Before I knew how 2020 would shape up to be, I would always bemoan having to report to the office five days a week. Surely having some days working from home would be better, I thought. Think about not having to walk through a thick crowd to commute and end up sweaty despite your best efforts, think about not having to see and talk to people (#introvertproblems)! But now that I’ve been working remotely for more than four months, I’m starting to question why I wanted a life like this. Be careful what you wish for, they say. Who knew the once-coveted concept of working from home would feel like a trap? While we get used to this new setup, here are a few things worth remembering.
We’re treading unfamiliar territory, but you can relax
It’s a struggle trying to find the line between work and home in a remote setup. I’m trying to look put-together for a Zoom meeting while behind the laptop, hidden from the camera, there’s a mountain of laundry and a pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. Meetings tend to go on late at night, something that seldom happened when we had offices. And if you add the fact that you can’t really take a breather by going to the mall or hanging out with friends, it all starts to get a little too much.
But take a step back, take a breath. The past few months is new for everyone and we’re all trying to find our way in the dark. After all, this isn’t just your normal work-from-home experience, this has the danger of a health crisis dangling above it.
Your level of productivity does not define your capability
By now you’ve probably fallen into a rhythm at work. You get good weeks but you can’t deny that there are bad ones too. Working from home might have pushed some of us to create demanding and overwhelming schedules to achieve more. We’re staying at home anyway, shouldn’t that mean we should be doing MORE? We all need to be reminded that it’s totally fine if we haven’t been our 100% productive selves lately. Don’t beat yourself up over it too much!
Don’t set aside your well-being
When a person is under a stressful and unfamiliar situation, they try to react as normal as they can to at least have a sense of familiarity. I know I’ve pushed myself to work hard even when I didn’t feel like it because I know this is what I normally would’ve done. Or maybe the reason why most of us bury ourselves in work is to forget the stress of our uncertain realities. Instead of developing a new routine, what we actually end up doing is winding ourselves up too tight, so we might end up worse off compared to when we first started.
Take ample break times
It’s not a crime to take frequent breaks from work if that helps you get better. It might sound counterproductive but taking a break, when done right, could serve as a productivity and mood booster. It lets you rest your thoughts, process information better, and produce more creative ideas.
Don’t be pressured by what you see on social media
Or better yet, try to get away from social media even for a few days.
Perhaps what makes you even more discontented about your level of productivity is the fact that other people seem like they are doing better. Your friends are starting their own podcasts, growing indoor gardens, learning new languages, or giving their houses a makeover. You can’t help but compare all those to your accomplishments during the quarantine. But you shouldn’t feel pressured, every individual responds to situations differently, don’t let what you see dictate how you spend your time this lockdown. Besides, you should know by now that not everything on social media is what it seems.
Identify the things you need to do
One great practice to get things going is to pinpoint your main concerns whether you’re a student or an employee. Is it building on your research paper? Is it submitting a proposal? This will help keep you from getting overwhelmed by all the things you think you need to do. Set up your own standard of what proper work during lockdown should look like.
Cut yourself some slack
If you keep pushing yourself to constantly achieve more despite your brain and your body protesting, you’re on a highway to a huge burnout. One of the things I have learned during isolation is that I should not punish myself for not being at my ultimate best. We’re in the middle of a crisis and we are all coping in our own ways. This, however, does not mean you can use the “We’re in the middle of a pandemic” card every time your productivity is questioned. We still have responsibilities to do.
Do what you gotta do
Whether it’s stress-baking yet another batch of chocolate chip cookies or binge-watching the newest Netflix releases, you gotta do what you gotta do. I’m all too familiar with the feeling of being confined between the four walls of a home (we all are), but we have to do our best. Maybe I’ll be spending the rest of this year figuring out how to get my productivity back on track but that’s okay. It’s okay as long as we wake up every day determined to keep trying.
How do you deal with bouts of unproductivity?