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Surviving Prolonged Working Hours…. at Home!

In my previous article, I touched upon the 10 reasons b ehind stress due to long working hours in the current home-bound life. So the obvious question is how do we combat it and what are the solutions?

Four months research combined with a lot of personal hits-n-misses helped me come up with the below list of 8 solutions:

1. Work — Life Separation: Yes, that’s the new way to live in times of a pandemic. The way most of us are working from home, we know when to begin our day, but we don’t know when to stop. And that is critical. Now that our offices have entered our homes, we need to understand how and when to separate the two.

2. Back to School-like Timetables: And after all these years, I am finally able to understand why they were there in the first place. But as an adult who has finally got rid of the hustle to reach office on time, it is very difficult to make a daily schedule, let alone stick to it. But trust me, it is worth the effort. Sleeping at 2 am and waking up just 10 minutes before your daily team call at 9:30 am will do no good. In fact, doing that tossed away all the healthy habits I had inculcated in my daily schedule over months!

I know it is easier said than done, and it might take 2–4 weeks to get used to your daily schedule, but once you do, you will feel more productive and be able to have that work-life balance back. Prioritisation is key, but execution of that prioritise tasks is even more important. So don’t make a time-table only to pin it to your desktop or study table, rather make an effort to stick to it for a couple of days and you will feel the difference.

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3. Blinders on!: Our world is filled with a lot of distractions, the most common foe-cum-friend being our mobile. The lust to check out our social media pages every now and then hogs on our productivity and limited timelines. It takes a lot of practice to not pick up your mobile phone every minute, but it is worth the effort. Studies show that staying glued to the screen just before you drift off to sleep causes more stress than your office workload.

However, having said that, I know how difficult it can be especially if we are on phones attending official calls throughout the day. We don’t realise when to put the phone down. From my personal experience, I have been taking a 5–7 minute no-phone break after every long call which lasted for an hour or more. It comes as a breather. You can also try to set personal time limits for online random surfing, provided you stick to it.

4. Connect with Family & Friends: Whether you are staying at home alone, or with your family, lockdown has impacted everyone. While those staying alone might have a bigger battle to be fought, we cannot ignore the struggle of those home–bound with people around. In either case, if you feel that mundaneness has slowly trickled in and captured your daily life, I suggest you try resorting to some activities to break it. Set a certain time to digitally connect with your family, friends, or just someone with whom you can relate and feel like talking to. It is bound to act as a better stress reliever and a great break from work than your online social media activity.

5. Pick up a Hobby: It took me a while, but finally managed to pick up reading just before going to bed and now it is one of the highlights of my day, something to look forward to after a day’s hard work and reporting. Picking up an indoor hobby like cooking, baking, gardening or even painting will give you something to look forward to besides waiting for the next series after Dark to watch on Netflix.

You can even try maintaining a diary to keep a log of your progress made on a daily basis. It will also give a space for you to vent out all the frustration or routineness. For some, that pleasure might be found in maintaining a manual diary instead of a digital one.

6. Exercise or Meditate: It helped me in correcting my sleeping schedule. Besides yoga in the morning in the morning, I take an hour-long walk post dinner, bathe and slip into bed with a nice book and a cup of green tea. It is my technique of self-rewarding for all the hard work I put in throughout the day. For you, exercise could be running, Pilates or yoga in the morning. Meditation can be very helpful in having a peaceful and agile mind if done regularly and consistently. See what suits your body the best and helps you stay mentally and physically fit and include it in your daily schedule.

7. Eat well: Ever since the lockdown kicked in, our eating habits went for a toss. Many of us have been binging on anything that is readily available and seldom working it out. I personally saw my habit of having a healthy breakfast drift away ever since my cook got locked out too. So I looked out for healthier options that don’t require much effort. I resorted to soaked sprouts for breakfast and healthier binging items like fox nuts (makhane) or gram instead of potato chips for that 4 pm hunger call. Or an even easier option, fruits. Instead of gulping down bottles of aerated beverages in this season of high temperatures and humidity, resort to healthier versions like a lemonade and iced tea.

8. Take small breaks: You can take healthier breaks away from the digital screens like grabbing a healthy snack, listening to music, meditating for 5–10 minutes or just reading a few pages from your book; basically any activity that brings you a smile.

You can always look at adopting one or more solutions listed here. Ultimately, it is easier said than done, but the fact remains that it is up to us if we want to create a work-life separation. Since working from home seems to be the new normal and is here to stay, we might as well look out for solutions to make our lives easier and less frustrating.

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