With millions of people still unable to make it to their offices in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, many entrepreneurs are likely spending this week working from home. While working from home is a reality for many, it can be a difficult adjustment for those who are used to the collaborative environment of an office. Toronto-based psychologist Amanda Beaman, who specializes in anxiety disorders, says natural disasters and events that are out of our control tend to heighten uncertainty, causing us to feel anxious and can negatively affect our productivity.
Use these tips to ensure your workday at home remains productive:
1. Be conscious of unproductive worry. During times of stress, you may find yourself forecasting into the future and worrying about hypothetical situations. Beaman says focusing on "what if" situations is unproductive worry. "It’s unproductive because there’s no real problem yet that can actually be solved," she says.
Be conscious of your thoughts and focus only on the concerns that are within your control. "When you notice yourself engaging in that pattern of thinking where it’s really unproductive, say to yourself: 'this is not a problem I can solve right now, so I’m going to delay thinking about this for now and return to what I was doing',"says Beaman.
2. Make a plan. "Human beings respond well to structure," says Beaman, who argues most anxiety issues are caused by interruptions in routines. Making a plan for your day can help you to regain structure. "Break up your day into small chunks and set some specific goals for yourself," says Beaman.
Goals not only help to provide structure to your day, they also help assess your accomplishments. Take care when setting your goals that they’re attainable, especially if you’re dealing with technology shortages. "Recognize that you may not be able to accomplish what you normally would when you’re in your office," says Beaman, and set realistic goals accordingly.
3. Reward yourself. "Having things to look forward to at various points of the day can be helpful [in combating feelings of uncertainty]," says Beaman. Schedule rewards into your day. Whether that means enjoying a cup of tea or watching a television program you normally don’t get to watch during the workday, these rewards can help you feel calm about the situation.
4. Communicate with your family. Working from home changes the family dynamic, especially if children are home from school. Create a plan for your family and discuss it together at the beginning of the day. "Be assertive enough to communicate what your needs are," says Beaman. Plan how you can get your quiet work time and offer kids rewards for being good participants.
Offering a pizza night or a family game night if kids play quietly, allowing mom and dad to work, not only gives them something to look forward to but can help calm their own anxiety about the situation.
5. Fight feelings of isolation through relaxation techniques. In addition to the change in your routine, you may also be feeling cooped up and anxious about not being able to leave your home. Make use of relaxation and meditation techniques such as yoga and deep breathing exercises to calm your nerves during times of heightened insecurity.
Related: 7 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Now