Remote working is arguably one of the best outcomes of the pandemic for employees who are tired of long and complicated commutes. It’s also one of the worst.
That is because working from home has given birth to a lot of your bad habits. Here are three. Do they sound familiar?
Lack of movement
One of the benefits of traveling to work is movement. Even when you drive to work, you still have to get up and dress, walk to the garage, get down at the office car park, take the elevator to your office, and probably go down minutes later to walk to the nearest Starbucks. All these constitute a movement.
In a work-at-home setting, everything (your makeshift workstation, the kitchen, the coffeemaker) is within reach. Some workers don’t even bother to take a bath before starting work because they can do it during breaks. Movement is limited to a few steps or strides, and many remain sitting on the same spot all day. Doing so brings a lot of physical ailments and discomfort, including a stiff neck and back pain.
The best solution for this, of course, is to move. Basic exercises can help bring relief from back pain, neck pain, and numb arms and fingers, and improve your posture. Here is a simple stretching workout to start your day.
Since your food cupboard is very accessible at home, reaching into it for a snack or two is too easy. The problem is you tend to do this several times a day. Snacking is not a problem if that will give you more energy to be productive. What you eat is a problem.
If you love snacking, get healthy snacks. No matter how often you munch or how much you consume, you won’t get unwanted calories and fat, or excess salt and sugar. Here are examples of healthy food for snacking that are also tasty. You may prepare some of them in advance:
- Fresh fruits
- Granola bars
- Sweet potato chips
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Roasted chickpeas
- Zucchini Parmesan chips
- Banana s’ mores
- Carrot sticks and garlic dip (preferably homemade)
- Squash chips
Losing track of time
In an office, it’s easy to compartmentalize. You have a set time for arriving, working, lunch break, finishing up, and leaving for home. But at home, you tend to lose track of time, or you get distracted by personal concerns or interests. The result is an extended work shift that could stealthily go either way: work addiction or low productivity.
Put a stop to this bad habit by working with a time management system. Here are three standard methods, all of which use time-blocking, with a slight difference in the details.
1. Time blocks
Time blocking is a way of plotting your day’s workload within work hours. Instead of relying on a to-do list, you identify each task, set a time for it, and stick to the schedule. When the time is up for that task, you move on to the next. If you’ve not completed the first, you have to go back to it when every other blocked task is finished.
Doing this makes your daily objectives clearer. It’s essential to know how much time you need for each task to plot them more accurately. Learn more about time blocking.
2. Pomodoro technique
This time management method slices your work hours into bite-sized pieces. The term “pomodoro” was taken from the tomato-shaped timer used by its inventor. The goal is to finish a task in 25-minute time blocks. Once you start, you set the timer to 25 minutes. When the timer rings, you stop the task and take a break (five to ten minutes is fine). Stick to your break time and go back to work at the end of five minutes. Repeat until you’ve done four sets of 25-and-5-minute blocks. The rule is, after four sets, you can take a longer break of up to 30 minutes. Then, you do the same cycle until you reach another four, and you can take another long break.
So, if you do 5-minute short breaks and 30-minute long breaks, you would have made 12 25-minute time blocks, 12 short breaks, and four long breaks within your 8-hour shift. And you still have 30 minutes left to finish some tasks. That would have been a productive day.
3. Franklin Covey technique
This time management system was created by Benjamin Franklin, who carries his notebook around all the time, jotting matters — important, urgent, or interesting — so he’ll have them on record. Stephen Covey popularized it for his #3 principle in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The technique is useful in identifying priority tasks during the day. In this method, you throw everything you think you need to do in one master list. Then, you classify them according to:
- Important and urgent
- Important but not urgent
- Urgent but not important
- Not urgent and not important
You must finish the first category of tasks before moving on to the second and the third. The fourth can be put off for another day.
Working at home is an excellent solution to the health and safety problems of the pandemic. But it has caused some workers to adopt bad habits, namely, limited movement, intermittent snacking, and poor time management. These tips will help you kill these bad habits while you work remotely.