Cabin fever. Itchy feet. Sore bum. Climbing the walls. Mad online shopping. Wanting to clobber the person(s) living with you. These are all tell-tale signs of stress due to working from home and not being to go out.
What can we do to better our work-from-home experience? Whether we are sharing our temporary office space with other family members or housemates, or living alone, here are some ways to reduce the difficulties of a coronavirus lockdown.
1. Create a workstation that you’ll be going to each day.
Whether it’s a temporary hot desk at the dining table or a dedicated location, such as a study or home-office corner under the stairs, make sure that you will be returning to the same work spot each time. Stability and routine in any form can help reduce a lot of mental stress, because our minds don’t have to subconsciously adapt to a new environment and take in new data. This frees up your brain’s short-term memory to be dedicated for handling other tasks, and will help you start your day a lot faster by reducing a lot of warming-up or ‘pfaffing around’ time.
To achieve that, try not to hot desk at a different location each time, such as working on the sofa on Monday, working from the bed on Tuesday, working from the patio or back garden on Wednesday, and so forth. Choose one particular place and try to go back to it each day. You’ll welcome the routine after awhile.
2. Plan your alone time.
It sounds crazy to be planning what you’ll be doing when going to the bathroom, but when you’re living in close quarters and unable to go out often, hiding out in a bathroom for a few moments of quiet peace can be the only temporary respite to restore sanity. Mothers who have young children following at their heels all day can certainly attest that bathroom time = quality me-time.
For people who are meticulous planners, you could even work out a schedule with the family members or housemates as to who gets a specified block of uninterrupted me-time in the toilet or a specific room. That way, you’ll set some good boundaries and you can look forward to the planned break without someone pounding on the door.
3. Do some simple redecorating.
An inexpensive and simple string of fairy lights can brighten up a dull room, and turn it into a cozy home theatre. Or you can do some home DIY with simple craft projects, such as making paper fan medallions and rosettes for a boring wall, using old magazines and catalogs. If you have kids, letting them re-commission the dining table for a blanket fort for a day or two can also help them find new ways to enjoy their indoor home environment.
4. Re-organise your closet: Do the hanger test.
If you find your closet is looking rather full lately, you can take this time of being frequently at home to work out whether you have clothing items in there that are not being worn and can possibly be donated or given away.
Here’s how to do it: Take everything out of your wardrobe and put them back in with the hangers facing the wrong way. Whenever you wear an item, rehang it the right way. By the end of 2-4 weeks, it will be very obvious which items are least worn and can be considered for donation or swapping. You may find that 50-75% of your wardrobe is not really being used.
Let’s face it, many of us have at least one item in our closet that we’ve bought and never worn. Statistics are revealing that we buy twice as many clothes today as we did 15 years ago, but 70% of them are not worn regularly. Considering how much excess we have will help us think twice the next time we do an impulse buy.
However we choose to spend our time indoors, one thing is for sure: The moments when we can go out for a breath of fresh air will be incredibly rewarding, especially since there is less air pollution these days, due to reduced global travel. Stay strong, everyone!