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As someone living in a third-world country who decided to go remote some 6 years ago, I've seen "remote" go from being seen as scorn to an option to an absolute necessity (thanks to the pandemic, of course). I love the remote life, and while the driving force for today's adoption of remote culture is unfortunate, I personally couldn't be happier.
But the sad reality is that remote . . . just . . . isn't . . . woking for everyone.
Just as there are job functions that demand proximity and can't be executed remotely, there are people who feel unhappy and constricted in this new way of life. If you are one of these people, you know what I'm talking about — the days seem dull and long, you suddenly don't have as much ambition or motivation, you're tired of typing for 90 minutes when 5 minutes of conversation would've done the same job, you find video meetings tiring (Zoom or not), and so on.
Well, there's nothing anyone can do about the current, forced necessity of remote work, but if you identify with the above, I have some tips to help make your life easier.
We've all been preached to about the perils of a sedentary lifestyle. As if our habits as modern-day workers weren’t bad enough already (remote or not), the pandemic pushed them to new heights. Not only are we working from home, but we're also not even leaving our homes!
But as they say, the body and mind are connected, and a bored, aching body results in a bored, aching mind.
So, what to do? If possible, set up your workplace away from your home. This way, you can fake the office routine — get up, get dressed, pack stuff and lunch, and leave for the "office". It can be another apartment you've rented, or your friend's place, or a co-working place (one following all the necessary protocols, of course), or some other arrangement that allows you to move out of your home and work from a different place.
And just as the day ends, you call it a day and go back to relax, study, etc. There are two main benefits to doing this — you get much-needed body movement and you get a change of sights and sounds. These alone will bring about a massive shift in your remote experience.
But, of course, it may not be possible for everyone to manage another place for work. If you’re one of those, I suggest you read on!
Things we often passionately hate are usually our biggest friends. Take routine, for example. The word itself evokes images of dull, depressing work being done over and over. And yet, without a predictable and sensible routine, our life falls apart rather quickly.
One reason remote work is getting worse by the day might be that your time management and routine have gotten out of hand. I mean, when you get out of bed, it's easy to feel that you can continue on that task "later", and for now, maybe do nothing or carry on with that Netflix series. You know the drill, right?! The thing is, putting things off builds pressure, and as we set into the cycle of procrastination, it gets worse.
The fix? Carving out a routine, of course. It's easier said than done, but as long as you make sure there are plenty of breaks and a few guilty pleasures in the mix, you're very likely to stick to it. Remember, there's no perfect routine, and there's no use in copying someone else's. Create what you think works for you, and allow for some deviation now and then.
You'd be amazed how much even tiny changes to your work environment affect your mood. For example, removing all the clutter from your desk can make you feel far more productive and in control. So, one cool hack you can use is to keep making changes to your work environment.
Here are some ideas:
You get the point. There's nothing stopping you from trying something new, which in itself is highly rewarding.
A related idea is to change the place where you work. Instead of festering in that same damp room forever, see how the stairs work for you! Or maybe the kitchen. Or the balcony or the lawn. The idea is not to work in the same place for long hours but to keep moving and break the monotony.
The importance of sharing our feelings cannot be understated. Even the most jaded, self-proclaimed introvert has a friend or two to talk to in their dire moments. And here's the problem with remote — no matter how much you spice things up, sooner or later the loneliness will get to you.
During these moments, calling up your friends and telling them how much life sucks right now can be a much-needed release. Or maybe talk to some distant relative or school friend you never caught up with and ask them how they're doing; listening to their life's troubles will likely shift your mind from your own. You can even have parties over Zoom as you pick your poison.
But if all this doesn't work, or you find yourself not wanting to do any of this, talking to a counselor isn't a bad idea either. This is not to say you've developed a mental disorder; those conditions are far more serious. It's just that every now and then our psychology can go a bit off rails, and human beings aren't able to get back on track on their own. These tend to be short-term affairs, ending as soon as the person is able to get a hold of their drifting mindset.
Ewwwww, right?! It's hard enough to find motivation for exercise in normal times, so what hope do we have now? Probably none, but that's not the point; the point is that exercise has a direct link to the mind and is thus more important now than ever.
And I'm not even talking about replicating your one-hour gym sessions (or 3-4 hours for the bodybuilding freaks) or doing marathons. Anything you do will help, no matter how little. Start with a 20-minute daily walk if nothing else comes to mind. Or perhaps, order some simple exercise equipment (such as balls, bands, light dumbbells, etc.) and tune into your favorite fitness channel/podcast to carve out a short but effective program.
If all of this sounds like a lot of fuss, start even smaller. Like, ten jumping jacks three times a day or some five-minute yoga. Or chair yoga. Or just some old-fashioned stretches to free up your body and make you feel better. I'm telling you, don't underestimate the reward-to-effort ratio of stretches (speaking from personal experience here) — just a minute or two spent stretching properly will make an astonishing difference in your life.
Another cool idea is to get a so-called standing desk. While I can't advocate for standing eight hours straight, alternating your working posture between sitting and standing is a great way to stay healthy (and alert on the job!).
One great idea that combines taking a break, having fun, and fulfilling your need to socialize is online gaming. Now, gaming gets a bad rep from pretty much everyone, but in these times, has been a life-saver. So, select a game, log in with your friend(s), and have a blast as you either annihilate them or get pummelled!
I recommend you to play games that allow the creation of a separate lobby. This way, you and your friend can explore the game world at peace and set up whatever rules you wish. On a public server (paid or not), things are different. Wave after wave of players will pass by, destroying your experience and adding stress that you wanted to escape from in the first place!
Now, which games to play is entirely up to you. For small numbers (2-4 people) Chess can be a great idea as you banter and do your best to prove yourself. Fortnite, Among Us, Dota 2, PUBG, etc., are some popular games that come to mind (if you have good hardware), but there's no need to be restricted to these only. Just search for multiplayer games on maybe Steam or Google and you'll come across many hidden gems!
Honestly, there was never a better time to start a new hobby. And I'm not even going to suggest any particular hobbies to pursue. Think deeply, use Google if you're confused, find an online trainer, invest in the thing, and just get started.
Just know that no hobbies are out of bounds of learning because we're all online. Right from playing musical instruments, cooking, acrobatics to woodworking and God knows what else, people have found creative ways to help others develop. Plus, these regular interactions with your teacher serves as a "social" connection we so badly need in these times.
I could go on and on with ideas, but frankly, I don't want to write that much and you don't want to read that much 😉. Hopefully, now you have an idea of the general strategy —
As long as you make changes around these three fundamentals, you'll find that remote is not just bearable but pleasant. Besides, it won't be long before this dark phase will be behind us and you'll be able to get back to your beloved way of life!
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