COVID-19 forced many people to work from home suddenly. That trend won’t change after they get vaccinated for the highly contagious disease. About 67 percent of companies say that they plan to make remote work permanent or long lasting.
Assuming that the companies follow through with their plans, you could continue working from home for the next several years. The change sounds spectacular to some people who enjoy deep thinking in private offices where no one will interrupt them. It sounds much less spectacular to those who miss interacting with coworkers so much that they now experience symptoms of anxiety, depression and loneliness.
No matter how long you must stay away from your workplace, you can make a plan to keep your mind engaged and help you adjust to the situation. Follow these three ways to keep the mind engaged while working from home so you can stay sharp.
Schedule Breaks Into Your Day
Time can start to feel meaningless when you spend the day working and living in the same place. Without a way to divide work from the rest of your life, the distinction gets blurry.
Schedule breaks into your day to make sure you give your mind opportunities to recover. Doing so will improve your productivity in the long-run.
If you don’t feel comfortable setting a schedule for yourself—a lot of people are so used to managers overseeing their days that they don’t know how to regain control of the workday—try using the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique establishes longer periods of concentration interrupted by brief periods of rest.
Create a Space That You Only Use for Work
Stepping into an office or similar space tells your brain to switch into “work mode.” If you have a spare room in your home that you can into an office, you will benefit greatly. Of course, not everyone has that luxury. A single person living in the suburbs might have a guest bedroom they can turn into an office. A busy parent living in a city apartment probably doesn’t have a lot of room to spare.
No matter what type of living situation you have, you can create a space you only use for work.
Perhaps you find yourself camped out on your living room sofa while you work during the day. A few changes to your environment can simulate a workspace. Try:
- Using a lap desk instead of letting your computer sit on your lap.
- Investing in one of the best sectional sofas so you get plenty of back support during hours of work.
- Adding a specific lamp to the room during your work hours.
- Closing the door to prevent interruptions for kids, spouses, housemates, etc.
- Posting a sign on the door that requests quiet during your work hours.
- Unplugging the TV and blocking social media sites so you can resist their temptations.
Your approach to creating a workspace doesn’t have to look like someone else’s plan. Think about what would help you and take action to create an area where you can concentrate.
Exercise Your Mind Outside of Work Hours
What do you do when you finish working? If you’re like many people, you immediately turn on the television to relax. Nielsen shows that people watch more TV now before the pandemic. Unfortunately, watching TV rarely does anything good for your brain or body. Look for alternative activities that will exercise your mind. Some options include:
- Practicing or learning to play an instrument.
- Meditating – several apps will introduce you to a non-denominational practice.
- Playing games and completing puzzles like Sudoku, crossword puzzles, Rubik’s cube, and card games.
Physical Exercise Also Gives Your Mind a Workout
You should also make sure that you set aside time for physical exercise. Many studies show that cardiovascular exercise improves brain health by improving blood flow, reducing inflammation, and lowering stress hormones.
During quarantine, you probably can’t go to a gym. Going outside works just as well. You don’t need a gym to exercise. You may, however, benefit from an exercise class led by an instructor. You have plenty of options like:
- Fit for Life Senior Fitness
- Yoga With Adriene (free classes on YouTube)
- Tracy Anderson Online Work Studio
- 7 Minute Workout app (free with ads)
Ideally, you can perform an exercise that gets your heart pumping. Jogging or riding a bike can work wonders on brain function. If those don’t sound like good options for you, start by taking short walks. You can benefit from any physical activity as long as it gets you up and moving!
Find What Works for You
Everything from your job to your body can influence what works well for you. Some of the things on this list will keep your mind engaged while working from home. If not, just keeping exploring new opportunities. The search might take some time, but you will find something that matches your unique needs.