5 tips productivity and mental health tips for remote workers | Business
Working from home can provide a sense of freedom, but it can also transform your home into a stressful environment. If you’re working in a hybrid format or fully working from home, it’s absolutely vital to look after your mental health and manage your productivity.
To help at-home workers, experts at Joy Organics have compiled their top tips based on information on stress.org, the American Psychological Association, Emolument, the Department of Labor, and the Association of Psychological Science.
Tip 1: Take a break
Get away from your work every few hours. Focusing too much on work may cause your mind to freeze up and feelings of burnout or anxiety can set in.
Unfortunately, only 11 states mandate breaks for workers, and Pennsylvania is not one of those states. Pennsylvania businesses are only required to give breaks to employees between the ages of 14 and 17 who work five or more consecutive hours.
Still, if you can manage to take some time away from your work, take a little walk around the block for a brief, uninterrupted break.
Even a short break can help your brain settle and better cope with stressful situations. Research from the Association of Psychological Science suggests that a 10-minute break for every hour you work is a good balance to maintain productivity.
Tip 2: Don’t take on too much
“Hustle culture” encourages us to take on every possible task and maintain a constant state of activity, but it’s a nightmare for mental health and doesn’t necessarily increase productivity. Taking on too much work is a huge contributor to stress and depression, and one little setback can spell disaster as you become buried under a mountain of unfinished tasks.
You have a finite number of hours at work, so don’t take on a week’s worth hoping to get it done in a day. Set boundaries and know when to focus on the work you already have.
Working extra hours is tempting when your computer and phone are always within reach, but if you’re taking business calls and firing off emails every evening instead of having dinner with your family, it might be time to reconsider your current work-life balance. Separating your work life and private life is one of the most important skills for remote workers.
Consider putting work-related apps, email inboxes, etc. onto a different screen or browser session. Microsoft Windows has a “multiple desktop” feature that can be handy for this. Switching between your normal desktop and your work desktop can simulate “going to the office” and keep you from turning your online window shopping time into more work.
Tip 3: Communicate with your team
Having another perspective is useful for lowering your stress levels. Talking to your team or a manager alleviates the feeling of being lonely and means that you can solve problems faster.
Feelings of isolation are much more common in remote work, but there are ways to alleviate those feelings.
Instead of struggling with a project alone, ask for a quick meeting or an informal chat to have another set of eyes on it. Reach out to other team members and organize a brainstorming session. Be aware that communication does go both ways and you should be available to help others just as they help you.
Tip 4: Set small objectives
Looking at your work as a huge single object is daunting. Those feelings of dread can feed into depression and anxiety. Splitting up your work into manageable chunks will make things easier.
A simple way to do this is by using Stephen Covey’s four quadrants of time management approach. This method uses four categories:
- Urgent and important – unforeseen events and urgent matters
- Not urgent but important – smaller tasks that won’t affect your deadlines
- Urgent but not important – meetings and phone calls
- Not urgent and not important – checking social media
Tip 5: Get a good night’s sleep
When you’re tired and low on energy it becomes harder to concentrate. Getting at least eight hours of sleep each night will allow your brain to rest and you will be better equipped to deal with whatever the workplace throws at you.
Before going to bed, you should do something relaxing and not stare at a phone screen or catch up on work. This helps to signal that it’s time to sleep. If you do use a screen, using an app like f.lux can change the screen color to produce less eye-straining blue light.
A spokesperson for Joy Organics commented on the effects of stress on work:
“According to a study by stress.org, more than 50% of workers are not as productive at work due to stress, and 39% claim workload is the main cause.
Workplace stress can affect anyone, but research has shown that women must contend with their hormones on top of everyday stresses. In fact, 57% of women reported feeling burnout because of work stress, compared to 48% of men.
It’s important that companies work towards more inclusive workplaces that have a healthy work-life balance and manage employee stress by being transparent.”