Remote work, for some of us, is the new normal. For some people, this is a dream come true: you can work in your sweats, customize your office, and there’s no daily commute. For others, not so much. Bravo to all of you who’ve figured it out, but for many of us, remote work continues to bring about challenges.
There are distractions everywhere you look, and sometimes snuggling up on the couch with a movie is simply way more enticing than work! Plus, it’s getting colder in lots of places. And nothing kills productivity like an icy, wintry day.
One thing’s for sure: I’m not built for spending the entire day looking in front of a screen. And it seems like others can relate—screen fatigue is actually very common.
Research, in fact, shows that excess screen time can cause issues such as eye strain, headaches, and blurred vision. There’s even a condition called computer vision syndrome, where you experience a combination of eye symptoms.
Luckily, I’ve spent the last year working mostly in a virtual capacity, so I’ve got some tips!
1. Create a workspace
Just as it’s important to create a space dedicated for sleeping, making a work sanctuary is essential—especially if you’re at home all day. Crafting a room solely for work will help you stay focused, since you’ll have fewer distractions. Plus, you’ll probably start to associate this room—which is built for work—with work!
Think about what elevates your mood—posters, flowers, candles, music, etc. We are generally more productive when we’re in a good headspace. So whatever will bring in positivity, bring it to the workspace.
Your workspace can be entirely your design, and your aesthetic will probably depend on the work you do, and your personality.
2. Limit Media Consumption
While it’s important to be conscious of social media and its effects in general, working remotely may require major self-control and moderation.
We all know how much time you can waste scrolling through feeds, regardless of your intention. In reality, when you’re in front of a screen all day, you’re bound to get distracted online. And, if you’re alone, with no accountability, it can be difficult to pull yourself out.
Consider scheduling time where you put your phone aside, as this can seriously improve focus and productivity. If you’re a media junkie, think about your intake as a reward. Get a task done, watch a tik-tok.
3. Block time-wasting sites
Working remotely can be great if you love to do things on your own time. But it’s scarily dangerous how easy it can be to procrastinate. We all know how tempting it is to neglect work and browse our favorite sites for hours. After all, who’s holding you accountable? But you’ll kick yourself later for not getting your work done—so get blocking!
Consider forcing yourself to reduce your time spent browsing websites that are distracting you from work. Using a website-blocking app will hold you more accountable with the various reminder notifications you can set.
Luckily, there are also plenty of easy-to-use chrome extensions that block websites.
4. Schedule personal time
When there’s no true work hours, it’s hard to separate work from personal time. This is why we need ~formal~ breaks. Unless you actually schedule them, you may end up just feeling like you should continue working.
Schedule breaks into your day that allow you to replenish your energy and ultimately gain focus. Going too hard will just result in burnout and having little to no energy.
Learn about what works for you, whether it be a coffee break, a crossword puzzle session, or personal lunch breaks.
5. Get active
It’s pretty much universally known that exercise has a plethora of benefits. These can include improving sleep, increasing focus, and decreasing stress. Plus, you may even find that your workouts yield your most creative ideas!
In fact, it’s been shown that exercise is significantly linked to enhancing creativity. Maybe you’ll finally come up with your Einstein idea during that grueling 5-mile run.
If you’re physically stuck at home, there are lots of videos and apps which can help you craft a workout regimen—get sweating!
6. Find time for social interaction
Remote work can leave you feeling lonely, and the quiet time can get to be too much. It’s important to remember that we are empathetic creatures that truly need human socialization!
Don’t forget to check in with your friends and loved ones. Utilize FaceTime and your free time to catch up and reconnect.
If you’re in close proximity to a coffee shop, try spicing things up and working there. You’ll feel less isolated and may even leave having made a friend.
7. Create schedules
Working from home can leave you with blocks of empty time where it can be difficult to motivate. Creating daily schedules or to-do lists will provide you with more of a sense of control and structure.
For instance, listing your priorities at the beginning of the day will reduce your stress. And starring certain items to show prioritization will make your day feel more manageable.
Adjusting to some of the changes due to covid-19 have placed strains on all of us. Remote work is not all of our normals! So take the steps in your power to improve and nurture your mental health and eventually, improve your work.
Author: Lydia Schapiro