benefits you. Consider what type of break you need and choose how to spend your time accordingly.
Working from home is an adjustment for everybody, one that takes time. Having our workspace and our home space suddenly become one can be a difficult transition. If you find yourself unable to focus or disengaged from work tasks throughout the day, the best thing you can do may be to step back and, simply, take a break.
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