All public and private Anchorage schools have been closed to students through May 1 by a health mandate issued by Gov. Dunleavy, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services commissioner Adam Crum and chief medical officer Dr. Anne Zink. Students will continue the school year through distance learning options, according to the mandate.
In addition, in an emergency “hunker down” order, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz instructed businesses not defined as “critical” to close their premises and “utilize telecommuting or work from home procedures.”
It’s important to consider what this change in environment will mean. This situation presents a very different working environment than what most of us may be used to. It can be challenging to focus on work when you’re in front of your TV or personal computer. It’s a different lifestyle that we’ll have to get used to for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t also perks.
If you’re struggling to adapt to working or taking classes from home, here are some tips to help stay focused.
Create a schedule
Creating a daily schedule can help you differentiate when it’s time to work and time to relax. Even deciding a time to work on simple things like checking and responding to emails can energize you with a productive mindset.
Working from home can also be an opportunity to create your ideal work schedule around when you feel the most productive. For example, getting all your important work done early if you feel more alert in the morning will make for a more productive day.
Once work is done for the day, however, it may be difficult to switch gears and relax. I suggest finding something that will take your mind off of work, like a good TV show.
It’ll take a lot of willpower to stick to the schedule while you’re surrounded by temptations at home, but combining this with the following tips will make it a little easier.
Stick to your morning routine
Going through a morning routine as if you were actually going to work can help mentally prepare you to start the day. Following a morning routine also includes getting dressed for the job. For some, that may be required for video conferencing, but it will also get you into a working mood. While lazing around in pajamas all day is comfy, it may not lead to the most productive outcome. At the very least, a routine can be something familiar in an unfamiliar situation.
Create separate areas for working and relaxing
Having different spaces to work and relax will help you switch gears mentally. It’ll also reduce the likelihood that you’ll be tempted to watch a funny video or look at social media when you should be working. For example, instead of working from the desktop computer that I play video games on, I’ll set up my laptop on the dinner table. Not only are the two areas far apart, but I also have more room for notes or a textbook than I would have at a desk.
Set boundaries with family or roommates
If you’re not the only one at home all day, your family or roommates might pose a distraction from your work. A roommate using a blender repeatedly or deciding to practice an instrument could certainly affect your productivity. The same could be said for noisy family members. Do what you can to maintain a productive work environment, such as wearing noise-canceling headphones, but talking about boundaries may prove necessary. Sharing your new schedule with family or roommates may help them understand your needs. A quiet room with no interruptions, for example, can go a long way.
Take a break every now and then
Even though it’s imperative to get all the work done that you normally would, remember to take a few breaks throughout the day. It’s not really feasible or likely that you can maintain focus and productivity for eight hours straight. So, scheduling in a few short breaks can break up the monotony of the work and give you some time to breathe. Then after 15 minutes or a lunch break, you’ll feel refreshed and can get back into working.
Most of all, try to enjoy the flexibility of working from home
Working from home isn’t all bad. It provides the flexibility to adapt to almost any lifestyle or personality type. However, with freedom comes the reliance on one’s own willpower to drive their productivity. It can be challenging, but while we get used to our new reality of social distancing, it’s at least worth a shot to maintain a positive attitude.