Happiness at work is undoubtedly about quality over quantity. After the switch from working together in the workplace to remote working due to the COVID19 pandemic, everything we knew about productivity and time management seem to be rendered useless. Work from home can be as productive as you wish it to be, or it can be so dull that you end your day in the pyjamas you woke up in! Certainly, nailing working from home also needs self-regulation to an extent, but mostly it's about small rules. These small rules, or effortless habits have proven to align your work hours into focused bursts of energy, making sure you are mindful when needed, but not thinking about work when you shouldn't be.
Stick to a sleep schedule
Sounds easy right? But we all know that with our Netflix or Amazon Prime subscriptions (or both!), sleeping on time is a hell of a task. But innumerable studies show that sleeping at the same time and waking up at the same time everyday makes you sharper, faster, more intuitive and more patient. No surprises, because brain fog doesn't exactly make us great colleagues. Get your sleep to make sure your work doesn't spill over after work hours, so that you can get more hours of clarity and energy to do things you love.
Work from a dedicated workspace
We cannot stress on this enough. Spending an 8 hour shift on your bed is not good for you, or your back for that matter! What might seem like a small luxury at first will cost you in terms of physical discomfort and lack of focus.
Set up your desk, bring out the comfiest chair, make sure the lighting is good and get working. Coming back to the same spot to work will wire your brain to expect that it's time to get serious everytime you approach your home office. To make working a little easier, make your home office appealing. Make it colorful, pin pictures or colorful sticky notes. Make sure to keep it orderly, and return to your desk every time to need to focus.
Keep in touch with your colleagues personal lives
While it may seem that we have been cut off from the world against our will, it is easy to recreate those little coffee break conversations virtually. Those little 'how are you doing actually add more value to team building than we realize. Make it a point to nourish video conferences with enquiry about your colleague's family, how their routine is and how they are feeling. Ask your work friends to accompany you in an online game they might like, you will realise that making human connection in the time of social distancing is not that hard after all. Continue doing new things, explore fun games, quizzes or challenges to do together and bond with your team.
Stretch for clarity
This is the most vulnerable time for potential couch potatoes. Peeling yourself off the bed to get some exercise is a woe for a lot of us, but this tiny secret may help. A 2 minute stretching break might just ease you into a more sustained exercise routine. Remember, you don't have to do an intense cardio workout every day of the week to stay fit. Stretching your stiff muscles for just 2 minutes after every hour (or every 2 hours depending on the nature of your work) will instantly lift tiredness that often results more from muscle fatigue than hour long concentration. There are plenty of 2-5 minute full-body stretch videos that are an instant lift-me-up!
Keep a gratitude journal
A gratitude journal is simply a tiny notebook where you note all the tiny things that happened that day that you are grateful for. The point here is to gain insight of little blessings in life, when other things may not be going as we expected. Psychology Today reports, and we quote, 'researchers in two different groups found that people who kept gratitude journals or wrote gratitude letters to people they had never properly thanked reported feeling happier and had significantly better health than those in the other group." Gratitude journaling allows you to look at everything from the lens of a grateful, cup half-full kind of person. Little things like getting a phone call from a friend, or making a surprisingly good breakfast for yourself, or finally working out as planned can be noted in the gratitude journal. Basically, anything you're even a tiny bit happy about- marks your day with goodness and gratitude. This is a life changing activity, and we need gratitude now more than ever. Try it out to notice the otherwise obscure goodness of everyday.
Fix time for something you love
Between the fixed work hours, the chores and the shows left half watched online, it sure takes discipline to work on something new, or consistently doing something you love. Procrastination is another shark when you are home all day, so being strict with timing helps. Everyday, fix the same time to doing your chosen personal activity. For some, it could be (finally) beginning to exercise, some might want to take an online course, some might want to bring back their artistic side. Regardless, a goal is reached when you practice each day, and that consistency will come with planning your day and allotting a fixed timing for your goal. Rethink how you plan your day, tighten the ropes and just get started. And everyday at that time, beat the urge to procrastinate and practice. By the end of the lockdown , you will be grateful for all those hours.
Take a break, meditate
We don't realize it but our minds are always weighed by a lot of thoughts. And by a lot, we mean tens of thousands of thoughts. You are literally never 'just chilling' and that's why something as simple as focusing on your breathing is a transformational, spiritual exercise. Making meditation a daily 5 minute practice (to begin with) can prove to be an instant mood-lifter. Meditation takes the power away from your thoughts, which sometimes get too stressful, taking your focus to your most basic organismic activity-breathing. Do it in the morning to start the day with a clear head, or do it before sleeping to ease into a thoughtless calm before bed. If you're interested, check out this short introduction to meditation on YouTube- https://youtu.be/inpok4MKVLM
Maintaining human connection in the time of social distancing is essential not just for team building, but also for our collective mental health. It is also an important time to take care of ourselves and push to the front those priorities that fell on the back burner due to our busy schedules. Take care, and remember, there is never a better time to change your life and work on your happiness than today.