WFH Round Three: Focus
The hardest part is getting started.
1) Ditch the phone
Yes, the ultimate boss level commitment to get shit done.
Leave your phone in another room away from your designated workspace with the ringer volume on high. While you’re at it, re-evaluate the notification settings on your phone and confirm what you’re fine with being interrupted by.
We all know the pinterest/instagram/tiktok endless loop into the abyss is real and can easily spend half our day watching dance videos and laughing at cat memes. Try and re-frame that as a reward for after you get your work done.
Need some convincing? Check the Your Activity tab on instagram to see how many hours you spend a day on the app (I just did and am honestly horrified). If that number’s a lil too high for your comfort, you can set a daily reminder in that same section.
2) Take Breaks
I literally made coffee, started cooking and gave up, did laundry, washed dishes, went back to cooking, ate a bowl of cereal, and watched an IG live Q&A in between turning on my laptop and actually finishing writing this. Everyone works at a different pace and there's no harm in taking short breaks, but set timers to remind you to get back to your task at hand.
3) Look Away
Install a browser extension that will pop up a notification every 20 minutes to remind you to look away from your screen and give your gorgeous eyeballs a break. I usually stretch and drink some water during this time as well to help me refocus. The Mindful Break Chrome extension from Google gives you a mindfulness tip and guides you through a short breathing exercise that may help alleviate some pressure as you work. Free on their webstore.
Your laptop and phone come with built in night light settings that reduce the amount of blue light emitted- use them unless you’re working on something that requires color. You can also set this feature on an automatic timer, my tech transitions to a warmer temperature at dusk every day.
4) Set boundaries
This is key especially if you’re currently spending most of your day at home with your partner. Be honest around the people you’re sharing a space with about your workload and let them know you might be unavailable for a few hours. Schedule important meetings and phone calls when you’re certain you’ll have time alone or can arrange to be physically separated, and keep your fellow homebodies in the loop.
Speaking of couples, relationship psychologist Esther Perel breaks the quarantine stress down for us in this fantastic New Yorker article.
If you work as part of a team or are managed by multiple supervisors, take the extra step to keep the lines of communication open. We are at the point of suffering from zoom meeting fatigue and over analyzing email tones, try and make it easier for yourself and ask for clarification or structure if you can.
A lot of us are on our own and are expected to adhere to strict deadlines without the in-person accountability and self-discipline we might be used to. Be kind to yourself and trust the process.
Disclaimer: I'm writing this from the POV of a healthy(ish) able bodied young(ish) woman with no kids or pets and no intention of telling you what to do because there's no correct way to deal with the current trash fire that is the world at the moment. Also, I'm not a professional writer or self-proclaimed expert, and have no intention of spurring debate or entertaining any negativity. I'm aware there's an extra amount of blogs and email newsletters floating around lately and I honestly suggest reading them all to see if anything can be useful to you. The tips shared below are based on personal experience and ideas as an artist and small business owner, if you can relate to me and find any of these practical, fantastic! If not, I hope you can find someone/something else that brings you clarity and connection during this time.