This has been a summer like no other; I have faced challenges that I never could have foreseen and there have been many times where the things happening on my screen never seem as important as the things outside my window. It’s weird, how going outside now feels like playing a video game and real life mostly takes place virtually; everyone wears a mask, we all stay exactly six feet apart from each other, and we stare suspiciously at anyone who makes any sound that resembles a cough. With all that happening outside my bedroom, this room seems to be getting smaller and smaller every day. It’s hard to stay focused on anything right now and even harder to stay focused on school/work. So, I had to reorient myself and create philosophies that actually help me get things done. My philosophy on staying focused while working at home is simple: make a plan, get comfortable, and be realistic.
Make a plan. This is the first step, and it is also seen as the most important and tedious. But it doesn’t always have to be: making a plan is simply finding a way to organize the task you have to do. I find it easier to start by making a list of all my tasks and organize them by importance or urgency. Also, on the list I tend to make note of the tasks that I am most looking forward to. Keep in mind that you don’t have to start your planning step in this way, you can use whatever strategy works best for you, this is just how I work. My first tip for making a plan for the workday is to keep it timed and ‘fun’. Try giving each task a specific time limit so you don’t accidentally spend all day doing one thing or exhaust yourself on the first task. Another tip would be to not forget to take breaks. I usually take a 30 min break for every hour and a half of work and try to go for a walk on my breaks to keep my body active. Lastly, I would say to rotate between the task you are dreading and ones that you are most looking forward to, just to keep things ‘fun’.
Get comfortable. Now, this is the fun part; this is where you get to make your space whatever you need to spend hours there working. You can pull out that space heater, grab a fuzzy blanket, make yourself a cup of mint tea, and get comfortable. There are just a few rules that can help you draw the line between a comfortable but productive workspace and a napping corner. Number one would have to be not to lie down, or you’ll fall asleep. It’s better to sit comfortably but with good posture, so you can keep your blood flowing and stay alert. Number two would be to get out of the room you having been spending all of your time in and try to find a new space – this will get harder the longer you stay at home, but try going outside or laying on a blanket in the park and make a day out of it (remember to wear a mask and stay six feet apart of course). The Mooney’s bay beach is a good place to start. In terms of music, I find an instrumental pop playlist on Spotify to be helpful because you’re not distracting yourself with the lyrics, and I find that humming to familiar tune helps me stay focused and gets me in the right mood.
Lastly, be realistic. You likely won’t get everything done on your list. You won’t be perfect and won’t be able to follow all your rules. This is okay. You need to be open to listening to yourself, and when you are having a hard day, be able to give yourself a day to just exist. Be honest with yourself about what you need and communicate that to those around you so you can create realistic expectations of yourself. Take your time and be patient. The most helpful advice I’ve ever gotten about productivity is not to strive to work at 100% all the time. If you can do 15% everyday then you can get a 105% done in a week.
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