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Being Stress Free And Productive In The Times Of Corona

The current lockdown and the subsequent expectation of ‘work from home’ becoming the norm, employees have been reporting increasing stress due to the continued ‘work from home’ operating environment.

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Working from home during this lockdown period seems to have increased work pressure and mental stress. This primer looks at overcoming both during these unconventional times.

Although most employees will not admit, ‘work from home’ has always been seen as a good thing. It typically involves more sleep, less working hours, an easy paced schedule and home cooked food. However, with the current lockdown and the subsequent expectation of ‘work from home’ becoming the norm, employees have been reporting increasing stress due to the continued ‘work from home’ operating environment.

In this current environment with limited domestic help, ‘work from home’ involves participating in household chores. Every day seems like a working day with people conveniently forgetting boundaries between weekdays and weekends. Needless to say, the calls are getting longer and deeper into the night. Indian bosses are always under the wild trepidation imagining that their subordinates are sleeping throughout the day. Given this period of extra professional stress and no social relievers or physical activity, this article looks at simple hacks to make the soul crushing environment a tad more bearable.

Convince yourself that ‘work from home' definitely saves on time!

Irrespective of what you might think, ‘working from home’ can save upto 20 hours every week. You read that correctly! A majority of the savings is in commute time. In a city like Bangalore, one of the worlds most congested cities, any commute beyond 5 kilometres is at least an hour affair with another 30 minutes with cab cancellations and inability to locate places due to poor networks and call drops. Add an early morning or a late night flight every other week and you are saving an extra 5 hours in transit and travel time. Without any outdoor socialising with your boss, nearly one or two evenings in a week are completely spared. Add up all of this and you make a neat 4 extra hours every day. Pure extra time!

A boring routine is the key to beat the blues!

The problem of excessive stress might get aggravated if someone decides to get up late, have a hearty breakfast, start the day at 11 a.m., take a de-stressing shower post lunch, preparing a long home cooked meal and then panic because of the insurmountable work that gets added by the evening.

A fixed routine of getting up and being ready for work by 8:30 a.m. will go a long way in making the day bearable. Psychological hacks to having a clean, spacious and well lit desk will make the working environment pleasant. In addition, it will help to eat home cooked meals on time. Also, follow the Japanese principle of eating only till 80% of your hunger is satiated. The last thing your company needs is a bunch of pumpkins working for them.

While a disciplined routine might sound difficult, it can prove to be highly beneficial. A fixed 30 minute nap in the afternoon can greatly aid productivity. In addition, sleeping at a fixed time everyday can also help in making up for months of sleep deficit!

The key to succeeding is tuning your mind to change!

Given every day is ‘work from home’, the expectations from work are bound to change. Weekends will no longer be sacrosanct, welcome to working with Indian bosses! This is a reality that should be accepted in most professional service firms. However, there will be a certain amount of downtime during the week. After all, there is only so much useless work that can be created when the entire economy has come to a standstill. The mind should be tuned to this change and can be persuaded to pick up a new hobby - reading the newspaper, progressing on your reading lists, picking up an old hobby. It is also the perfect time to kick the butt and reduce dependence on alcohol and wine. Not to mention throwing away old clothes and shoes and giving your room a new look altogether.

Run baby run!

Staying indoors perennially can be depressing to say the least. In such a scenario, regular physical activity and absorbing sunlight can prove to be therapeutic. While we are all homebound, physical activity can range from home exercises, good old use of the skipping rope, a few stretches to get that extra adipose in shape or yoga in the apartment terrace. Walking while speaking numerous hours on the phone can be hugely beneficial. It is also a good time to indulge in household chores, buying vegetables and cleaning the toilets. It makes sense to do it with care and enthusiasm as you might turn out to be more endearing at home and as a result, less frustrated.

Disconnect away from digital toxin!

Most of us spend nearly 3 - 5 hours on our smartphones everyday browsing carelessly. This idle time can be productively used by reducing non-value add transactions. Avoid reading the same news again and again every few hours. The news is depressing and there is little novelty about the situation. With the barrage of fake articles being circulated (e.g. post this picture on the pages of 5 Facebook friends and Corona virus will never enter your doorstep), it is prudent to switch off family WhatsApp groups. The purest from of digital toxin to be avoided at this point is the ‘my leader is better than your leader’ debate on social media. In case you find someone repeatedly posting toxin along the above lines, snooze that person for some time. Keep yourself happy by posting pictures of yourself reading, cooking (e.g making the Dalgona coffee), skipping or even making your bed. Finally, it is best to avoid speculating on the future. Digital discussions on what will happen next month, when the economy will come back, when will we go back to office are futile and emotionally draining. This extra time saved can be used for all the other items mentioned earlier.

Make less shallow digital connections!

The importance of bitching on an everyday basis when the world is going around in circles can never be underestimated. A 15 minute bitching call with your office colleagues to pour your hearts out, typically against your bosses, is a very practical idea to stay connected. In case you think the suggestion is trivial, please google the term, ‘commercial benefits of office gossip’. Given the downtime, it is also a great idea to connect with old friends over weekends and reminiscence over enjoyable moments in the past.

In conclusion, we are going through an unfortunate time that occurs once in many decades. While a recurring ‘working from home’ environment might seem more stressful than working regularly in office, following some of the above hacks might make this period a tad more bearable.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
Covid 19 work from home lockdown productive Stress Free

Sandeep Das

The author, Sandeep Das, is an MBA from IIM Bangalore, a management consultant, the author of “Yours Sarcastically” and a columnist.

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