Applying these five tips will help you emerge from this time healthier, stronger, smarter, and proud of all you accomplished and enjoyed with the gift of extra time.
Casablanca – Do you have some extra time on your hands? Have you had classes, meetings, events, or travel canceled? Are you working from home, with no traffic, no commute, and no waiting for a taxi or tram?
All of a sudden, most of us have some extra time on our hands, a rare gift.
We may be earning less money, but we are rich in time. So how are you planning to spend your extra time?
No one knows if this season will last weeks or months, but either way, how can you make sure you come out of the lockdown with no regrets?
You could waste the opportunity: Lying around the house; binge-watching television series; endlessly scrolling social media feeds; getting nothing done; and feeling anxious, lonely, and depressed.
Or you could apply five simple tips to come out of this season stronger, healthier, smarter, happier, and a better version of yourself.
Sit down with a cup of coffee and dream about your possibilities for this season. What could you accomplish? Who could you connect with? What could you learn? Who could you become?
Think about how you can develop every dimension of your life: Your mind, your body, your spirit, and your heart. Have you ever thought to yourself, “I would love to do that, but I don’t have time”? The coronavirus has provided a huge gap in your schedule, and now you do have time.
You might choose to spend extra time with family, create something (paint, build, write, cook, sew, design, edit), exercise, take an online course, spend time with God (pray, read Scripture), connect with friends online, read books, or clean and organize at home.
Plan your week
Once you have a list of priorities, you need to schedule them.
Have you ever found yourself on a Sunday night wondering, “What did I do this weekend? Why didn’t I get anything done? How did this happen?” When we have a lot of extra time, it can be tempting to “go with the flow” and fail to create a schedule or plan. This is a mistake, and we often end up disappointed with how little we accomplished, and how little we enjoyed the time.
Even if you tackle just one priority per day, you will see progress on your goals each week, and be motivated to continue.
As the lockdown drags on, it is very easy to fall into destructive patterns that result in low energy, low motivation, and low productivity. Without a strong routine, we can neglect the positive habits that keep our energy levels high: Sleep, exercise, and healthy eating.
Our bodies function better when we sleep at night, so staying up too late and sleeping in each morning brings apathy and lethargy. We also need seven to nine hours of consistent, deep sleep, so avoid sleeping in multiple short stints.
Staying active while stuck at home is a challenge, but you can find exercise classes on YouTube and get a full-body workout without any special equipment. Working up a sweat, raising your heart rate, and burning calories will increase your energy, help you sleep better at night, and boost your mood.
For healthy eating, the best tip I can provide is to strategically choose when you grocery shop. Studies have shown that people who are hungry while grocery shopping tend to buy more junk food and unhealthy snacks. It is best to visit the grocery store when you are well fed and feeling motivated about your health, like after a workout.
Create a dedicated workspace
One of the big challenges to productivity at home is the environment. If you try to be productive while sitting on the couch in front of the television with your kids in the same room, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Most professional offices provide desks and chairs, rather than couches and beds, and it is rare your kids interrupt you at work to get a snack.
If you do not already have a home office, create a space that you can devote to work. Choose a location with a (locking) door, natural light, and preferably a set-up as similar as possible to your normal office. Arrange specific “office-hours” with your family so you can minimize distractions and have set blocks of focused time. Headphones can also be a lifesaver.
Without the external accountability of colleagues, office hours, and strict deadlines, we may find ourselves spending more time surfing the web, scrolling social media feeds, or repeatedly checking the statistics of global coronavirus cases. In order to stay productive while working from home, we need to guard ourselves against incessant screen time.
First, turn off social media notifications. Do you really need to know urgently who commented on your post, liked your photo, or shared in your groups?
When I turned off my notifications for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, I noticed a huge reduction in how regularly I checked the apps. I also recommend muting WhatsApp groups that are particularly active but not relevant to your productivity.
Second, use airplane mode. When you need to focus and get important work done, an email notification, phone call, or even the buzz of a new WhatsApp message can be enough to derail your concentration and pull you away from the zone of deep work. A good habit is to devote blocks of uninterrupted time to difficult tasks. Then you can do your best work without your phone sabotaging your train of thought.
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Finally, guard yourself from screen time by setting limits. Many of us need reminders and guidelines to hold us to our commitments. There are plenty of applications that can help us limit the time we waste on social media or block access to specific websites at set times.
For example, while writing this article I may be having trouble focusing and be tempted to watch a YouTube video or check the latest news. If these websites are blocked for an hour, I am much more likely to fight through the temptation and get back to work.
The coronavirus lockdown will not last forever. Eventually, we will go back to work; children will return to school, and this season will be over. Applying these five tips will help you emerge from this time healthier, stronger, smarter, and proud of all you accomplished and enjoyed with the gift of extra time.