Whether you’re practising social distancing (thank you) or in mandatory self-quarantine, we’re all in some way or another trying to adjust to this new normal. Most office-based work has been brought to our homes, which can be challenging with all the distractions of the world begging for a bite of our two-second attention spans.
Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a list of (hopefully) useful tips to make the most of this time. I know change can seem daunting, but together we can make the most of the situation. More time at home could have some silver linings.
Cluttered space, cluttered mind. Make sure your work space is clean and minimal. Stick to the bare necessities – a laptop, writing materials, good lighting and a big jug of water.
2. Avoid multitasking
Focus on one task at a time. This sounds simple, but we’re not as good at sticking to it as we’d like to believe. Give all your focus to the task at hand, and if its one that requires significant time, break it up into smaller tasks to complete throughout the day.
3. Take a 5-minute break for every 30 to 45 minutes of work
This is SO important. This tip is based on the Pomodoro technique, a time management method that can be used for any task. Frequent breaks help us maintain focus and avoid getting stuck in procrastination ruts that come with trying to work for hours on end. There are even apps or websites you can use to implement the technique.
Take these five minutes to get up, stretch, walk around, look outside, drink some water and come back with more energy and maybe some new ideas.
Shocker, right? Your body will thank you for keeping active. It alleviates your mood, releases those feel-good hormones and ensures you can give your 100% to the task at hand. Working up a sweat is so vital when you’re mostly confined to your home. There are thousands of workout videos out there, so go solo or get your roommates to join, all you need is your body and a little space.
5. Purge your virtual distractions
Switch off your phone’s push notifications. Limit checking your e-mails to twice or three times daily. Subscribe to a SINGLE news portal. (Lucky for you, Lovin Malta just launched its whatsapp service, for all the latest news.)
And actually, now that we’re at it, limit your overall time scrolling Facebook. Don’t participate in the hysteria of misinformation doing its rounds. It’s not good for your mental health and no one benefits from everyone panic commenting on every COVID-19-related news bulletin.
6. Break up the day
Make a timetable for all the tasks you want to complete through the day, and make sure they’re varied. For example, if you’ve got three major work-related tasks, spread them out through the day and fit in time to exercise, spending time with your loved ones (virtually or not) and doing something you’re passionate about.
7. Put the smartphone down
Avoid using your phone for the first hour of your day and the last hour before bed. Take that time to be mindful. Make your coffee, read a book, stretch. I can guarantee you’ll be calmer and more focused for the tasks at hand.
8. Nurture that back burner project
Self-quarantine means spending a lot more time inside than you’re used to, but this could be the perfect time to revive that side project you’ve left on the back burner because you’ve been too busy. Take this time to take up those passions, hobbies and talents that need the time you now have.
Paint, sing, learn how to make origami, try out a new recipe, brush up on your French skills which you’ve neglected since O Level times. You could come out of this learning something new about yourself and the world.
9. Reach out to your loved ones
Whether you can see them physically or not, its important to keep contact with your community of support. Check up on your loved ones, have a good laugh. We need each other more than ever in times of uncertainty.
10. Get some sunlight everyday
Whether you can leave the house for a solo walk, have a balcony or simply a window, take time to get some fresh air and sunlight. It will brighten your mood and help your immune system too.
11. Avoid the temptations of junk food
Staying at home can be synonymous with binge eating our favourite junk, but avoid over-doing it. We need to keep our immune systems in tip-top shape, so eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and home cooked meals.
And most importantly, stay calm.
Meditate. Breathe. Know that you’re being a responsible citizen and that social distancing is not going to last forever.
Reach out to your community, stay strong and know that we will get through this together.