RESOURCES

Apr 24 2020 12 Work From Home Tips To Stay Productive and Mentally Healthy

Remote work or work from home is not entirely a new practice especially in western workstyles but here in Japan, it is not that common to have that option. However, due to the recent pandemic, the Japanese government declared a nationwide state of emergency as a strategy to slow down the spread of the virus. This has forced many companies to switch to telework.

Although work from home lets you do your job from the comfort of your house, it can be difficult to remain focused and reach 100% of your productivity level. We have gathered some tips for you to remain productive and stay mentally healthy while working from home or doing remote work.

1.) Set a Work Schedule

Some days you wake up extra motivated and you can get carried away buried under your work. It’s nice to be in the zone and push yourself once in a while to get things done. However, being at home makes it more difficult to set boundaries between your work time and your rest time. If this habit continues, it may drain you and cause stress. Setting up a work schedule (that is in line with your official company work-from-home hours) and sticking to it, creates a healthy and stable routine to ensure productivity while keeping your mental and physical health in check. Working overtime from time to time, especially when you are on a strict deadline, is acceptable as long as you do not overdo it and if you do have the urge to keep working because of new ideas, you can always write reminders (some do it over an old fashion checklist and others like to have self recorded reminders) to work on it for the next morning.

2.) Have a Morning Routine

One of the perks of working from home is the extra time you have to sleep in a little bit longer than usual, which is great! But it does take time to warm up and be in work mode. It’s best to have a good morning routine that sets the mood of your day. You may not need a lot of effort to jump out of bed and go straight to your work computer but you still have to condition your mind and body that it’s time to get productive.

Here’s a sample routine one of our team members shared:
-Check your phone to see if you have messages from family or friends
-Drink warm water with lemon
-Do simple stretching/quick yoga
-Have a quick shower
-Eat a hearty breakfast

Each person may have different morning routines and we suggest that you find one that works best for you.

3.) Stretch & Exercise

Since you work from the comforts of your home, you also eliminate traveling to your office and even going out for lunch, if you are a person who usually eats out. This also means that you spend more sedentary time just sitting in front of your work computer. You should make time to exercise before or after your work to get your blood flowing and get your body to release endorphins to have a more positive and productive day. If you are not big on heavy exercises, you can also squeeze in stretching exercises all throughout your day to avoid neck and back pains.

4.) Break time

Again, it can be easier to get lost in your work since you don’t really have any colleagues present to remind you that it’s lunch time or even ask you for a combini (convenience store) run. But it’s still important to eat on time and give yourself a breather. One of the perks of working from home is that you can have a cheaper coffee or tea break on the comforts of your home office.

5.) Dedicated Work Space

There can be a lot of possible distractions available when you do work from home. It can come from people or objects that are present in your house. The challenge with working from home in Japan is doing it in a tiny, cramped apartment, which is usually the norm especially in Tokyo. It’s best to set up a simple workstation that is clutter free and away from noise and distraction. It can even be a simple desk away from your television, as long as you keep it nice and tidy to keep distractions out and remind you that you are in your work zone. If you do live with other family members or roommates, it’s always best to remind them that you will be using that specific area for your designated work space to avoid having people make noise near it or just walking back and forth in the background.

6.) Turn of Certain SNS Notifications on Your Phone

It is easier to play with your phone and get distracted when you are working from home. It usually starts with a notification and you just want to check it out but you end up spending 30 minutes to an hour on it. It’s best to turn off unnecessary notifications from certain apps, like Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, etc. that might distract you from your work. We don’t really advise setting your phone to completely silent just in case there is an emergency and someone is trying to contact you. But for certain notifications that you don’t really need while you are working, it’s best to turn them off.

7.) Checklist or To-Do-List

Having a sense of direction is really important to keep your goals in check. It determines how realistic your goals are, and what you aim to achieve within a week or even within the day. Creating a checklist or a To-Do-List will help you track your progress. It also gives you a sense of accomplishment everytime you finish an item and tick that box.

8.) Prioritize the way you communicate with your team

One of the greatest challenges when it comes to working from home is effective communication within the team or when working with clients and other outside organizations. Even with the help of the latest technology, you still need to work on how to become an effective communicator and which tool works best for the situation. It is also easier for misunderstandings to occur due to written communication, and the lack of body language and facial expressions involved. Slack messaging, Emails, Zoom, Skype, voice call or whatever the medium is, remember to be mindful of the situation and think of the best medium to communicate to avoid confusion, misunderstandings or redundancy.

9.) Explore online skill building opportunities

Having more control and time in your hands also enables you to find ways to upgrade or gain professional skills. There are a lot of online tools, lessons, resources and even webinars that you could take on. Take this opportunity to use your flexible time and gain skills that you will need to take your career to the next level. It doesn’t even have to be related to your current work. If you have certain interests that you have been wanting to try, now is the best time to work on it and learn a new skill.

10.) Make time to socialize and check up on your colleagues

Even if physical interaction is limited and social distancing is advised. Do not forget that you are still a part of a team and that building great rapport and relationships with each other is crucial to make a team work! You are encouraged to chat and ask your teammates how they are doing outside of work topics. You can even set up virtual game nights or an online zoom coffee break or lunch break. It’s a very challenging time for everyone, especially those who are away from their family and living alone. Checkup on them and ask how they are doing once in a while.

11.) Taking Sick Leave

If you are sick, you should not work. Some people are shy to take a personal day off or sick leave when they feel under the weather because they feel guilty, since they are already doing remote work. Continuing to work when you are sick helps no one. It doesn’t help you and it doesn’t help the company either. You won’t be able to function and be as productive as your healthy state when you are sick, so it doesn’t make sense to push yourself that hard. You should always put your health as your top priority. Focus on getting better and then you can come back and kick ass at work!

12.) Celebrate Your Originality!

From all these tips and reminders of staying productive and positive, always be reminded that all people are different. Some things may work for you and some may not. And that’s okay! You will also have days when you feel down, and some days when you are an idea machine, full of energy and enthusiasm. It’s definitely a difficult time. No one could have exactly predicted this situation, and no one knows when it will end, but we always have to celebrate the little wins and keep going. Just keep doing your best and find what keeps you motivated.

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