New Yorkers are no stranger to the stress that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on our shoulders. It’s officially been five months since Governor Cuomo enacted the “New York State On Pause” executive order and social distancing guidelines are still in place. As such, many workers are still performing the ins and outs of the daily grind from the comfort — and stress — of their own home.
As we enter the sixth month of quarantine measures, some businesses have allowed employees to reenter the office. Regardless, countless small offices have refused to let their employees bump elbows for the time being. Even though many people have begun to accept the trials and tribulations of remote work, that doesn’t mean that staying focused has become any easier.
Why has it been so hard to stay focused as we continue to work remotely?
- Distractions: Vox reports that only 14% of Americans worked from home a few times a week before the pandemic began. Now that a greater majority of office workers are spending time at home, they’re surrounded by pets, kids, video games, and other things that they like. More than 200 million copies of Minecraft have been sold as of May 2020, and most people are using these outlets to cope with stress. But there are other distractions, too. This includes the desire to click into a new tab and start online shopping when work gets dull.
- We don’t have coping mechanisms: As stated in the previous point, most people have never had to work from home full-time. Because of this, we don’t have the ability to cope with this new way of working and living. Paired with the ever-present stress of a threatening virus, our ability to cope with the world is at an all-time low.
- Zoom fatigue: To combat the lack of in-office meetings and events, some jobs have started using video chat more often. While this seems like a good idea in theory, Zoom fatigue is real and it’s very, very draining. When you’ve gone through a few calls each day, it makes sense that you’d want to take a nap.
Focusing might seem impossible but there are a few ways to make your workday more productive. Rely on these tips to help beat the curse of quarantine.
Ensure your home office is comfortable
If you’re working from the couch, you’re more likely to get distracted. After all, the couch is where you cuddle up with your pet, play video games, and watch movies. If you’re trying to use this recreational space as your makeshift office, it makes sense that your brain would rather go into “fun” mode.
Establishing an office is the best way to ensure your work gets done. This doesn’t need to be a separate room of your house, but rather, a section of your home where you know it’s time to work. This could be a certain spot at your dining room table or a corner of the room that you’ve bought a small desk for.
Once you’ve determined where your workspace will go, try to add reminders of work. This might be decorating it with fun events with coworkers or putting up a physical calendar that displays your most important meetings.
On top of that, you should also consider the temperature of your home. Did you know that most people are most productive when their thermostat has a temperature of 71.6 degrees? It’s summer in New York, so don’t be afraid to crank your A/C if you’re feeling too hot.
Stick to a schedule
If your job only focuses on results, it might be tempting to squeeze in hours at two in the morning. However, altering your schedule can really mess up your work/life balance. Establishing a solid schedule will help you appreciate the time off that you do have. Indulge in that extra time you have before work since you no longer have a commute. Enjoy the hours of relaxation you can have before bed. Working until you’ve burnt yourself out won’t help your productivity in the long run.
Find better coping mechanisms
As mentioned earlier, many people don’t know how to cope with the stress of quarantine, let alone working from home on top of it. If you’re struggling to relax and de-stress, there are a few things you can do to better cope:
- Try talking to a therapist. There’s still a stigma against getting help in certain parts of the world, but many therapists are accepting online patients in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. They might be able to give you better coping mechanisms and offer a different perspective when you need one. At the very least, they will be an unbiased person to talk to when you need to vent your stress.
- Indulge in self-care. Self-care doesn’t necessarily mean shopping online. At its core, self-care is designed to improve your health and wellbeing. Take the time to slow down, practice mindfulness, and enjoy the world around you. Eat healthy food. Try those new CBD gummies that everyone has been talking about. Broad-spectrum CBD has 0% THC and offers you just the relaxation. If you’re finding it difficult to relax at the end of the night, this natural additive might be able to help.
- Take more breaks throughout the workday. If you’re running on empty, a quick walk around the block can make all the difference. You’ll be most productive when you’re not feeling overwhelmed or stressed out.
Many people will continue working from home for the foreseeable future. If you want to feel more productive and less stressed, rely on these tips.
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