There is no doubt about it—the events of 2020 have made massive changes in all our lives. Though some have been affected more than others, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all in some way. We live in a world on edge as we all try our hardest to find some semblance of normalcy, adjusting our lifestyle to accommodate “the new normal”. Life in the home is no exception, especially considering how many individuals are now working from their home base. One of the major challenges that comes with this is the temptation to resist multitasking, which is a part of developing healthy habits while working from home.
We’ve spoken before about how multitasking can be detrimental to our overall well-being and overall productivity|LS|MJ1|RS| . However, it is important that we also note that our current situation has created an environment that heightens our desire to multitask. While you are in your home, you may be more aware of things that need your attention. For example, if you are out at work all day, you likely won’t be thinking about the pile of dishes waiting to be done while you’re prepping for a meeting. However, if you’re at home, you may feel more compelled to get the dish washing out of the way even when work tasks are calling out to you, and it could end up interrupting your workflow. Ultimately, this comes down to an issue of sharing physical space.
Sharing space complicates your workflow, whether you’re sharing it with your unfinished laundry or your partners and/or children. The lack of separation between different aspects of our lives results in all facets of our lives being jumbled together and sharing the same space.
For example, let’s imagine a situation; a couple plans a much-needed date night, but they have to quietly watch a movie in the living space while their kids are asleep in the other room instead of going out to a restaurant and a theatre. During the movie, one partner gets a work email notification on their phone, and since their work laptop is only two feet away, they feel compelled to quickly take it out and answer the email and resend that report their boss can’t find in their email inbox. While they’re doing that, the other partner may decide they might as well go quickly throw the laundry in the dryer. This ends up eating about thirty minutes in total as other distractions arise, stemming from those two “quick” tasks, and quality time between a busy couple has been effectively disrupted because every realm of their lives is in the same space, pulling their attention in different directions.
Parents especially are feeling the brunt of this issue; children demand attention and cannot be ignored, so parents do not often get a break from their role as caretaker, even if they are on the clock. Without the benefit of school or daycare, children must be educated, entertained, and cared for in the home—with an added side of cabin fever on top of that. Children’s needs cannot be turned off or disregarded, so they will end up taking priority over work in some situations. But again, this issue is not exclusive to parents; many individuals and couples also report that they are experiencing increased distractions.
So, how do we deal with this? Well, it’s important to create structure in your household, whether it’s for just you, or you’re living with partners, children, or even pets!
Create and Nurture New Habits:
One thing that comes with the territory of working from home is increased flexibility. Flexibility in work hours can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on how you structure your time. The freedom it gives you may be a relief if you need to quickly shuffle your schedule around for some reason, but some days it may be hard to resist the urge to stay in your PJs and grab your laptop to crawl back into bed to work. Though the urge may be strong, you wouldn’t be doing yourself any favors! Instead, remind yourself you are creating a new habit and that it takes time, but it will catch if you persevere. This starts a process where you lay down new neural pathways, these get stronger each time you repeat the habit. This is what you use to motivate you to stick to a routine , where you work in a distraction free environment that is optimized for your success.
Designated Workspace - No Matter How Small:
A room with a door away from your sleeping and leisure space may be ideal, but it’s mostly important to have a designated workspace, even if a private workspace behind a closed door isn’t available to you. If you must share your workspace with other household members, it can be helpful to work out a plan together so everyone can get the most out of the space. For example, organizing your day to include mutually decided on “quiet hours” could help all parties find their focus.
Take a Break - You Deserve it!
It is also important that we understand the importance of taking breaks and remembering designated leisure time is an important part of productivity. Seeing as shared space is a main source of this issue, if you are able to take breaks outside, it may improve your mental wellbeing immensely. Taking yourself out of a distracting environment will give you a much-needed reprieve from all of the things that are constantly calling for your attention. A walk in a nearby park or reading a chapter of a book on the balcony could help refresh your mind and help you center yourself. Make sure you switch off those email notifications while you’re at it, as well!
In the end, the first step is to acknowledge that we are facing increased challenges as a result of our current global situation. As we try to make the most of it, pay attention to your own productivity and the levels of distraction you are experiencing, and be sure to adjust your time and space accordingly. Optimizing your space for productive work will help you reach your Ultimate Potentials!
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