Coronavirus: Do you study or work? Tips to be more productive during quarantine | Economy

Before March 15, 2020, only the 4.3% of Spaniards worked remotely, almost one point below the European average (5.2%). The next day, there were millions. The quarantine imposed within the package of measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic caused citizens and companies in countries spread across the world to radically transform their work or academic routines. Once the first month has passed, and with the horizon of another equally long period ahead, it is worth wondering if the adaptation has been as effective as it should be. Did we perform less, equal or, on the contrary, more than when we physically attended class or the office?

The challenge was (and is) complex, because it's not just about studying or working from a different location. A home does not have to be prepared for work or intensive study, there are numerous distractions and, in many cases, it also requires reconciliation at previously unknown levels, due to the indefinite closure of educational centers. A change that can also end up affecting not only concentration and performance, but other fundamental aspects such as personal life or people's own health.

Going from having a completely defined day (getting up, taking public transport to go to study or work according to certain schedules, or to the gym on specific days), to having a more flexible one or even without marked hours or dates can have consequences. “When we are in a non-work space, we can easily relax, and that our cognitive processes are not as active as expected when we receive stimuli from environments related to concentration and performance tasks. Do you study the same at home as in the library? Do you work just like watching all your colleagues work? ”Asks Nuria Cros, expert in third-generation therapies at the Ypsi Psychology Cabinet. “By working from home, potential distractors increase. TV, computer, a visit to the fridge ... Anything goes for us, right? And the most dangerous is the mobile phone ”.

One of the factors that can most influence our performance is, without a doubt, the emotional management we make of the crisis. Although, for Cros, the greatest psychological and cognitive impact of confinement does not usually appear now, but at the beginning, "when we receive a stressor and a radical change in our lives and we need time to adapt." As the weeks go by, one learns strategies, no matter how hard the circumstances are (for example, due to the loss of family and friends).

The problem appears when our resources are neither adequate nor sufficient (denial, excessive pessimism, substance abuse, poor sleep hygiene, eating disorders, poor management of marital problems ...). "This deficit in management tools (or in the subjective perception of having them) can lead to disorders of the spectrum of anxiety, depression, prolonged stress that leads to exhaustion, sleep problems, apathy and a long list of psychological problems. ", Add.

Routines to improve performance

If you want to be efficient and productive, The first aspect to consider is that of the organization. Even if we are going to stay home, we should take a shower and dress as if we were going to go to the office or university (and change our clothes when we finish). A simple routine that, in addition, can help us separate the working day from leisure time, and prevent us from ending up working more than we should. The next is “Create an agenda for the day with the objectives and the tasks to be carried out, to maximize your time and get an idea of ​​how much time you will invest in everything, ”explains Shelley Osborne, vice president of Learning at Udemy. Put them in order of priority, and do not forget to disconnect the mobile or put it in airplane mode, so as not to be distracted by social networks.

Choose well where to study or work it is essential. It should be away from the rest of the people in the home, to concentrate with hardly any distractions, and also from the areas "where life is usually done at home, such as the living room or bedroom, and especially the bed, since then it will cost you more to sleep and could have an impact on your health ”, argues Osborne. Make sure before you start that you have everything you need at your fingertips, and not underestimates the importance of correct posture.

If you work and have several meetings, try to group them so that they are not a source of interruptions and you can enjoy some continuity in your tasks. And finally, "Try to expand communication channels for which you can be available, both with the people to whom you must report, and with those with whom you work hand in hand. Communication must be fluid in all directions, and better with activated laptop or mobile cameras ”, he points out.

Manage breaks well

It sounds contradictory, but it is not: to perform better at work or in studies, you have to rest frequently. Spending eight hours straight on it can backfire. "It is better to stop every two hours and take a short break to meditate or do some pleasant activity such as reading, listening to music, having a coffee or even going for bread ...", remembers Raquel Moyá, psychologist and companion of Cros . "And don't forget to take care of your body's motors: sleep well, eat healthy and exercise. Surely you can get 10 minutes a day to move, even if it is indoors. There is no excuse".

When the day is over, think about what you have done and what you can feel proud of. This will increase your motivation for the next day. And if you fancy a whim, it's time to give it to you. “Reserve what you like so much for the end: a bonbon, a hot shower, open that bottle of wine, put on calm and relaxed music, read the novel that has you hooked, or watch that chapter of the series that you like. The prizes at the end! ”Advises Moyá.

Of course, spending hours of rest is not good either. If working too hard can lead to anxiety, getting too much rest can lead to procrastination. And let's not confuse rest with doing nothing: lying down and inactive for many days, makes it easier to enter a vicious circle of apathy and anergy, ambassadors and precursors of depression. Rest can also be doing an activity.

Sleep hygiene is essential

The lack of fixed schedules to go to sleep and get up seriously affects sleep hygiene and, consequently, the quality of study or work. “Often patients tell us that they sleep one day 13 hours, another day five, and others spend a nap. All this has a negative impact on the body, both physically and mentally, "says Cros. Sleeping well means charging the batteries of all cognitive processes. It helps us to perform better both physically and mentally, and improves our mood.

But what can we do to achieve a good quality of sleep? From the study of Psychology Ypsihablamos, Cros and Moyá suggest a complete and simple routine to put into practice:

  1. Get up and always go to bed at the same time (including the weekend). Try not to have differences of more than an hour. Regulates the sleep-wake cycle by repeating a time pattern.
  2. Use the bed only to sleep. In the bedroom, avoid eating, studying, working, watching series or looking at your mobile. The bed is for sleeping, and our brain needs that association to be stronger than ever when we are restless about something, like this confinement.
  3. Maintain a suitable environment: Dim light, with a comfortable mattress and pillow, isolating the room or ourselves from sound. Make your bedroom a dream temple full of signs that induce this process.
  4. Avoid napping (And, in exceptional cases, it should not last more than 20 or 30 minutes). Too long will make it harder for us to fall asleep at night. It looks like a drawer, but if you are rested, how will you sleep afterwards?
  5. Do physical activity during the day. Staying active will make us get to bed more tired and have less trouble falling asleep.
  6. Avoid large meals and / or stimulants. If we take a stimulant, try to always be before five or six in the afternoon (the duration of the effect of caffeine is about six hours).
  7. No bright lights two hours before we go to sleep: Melatonin, which is the hormone that regulates sleep, works with light signals. If you are looking at the mobile screen when your brain wants to shut down, you are reactivating the waking process.
  8. Follow relaxing routines before bed: brushing teeth, showering, putting on pajamas, having a massage with moisturizer, drinking a hot infusion or playing soft music. It can also be applied during nighttime awakenings.

Relax to be efficient

Once the day is over (work or study), disconnect and try to develop the rest of your day regardless of those obligations; Separating your personal and leisure life from the professional one is of vital importance to have your own space. The Guide to remote work Fremap emphasizes, among other things (such as the importance of careful and healthy eating), the importance of correct relaxation for emotional well-being (and productivity), and proposes some simple relaxation exercises and breathing that can improve concentration and decrease the level of tension; some practices that we can also do during one of the breaks of the day. In turn, remember that "if at the end of the job, you continue using display screens, you accumulate visual and mental fatigue. Therefore, dedicate a period to change to other activities that do not imply that."

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