Work From Home Hacks That Kept Me Sane And Productive

Work From Home Hacks That Kept Me Sane And Productive

Working from home is awesome... until it isn't. It's been about 10 months since my company shifted over to full remote work and during that time I had to stave off some bad habits and learn some new ones to adapt to this strange new environment. Here are some ways I handled it so that you can establish a solid routine and come out of quarantine a nice and shiny gem.

Social Skills: Talking to strangers is like taking care of a plant. If you don't do it every now and then it's gonna die off. I caught myself slipping when I was talking to my handyman the other day and maybe went a little too far in conversation when I asked him too many personal questions and forgot about such filters... so I use these two habits to remind me to not be an idiot.

HelloTalk: Using this app I started practicing my Chinese and meeting people from around the world! It encourages voice communication so you'll get to stretch those ears and vocal chords a bit. A bonus is that it allows you to have that "international" experience that's out of reach during these times.

Book clubs: An easy group activity to stimulate thoughtful conversation and promote more reading! I found these fairly easy to keep up with and a low pressure weekly commitment. We have a decent churn rate of new and old folks popping in and out that keeps things fresh and it's been an excellent source of meeting new people on occasion.

Physical Fitness: Home gyms and YouTube workouts surged in popularity early on during COVID and while gyms are unreliably open, you don't want your body to literally become one with the couch. Early on I found that I would be glued to my desk until about 5PM everyday and my Apple watch would tell me that I have yet to spend a whole continuous minute standing up. If I didn't want to age into an old man body, this needed to change.

Workout Triggers: Whenever I do our daily "stand up" meeting, I make it a point to constantly do one of the following until the meeting is over: Standing Elbow Knees, Lunge Squats, or Leg Lifts/Raises. These can be put into any reoccurring meetings for maximum effect.

Netflix Stretches: When I pop up a Netflix show, I start on the ground and try to hold some stretches for as long as I can. By idly relaxing into these I've noticed my flexibility go up and it's less shameful because there's literally no one else around you. I've found Pigeon Pose, Runner's Lunge, and Seated Butterfly Stretches that are low effort and open up the hips.

Dumbbell Lifts: Without access to a proper gym I've been able to maintain some decent vanity muscle definition through the acquisition of a bench press and dumbbells that go up to 50lbs. My routine consists of 2 alternating workouts that hit different parts of the body. One is 3 sets of 10-12x Incline Bench,  12-14 Bosu/Yoga ball ab crunches, 10-12 Dumbbell Deadlifts, and 10-12 Bent Over Two Dumbbell Rows. The second is 3 sets of 10-12 Pistol Squats (Feel free to start easy on these), 10-12 Bicep Curls, 10-12 Tricep Dips, and 1-2 minute planks.

Mental Health: If COVID taught me anything, it's that my mental health is a lot more fragile than I had thought and self love is a real thing when you're isolated during a quarantine. Understanding your feelings, recognizing times of stress, and giving yourself permission to be happy with yourself is a practice worth pursuing. For me physical fitness generally takes care of this but with my reduced interactions with people... these are other ways I've found my psychological kicks.

Sunshine/Coffee/Dog Walks: Getting sun onto my skin has a very notable effect on my overall mood being lifted. I make it a point to be able to walk to a nearby park, coffee shop, or area with lots of sunlight before lunch time. Even though I'm not a huge coffee drinker I'll stop by the coffee shop just to see what's up and get some human interaction in.

Online Video Meetings: Want to stay in your sweats and look like you just woke up? Well too bad, this can lead to other lethargic habits and getting into the habit of seeing your co-workers face to face seems to make me remember that there's a human on the other side of that text box. I did a recording of my overall feelings towards the people at work for 2 weeks when I didn't see them on camera and then suggested we do a Friday webcam stand up to see each other's faces. I noticed that my feelings shifted from "this is annoying" to "I'm glad that person seems to be doing well" and is helpful especially with new faces!

10 Minute Morning Meditations: It seems like a lot to ask but in terms of bang for your buck, I can't recommend this meditation video enough. I fell on some dark times during COVID and was really feeling a lot of, well.... depression. Something about this just made things a little better for me each day and the message at the end reminding you to love yourself for the unique being that you are brought a little smile to my face knowing that I had the capacity to also love myself. I hope this does the trick for someone else out there!

The list comprises just some of the things that I try to do on a daily basis and chose to share what was the easiest to implement with the biggest gains. Keep an eye out for your own small hacks don't be afraid to share some of those with me as I'm always looking to improve :)  

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