Save for the occasional grocery run, the fact that you’re trapped in your own home should be sinking in now.

For many, the laws of social distancing has involved turning their sacred personal space into a home office. As the COVID-19 virus  continues its romp around the world, work spaces have been encouraged to let employees work from home to quell further spread. 

If you thought you were in for a breezy few stress-free time away from the prying eyes of your boss, we’re here to tell you that that joy will dissipate within your first week. Yes, working from home has its perks; you’re physically away from office politics, you don’t have to shower (although you should) and you’re there to accept deliveries, but it’s only a matter of time before your productivity makes way for hunger, boredom, and everything in between.

Before you start losing your sense of self, it is actually possible to keep it together while staying productive at home, and it’s actually surprisingly easy. Here are some tips on how to set yourself up for work-from-home success in the long run.

Establish a routine

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As much as we love lounging around all day in plush robes, this ensemble won’t work so well for this new home office life. Having a routine that’s similar to the one you had prior to this viral fiasco is key to ensuring that you accomplish your daily tasks without losing your mind. 

Depending on your mental tenacity, this could range from setting an alarm at an appropriate time to even getting dressed as if you were going to the office. As long as you’re not dressed for sleep throughout the day, you’re halfway on the road to productivity. This obviously also includes brushing your teeth and taking a shower.

Create a safe space

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This is going to be a space that will be specific to the type of work that you do, whether you need a quiet environment for processing financial data or a dynamic spot to fuel your creativity in. Unless you thrive in chaos, decluttering your work space — whether in the living room, kitchen, or closet — will ensure you don’t get easily distracted. 

You’ll also need to ensure the space has enough electrical connections (duh) and — if you’re the human equivalent of a plant — plenty of natural light. Burn a candle or two if you need to. It’s also useful in the long run to choose furniture that’s as ergonomic as possible so body aches aren’t an excuse for poor productivity. If your work requires video calls, take some time to ensure that the art or decoration on the wall behind you is appropriate.

Get structured

Creating a list of actions for the day can help you get through the tasks at hand without constantly stressing about your progress or lack thereof. 

Instead of bombarding your to-do list with a million little things, make the agenda look more achievable by prioritising five of the most pressing tasks, so you approach the day in as calm and collected a fashion as possible.

Schedule breaks

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Just as how you would sneak off every couple of hours to gossip or skive in the bathroom at the office, it’s imperative to schedule breaks while working at home. This could range from making yourself a quick snack, getting some fresh air around the block, or squeezing a quick yoga session in with one of these apps.

It’s easy to stay locked in position all day while working from home and sitting is detrimental for your health, not to mention terribly mind-numbing. That being said, this isn’t a ticket to a “quick” catch-up of your favourite Netflix sci-fi show. Unless your work requires the constant drone of the stock exchange in the background, the telly is off-limits. 

Prep your snacks

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Whatever diet you think you’re on is going to be in jeopardy without proper planning here. Grabbing the first chocolate bar or bag of chips you see to alleviate the mid-noon sugar crash will be very tempting, so clear your pantry out and keep healthier snacks on hand instead. Carrot and celery sticks with hummus, nut butter with toast, or even one of these immunity-boosting drinks are great alternatives to unhealthy snacks and sodas.

Create an imaginary co-worker to blame

Working with your partner or family members hovering around constantly can get very stressful because someone is bound to get on your nerves eventually. Instead of pointing fingers at the people you love over the dirty mug on the counter or a misplaced document, create a fictitious colleague (works better if you name him/her) in the house to blame everything on. It’ll not only give everyone a good laugh but also delay the inevitable WWIII at home. 

Log off completely

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Now that you practically live in your office, it’s hard for the brain to recognise when it’s okay to fully shut down. One of the most important aspects of a successful work-from-home routine is creating boundaries. Giving yourself a cut-off time and strictly abiding by it will not only motivate you to work faster during the day, but also give your mind time to rest and reset after a day’s work. Even if you come up with a million-dollar idea after “office hours”, jot it down and revisit it the following day. 

Shatricia Nair
Senior Writer
Shatricia Nair is a motoring, watches, and wellness writer who is perpetually knee-deep in the world of V8s, tourbillons, and the latest fitness trends. She is fuelled by peanut butter and three cups of coffee a day.