Making the transition to working from home can be a challenge in the best of times. These days, with social distancing efforts making more and more positions remote, it can be hard to adjust to the “new normal” and cope with the fear surrounding COVID-19. As various states begin to prepare to re-open to varying degrees, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the air.
It’s normal for all this anxiety to have an impact on your productivity. According to the CDC, stress related to the pandemic can make it difficult to concentrate. They also note that it can impact sleeping patterns and worsen mental health conditions, which in turn can negatively impact your ability to concentrate. However, there are ways to manage your anxiety and minimize the loss of productivity.
Take Breaks From the News
It’s easy to lose track of time refreshing your news page of choice, and the 24/7 news cycle means there’s always content to sift through. For the most part though, the updates you’re getting aren’t worth the stress they’re causing. It’s good to stay informed, but jumping on every detail as it comes out distracts you from work and contributes to your anxiety. By limiting your news intake, you can manage your anxiety, and eliminate one of your biggest distractions from work.
Take Breaks From Work
When your capacity is lower than usual, trying to force yourself to be productive for 8 straight hours isn’t going to work. By taking breaks to recharge, you’ll have more energy to put into the task at hand when you are working, and you’ll ultimately be more productive. This article from the Washington Post recommends at least 45 minutes for each break. Use these breaks to do things like meditating or exercising, which can help with your anxiety. If you’re working from home, chances are you’re not getting as much physical activity as you’re used to. Getting your blood flowing will make you feel better, and help you focus.
Give Yourself Structure
Part of the reason you’re struggling to stay focused at home is because you have less structure than you do at the office. You can regain some of that structure by trying to maintain your workday routine as best you can. Some ways to do this are:
- Getting up at the same time every day
- Only working during “business hours”
- Designating a space in your home for work
- Setting boundaries with your family or roommates for when you’re working
Having structure will help keep you on track, and give you a sense of normalcy. That being said, don’t be too hard on yourself if you struggle to stick to it.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Staying productive in unusual circumstances is difficult because it feels counterintuitive. It’s hard to feel like work priorities are priorities when people around you are worrying about their health and livelihood. Rather than trying to ignore those things, the best way to move past those feelings and manage to focus on work is to acknowledge them. According to the CDC, talking about your feelings with loved ones, and maintaining those relationships (even from a distance) is good for your mental health.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Your mental health is always a top priority. Visit https://mhanational.org/covid19 for more mental health resources, and https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Health-Month for more information on Mental Health Month.