Though the pandemic is no longer forcing us to stay at home, the balance between working at the office and at home will never look the same. This topic has become hotter than ever and shows no signs of cooling down, all thanks to forced lockdowns and the ever increasing rise of jobs that could in theory be performed using a smart-fridge and an internet connection, allowing hordes of people to work from the comfort of their own kitchen.
Sure, many of us probably took our laptop to the kitchen bar table instead, or spent a bit too much time on the couch taking the “lap” part of laptops too seriously. These less than ideal work set ups take a toll no matter how much you love being at home.
Though many do have a dedicated workspace at home, it did not take long for there to appear a divide between how people experienced this shift in the work environment. These days it is not mandatory to stay home and it is hard to ignore many of the benefits that come with getting the job done at your home front. But, alas, these benefits come with trade-offs, you might actually notice feeling bored at home.
First things first, we have nothing against laptops, on the contrary, our ideal envisioned workspace revolves around the laptop entirely. But a laptop by itself is like a superhero without a phone booth. If you haven't done so already, taking the time and effort to create a dedicated workspace in your home can greatly improve the quality of your time spent working.
Which brings us to the following way to make work less boring.
1. If you want it done, make it fun
It might not directly take the monotony out of your work, but the right upgrade to your workspace simply makes whatever it is you’re doing more fun. Unfortunately many people feel like they somehow don't deserve to spoil themselves a little when it comes to work. As if making work more fun makes the entire thing less legit.
“If it isn’t rough and gritty it isn’t real work” - is a not too uncommon mindset.
Even if you’re the type of person who already has an Amazon Prime addiction, ask yourself how you can be more intentional with the stuff you surround yourself with. What can you do, specifically, to make your work more fun? Don’t forget, we spend a third of our lives working! (sad face)
You can take inspiration from social media if you’re short of ideas. Work doesn't have to be dreary to be impactful, you are allowed to treat yourself to a better experience. Maybe you have been eyeing that beautiful mouse for some time now, or put off getting a nicer chair “until…”.
You might be surprised how much easier it is to get in the zone when you have your work area tailored to your heart’s desire. It doesn't even have to be directly related to productivity, changing your ambiance through lighting or music also can have a positive effect. Going from a laptop to a 39 inch ultrawide is like getting into a spaceship, it makes each moment more exciting even after the newness wears off a bit.
2. Get a pet
If you have a pet already, congratulations! If not, there’s a good chance you have been on the fence about it for quite some time. Got all those what if’s holding you back? Well, what if having a pet around could actually increase your productivity? Pets making work at home less boring, duh, but more productive?
Productivity is heavily dependent on your state of mind. If you feel worse, you perform worse. And if you perform worse, you feel worse. You might spend too much time ruminating and letting your mind wander.
Nobody is able to concentrate all the time. Definitely not for 8 hours straight on a monday, the day that holds the official world record for “worst day of the week”. We get distracted and periodically run out of juice with anything we do. If you are going to have breaks or distractions anyways, what is better, doomscrolling, or exchanging love and affection with a critter of your choice? Take inspiration from Judo, let the urge to slack come at you and use that momentum to yoink yourself straight into your puppies arms.
Bottom line. In the case you have a pet you might want to consider making tactical use of them.
3. Work less
We all know about scheduling our time to get jobs done, but what about going the other way a bit and limiting yourself to an extent? We aren’t all so lucky to do the kind of work that basically acts as a time machine, making you wonder where the hours went. If you have trouble getting going, it might actually work for you to set a timer and plan to work around many breaks in-between your work. “But I'm already constantly taking breaks whenever my phone whispers my name” - you might be thinking. That’s right, but the difference here is that there’s distractions, and there’s breaks. A planned break is very different from simply stopping what you’re doing because you noticed a phantom vibration for the umpteenth time.
The idea is to tell yourself you’re going to ignore anything and everything besides work for the next twitter amount of minutes, ehm, the next X amount of minutes. That means no social media, no messages, no emails, nothing besides the task at hand. It is up to you to figure out which number works best for you, but some smart people once determined that the sweet spot lies at 25 minutes.
You can compare this method to mindfulness in a way, each and every distraction must be ignored, including thoughts that pop up. Knowing that you have an intentional break planned just right over there in the near future makes it easier to actually get going and maintain a consistent pace overall. And once you start, you might find yourself entering a flow you otherwise wouldn’t, and end up postponing the break you had planned (which is a good thing).
Granted, this method requires a bit of discipline and the whole idea goes out the kitchen window when time sinks get involved, but it might just do the trick for you. Think of it this way, your work looks a lot less daunting when you tell yourself “I'm going to focus for 20 minutes, and not a minute longer” compared to sitting down in front of your computer and feeling like there’s no end in sight.
This method is kind of a mind-game with yourself, surely you can sit there and focus for only twenty minutes, right? After that, you can take a break for five to ten minutes. Maybe longer if that is what you are more comfortable with, there’s often not a one size fits all when it comes to productivity techniques and their details.
Finally, what is important is that your break contrasts highly with your work. Being at home, you can use these opportunities to do some chores that otherwise would feel cumbersome. This is where working from home truly shines.
Overall, this may sound a little woohoo, but it might just work for you. This method of course, works best when you break down your tasks into bite sized chunks as well. Leading us to the next item.
4. Snack more
Yep, clickbait in the middle of a blog. But if you weren’t skimming through the post you know already what the idea is here. Break down your tasks into the smallest bite-sized snacks you can think of, and ideally use a planning software to keep track of them. This makes it really easy to just look at what there is to do and pick something that suits your fancy at that moment.
Things seem less monotonous when you have literally divided them into parts defined by what makes them different.
This is old news of course, you’ve heard this before, but are you doing it? Maybe you only needed to hear it one more time to actually implement this method. If not, perhaps the following perspective might change your stance on “boring” planning methods.
What if your work had a progress bar. We are so used to progress bars in the digital age. And for good reason, progress bars have a significant psychological effect on us and the way we perceive the wait for things getting done. So why do things contained within your life have a progress bar, but this life as a whole does not? The main answer is that you’re probably not a computer program and it isn't possible to have an actual progress bar tracking everything you do. But if there was, could you imagine finding it easier to sit through whatever it is you are doing?
That is where some of the magic happens with breaking down tasks into very tiny increments, you’re basically doing the same thing a program does when estimating progress. When you see each task on the list slowly turn from gray to green (or strikethrough if you're old school and use pen and paper, which may increase efficiency), you can look at that list as if it is a progress bar of what you are doing.
If you want to make it a little bit more fun or engaging you could open Microsoft Paint or a similar software and literally draw a progress bar and update it according to your estimation of work progress. Or draw a rectangle on a piece of paper and fill it up using a highlighter. Ideally the progress bar is always in view.
5. Ask for help
This is good advice on the workfloor in general; reach out more often to discuss what you're working on, or even, gasp, ask for help with something. Asking for help is one of those things you could arguably consider a life-hack. But many people hesitate or downright feel uncomfortable asking for help. This is only exacerbated by working remotely.
Asking for help has benefits beyond just getting more done.
Asking for help requires you to stay in touch with others, particularly team members. Staying connected to your team has proven mental benefits. We are social creatures after all, and the connection we have with people we work with is not insignificant (that could go both ways unfortunately). Office politics aside, it is no secret that two or more brains have an output greater than the sum of their parts. We suggest experimenting with this philosophy on a daily basis. Make it a rule to ask at least one coworker for help each day. It could be as small as asking someone to take a look at something you did and provide feedback, or it could be a big favor. Maybe you are looking for a certain something or someone and all you had to do was ask the right person and they happened to know exactly what or who you were looking for. You never know!
But wait, there’s more! Research has shown that people prefer giving help rather than receiving it. When you ask someone for help, unless it is an unreasonable request, the likelihood that someone declines is slim. We are hardwired to be altruistic, and for that reason providing help to others feels good. So much so, that the Ben Franklin effect might make someone like you more after they help you with something. It’s a win-win all around.
Do you have any tips or hacks to help you get through the day? Let us know by replying to our newsletter or message us directly at email@example.com.
In case you’re reading this and you are not subscribed, let us know why by subscribing and replying directly to the newsletter.