Being forced to work from home at first was a real novelty- the thoughts of sitting in my dressing gown on my nice comfy bed working away on my laptop sounded so appealing. As you can imagine the novelty quickly wore off! Now that cabin fever and the misery of prolonged social isolation is really kicking in, working from home is becoming tougher. So, what can we do to stay productive and ever-focused while continuing to work from home? Here are a number of tips you can follow.
Tip 1: Draw up a schedule
Because a lot of people associate their homes with their free time and relaxing, it can be hard to find the motivation to sit down and get to work. Procrastination is public enemy number one here. Setting out a schedule to follow each day really can help you stay on track. Allotting times to work on specific college assignments/work tasks will help limit procrastination.
Tip 2: Set up your office
As silly as it sounds, setting up an office space in your home can be a real necessity. Physically separating your work space from your relaxation space can aid in increasing work productivity. Be sure to pick somewhere in your home that is bright and quiet (I can already hear those with kids quarantined at home laughing!) Ideally do not work in your bedroom. Sleep expert Dr Sophie Bostock maintains that we associate our beds (and bedrooms) with relaxing and sleep, therefor turning our bedrooms into our makeshift office could disturb our sleep patterns. When you work from your new office, make sure to limit the use of your mobile, as scrolling through Facebook can hamper productivity!
Tip 3: Exercise
While being productive and working from home is important, maintaining an adequate level of exercise is just as crucial (I know I’m preaching to the converted here!) With gyms and sports centres closed, being active while socially isolating can be problematic. By just typing “home workout” into YouTube, an ample array of workout routines, perfect for even the smallest of spaces, are available. I’ve found getting out walking or jogging in the fresh air can really help beat those cabin fever blues (2km radius permitting!)
Tip 4: Diet
It is important to maintain a healthy diet while working from home. It’s very easy to binge on junk food while being quarantined (at present I have 6 Easter eggs just sitting in my room asking to be eaten!). With social distancing being the number one priority, food shopping can be an issue.
There may be many obstacles to healthy eating during this crisis, but with planning these may be easily overcome. Writing out a meal plan for the week ahead can really be beneficial. Planning your meals and snacks will help you resist the urge to splurge on Easter eggs. Having a meal plan and making a shopping list will make your shopping quicker and easier while ensuring you have a supply of healthy snacks at hand. Eating a balanced diet can aid work productivity, maintaining a healthy immune system and good mental health.
Tip 5: Free time and social media
Make the most of your free time to be productive. It takes no effort to open Facebook and scroll for hours. It is also easy to get lost down a rabbit hole while reading up about the corona virus. Be sure to limit your exposure to hearsay about the corona virus (Facebook is full of Wiki scientists!) and only take your information from reliable sources (such as the HSE). It is very easy to drown in all the information and anxiety surrounding COVID-19, so try to segregate your free time from it. Being productive during your free time, such as practicing a musical instrument or de-cluttering your extensive collection of make-up (a long overdue task of mine!) may be more beneficial than binging on Netflix. Use your time wisely!
Tip 6: Social distancing does not mean you have to be isolated
In the era of technology, it takes no effort to keep in contact with friends and family. Some people are coping with this crisis better than others, so if you are struggling during this difficult time, reach out to others for help. Allotting time in your day to socialise (via mobile or social media obviously!) should be a priority if you are feeling down. Similarly, if you know any elderly neighbours/family living on their own try to make time in your day to check in on them, a quick phone call might just make their day.
During these strange times, I wish everyone health and happiness. I look forward to seeing everyone again when the University of Limerick re-opens.
Lisa Brennan is a postgraduate student in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences. She is studying for a sMRes and joined the department in January 2020. Her research focuses on the transition to a plant-based diet in young active individuals and she is supervised by Professor Phil Jakeman. Contact Lisa on firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @lisabrennan94