At Coca Crossfit we know a lot of our members are working from home as employers look for ways to practice social distancing in order to flatten the coronavirus curve. (Between drafting and publishing this post, Governor DeWine has announced a stay-at-home order to take effect until April 6th.)
As if an international pandemic wasn’t enough to stress you out, major changes in your routine - like working from home, missing out on the gym and the local watering hole is sure to cause stress among even the most emotionally stable. So, along with Coach Kate’s belly breaths in every warm-up, here are some more tips for reducing that stress, feeling productive and staying healthy - both physically and mentally.
Be Productive and Reduce Stress While Working from Home
Staying productive, keeping the right frame of mind, avoiding distractions and continuing to prioritize your health will all help reduce stress during this time, and all the time. Leaving work at work is more challenging when you work at home. We usually think of “work” as a place - maybe a delivery truck, a hospital, an office, but four walls and a roof - away from home, your spouse, your children and your personal life. However, you’ll all be on top of each other for a few weeks, so let’s cover some tips that work from home professionals have always used to be productive and stay sane when your work and your home share the same space.
1) Start with a Schedule. End with a Schedule. Leave Work at the Office.
Each day starting with a schedule, like a to do list with time allotments, provides the structure you may be missing from your typical work environment. For example:
- 9am-10am Reply to Emails
- (20 min. break)
- 10:20-11:40am Finish Proposal/Project/Report/Campaign/Invoicing, etc…
Feeling Productive Releases Dopamine
A sense of achievement boosts dopamine release. So, plan your day in such a way that you can divide your tasks into small measurable goals. A schedule keeps you from being reactive all day, gives you direction and as you complete tasks, you feel productive. Go into your schedule knowing this is "best case scenario" and it is 99.99% unlikely this schedule will be implemented to perfection - do not let that frustrate you. It is to be expected.
End each work day by making your schedule for the next day. Celebrate the items you completed as designed and let yourself off the hook for the items you didn’t get done by adding them to the next day’s schedule. This is how you “leave your work at the office” when your office is at home. Compartmentalize, make tomorrow’s schedule, shut off your “work” frame of mind and switch gears to be in-the-moment with your special people when the day is done.
2) Use Time Blocks and Breaks
Many entrepreneurs and work-from-home pros use a strategy called time blocking, or context scheduling, to be more
productive and also to reclaim your time. Instead of reacting to social media posts, texts, phone calls, emails and things that can pull you away from completing a task throughout the day - block out dedicated time for those activities.
Make your time blocks in 45-90 minute increments and reward yourself when a task or time block is completed with a 10-20 minute break. Use your breaks to get up, stretch, get that blood flowing - check your phone for non-work related texts and posts, make a quick social call, etc. For more time blocking strategies, click on the image to read “Reclaim Your Schedule with Time Blocking.”
3) Choose the Best Workspace
Be mindful of how your physical space is affecting your head space. Create a work space that can be mostly free of distractions while still being stimulating.
Try out a few spots before making one permanent - paying attention to your mood and your productivity in each spot. For example, working near the front window might be too distracting if you’re focused on who is passing the house and what’s going on in the neighborhood but working in the basement might feel like a dungeon and stifle motivation.
Helpful Tip: Use Headphones to Cancel Out Noise
The noises around the house, especially if you're sharing the space with kids, spouses or roommates that are also working from home, can be a major distraction. Wireless earbuds come in very handy! Consider listening to work-related podcasts, or something about industry trends. The content will keep you in the work frame-of-mind and act as some good background noise to drown out the distractions.
4) Avoid Feeling Lonely - Stay Social from Home
Working from home can feel lonely and loneliness can cause low productivity, low morale and serious health impacts like compromised immunity! A few tips for simulating social interactions to avoid feeling lonely:
- Listen to interviews while you work. Hearing other people socialize can make you feel like part of the conversation - google “funny interview podcasts,” “best interview podcasts,” or whatever you’re into - just something to surround your senses with people socializing and resist going insane without real social behavior.
- Proactive social media breaks. Whether it’s a post on Facebook, checking your Snapchat updates or posting your work space on Instagram, use your time blocking method to make time to reach out to friends, check in with them and get yourself a healthy dose of interaction. Don't let social media be a distraction - instead schedule social media time to stay social and stay productive.
- Lean on phone calls when working from home. It’s easy to drown yourself in emails when working from home. When you find yourself responding to a work email that is lengthy, consider picking up the phone. Now, more than ever, a 15 minute phone call can be the answer. Not only will it save time emailing back and forth, but it also helps to satisfy your social needs as a human. Win-win!
5) Schedule Exercise and Healthy Eating
Heard of the “Freshman 15”? It’s the phrase for a freshman at college that is very likely to put on an extra 15 pounds in their new environment. Similarly, many professionals that work from home can pack on the pounds getting used to their new environment as well. The refrigerator / pantry is right around the corner and without walking around your former work environment you’re spending more time being sedentary.
The solution: add exercise in your schedule - walk the dog more, use breaks for some burpees, push-ups, get better at double-unders, kick up on the wall to practice handstand push-ups…. Whatever it is, consciously schedule movement into your work from home routine and avoid continuous snacking.
Working Out From Home.
We all CrossFit for the benefit of having a community, a positive push from our fellow athletes and that personal training we get with each WOD, but while we learn how to work from home, we'll also be doing what we can to help you workout from home as well. Subscribe to Coca CrossFit on YouTube , Facebook and Instagram to get daily coaching on working out from home. Make sure Coach Kate has your email address and you are keeping CrossFit in your regular routine to stay physically and mentally healthy while you adapt to social distancing. If you need help connecting to Coca CrossFit, contact Kate now.