As a result of the current Covid-19 pandemic, many of us are now finding ourselves spending more time at home than ever before – whether we’re working from the comfort of our home offices, or simply taking some time out.
The extra time is a privilege in many ways, giving us all the chance to focus on our health and wellbeing and reassess what we truly want out of life. But, with the fridge, the sofa and the TV all within just a few metres of us, wherever we are in the house, staying fit and focused during this period can prove more of a challenge than we may have thought.
So, if you could do with a little direction to help you to keep your motivation up and your waistline down – because here at LLM, our health and fitness experts have pulled together some top tips to help you use this time wisely, and have you come out of it feeling fitter and healthier than ever before.
Avoid the coffee
If your morning coffee is the only thing that gets you going and ready to face the day, then you’re not alone – but relying on caffeine to keep your energy levels up throughout isn’t the healthiest choice. Make a better one and opt for an all-natural brain booster. Taking nootropics in the UK is very popular right now, and with good reason – the right nootropic can act as a cognitive enhancer and energy booster, helping you to process information faster and focus better. And its plethora of benefits doesn’t end their, either, because they even have the power to help reduce your anxiety levels and aid memory. Just the sort of safe, healthy, all-natural boost you could do with when motivation and productivity wanes.
Create a clutter-free dedicated workspace
When you’re working from home, it’s all too easy for it to creep into all corners of your life, so avoid letting this happen by creating a dedicated workspace – even if it’s just a small table and chair – to separate the professional from the personal. If you’re not used to working from home, then a home office may never have been a priority before – but it’s essential to separate work from play to maintain the right level of balance in your life.
According to scientists at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute, decluttering helps us to focus more effectively. Our brains like order and visual disorganisation reduces our ability to concentrate and drains cognitive resources. Other studies have shown that a cluttered home and workspace is more likely to lead to procrastination, as well as coping and avoidance strategies, such as watching TV and snacking on junk. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to Marie Kondo that workspace.
Dress for success
While there’s nothing wrong with jogging bottoms and jumpers for those days when you feel the need to comfort dress, showering and dressing for work helps to maintain a sense of routine and set the tone for the day.
There’s no need to dress for the boardroom, but putting on an outfit that’s a little closer to what you’d normally wear in the office can help put you in the right mindset for work. Business casual tends to be much more productive than dress-down Fridays!
As organisational psychologist Cathleen Swody says: “Dressing pulled together helps us feel pulled together. Research has found that people feel more competent when wearing business clothes.”
Create a schedule
Create a calendar that works the way you do. If you’re the kind of person who likes to organise your day right down to the minute, then go ahead – but, if you prefer to go with the flow, there’s no need to over-schedule yourself. Even so, having a rough plan for each day and week is an effective way to ensure that you stay on track.
Ensure that your plan reflects your natural energy – don’t schedule conference calls at the end of the day when you’re trying to wind down, for instance – and the same goes for during the mid-afternoon slump. Likewise, if you’re more creative first thing in the morning, block that time out to brainstorm.
Your productivity will improve no end as a result – but be sure to set an allotted time for social media too to help you avoid falling down the social media rabbit hole for hours at a time.
Here’s something else to factor into your calendar: exercise. Just as you would your meetings, schedule in some workout time, too. Pencil them in at work-friendly times, such as before you start work, at lunchtime or after hours. Once they’re on your schedule, they’ll be harder to ignore.
Aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. Exercise is a natural feel-good drug, releasing endorphins that help to relieve stress and boost our mood – which in times of stress or worry, is essential.
Take plenty of breaks
Talking of exercise, short bouts of physical activity count towards your weekly quota. Stay active with gardening, dancing, playing with the children, online exercises classes, even doing the domestic chores. Go for a walk, or take the dog for one; do some yoga, practice some mindfulness exercises. Any of these will help to get the blood pumping around your body and sharpen your focus.
Ideally, try to reduce the amount of time you spend sedentary each day – whether by standing up every so often (ideally every 30 minutes to an hour), walking around the house a few times, or heading outside to get some fresh air. All of this will help to strengthen your stamina, fitness and focus, keeping you primed and ready to be productive.
When you’re working at home – potentially just feet away from the fridge and kitchen – it’s easy to get distracted by food. Stock up on healthy snacks, especially if you’re someone who likes to graze throughout the day. Remember that what you put into your body directly translates into the amount of energy and focus that you have, so opt for water rather than sugary or alcoholic drinks to stay hydrated and avoid an energy crash, and snack on foods containing plenty of B-vitamins, such as dairy, eggs, meat, seeds, nuts, some fruits, dark leafy vegetables or whole grains, which are great for boosting your alertness, energy and concentration. Limit your salt, sugar and fat intake too.
Don’t neglect lunch breaks, either. Studies have shown that when you’re mindful of the meals you eat, you enjoy them much more and feel satiated, to schedule in a break and really focus on your meal as you savour each bite.
Get enough sleep
Finally, to maintain tip top fitness and focus while working from home, getting a decent night’s sleep should be a priority. Science tells us that 7-9 hours a night is the sweet spot – anything less, and you’ll likely suffer from forgetfulness, anxiety, irritability, and poor concentration. Poor sleep is also associated with weight problems, depression and a lack of productivity.
Eating healthily, sleeping well, keeping moving and creating an ideal workplace environment are the keys to staying fit and focused while working from home – and best of all, the situation gives you unparalleled flexibility to arrange your personal and professional life in ways that work best for you. So, by scheduling in both work activity and time to yourself, you’re guaranteed a successful quarantine that you will come out of feeling even better than when you went in.