Working from home may help us feel a little safer during this time, but that does not mean we don’t feel stressed. It is a delicate balance for us to both keep productive with work and keep our stress levels in check. But there is a way to do both. Simply put, introduce paper into your new work-from-home routine.
"We are all working from home now while also working in a virtual workplace and there is stress in that,” says Holland Haiis, a digital detox and human connection expert, as well as author of the book Consciously Connecting. There are ways “to disconnect or use paper to increase our productivity with work at home and keeping our sanity all while doing this during a pandemic."
Yes, it appears there is a lot of digital noise in our new normal. Along with transferring our jobs to our homes, we are also transferring some unconstructive workplace habits, and many of those are digital. According to the Paper and Packaging Board’s first annual Workplace Productivity Report, almost half of workers feel screen overload is making them less productive and more than half are suffering from digital overload. In fact, more than three in five workers rely on paper as much, if not more, than digital devices to get the job done.
We gathered a few ways to introduce paper in your current virtual work routine that will help make working at home more productive and less stressful for you.
Rely on rituals: Instead of starting your day by opening your email, go old school. “Begin your work day by using a notebook or a business journal to prioritize the top three goals or projects you need to start, prep or finish that day,” recommends Haiis. Just the physical act of writing an analog to-do list does not just boost learning, achieving goals and deepen your focus, but it also can have similar benefits as meditation.
Schedule breaks: When you’re planning your day, be sure you work in work breaks. Employees, even at home, “who take breaks every 90 minutes report a higher level of focus and productivity,” says Haiis. Find a space at home, away for your work station, where you can relieve stress and improve your productivity and just doodle on paper.
And don’t feel guilty for doodling, it’s not meaningless. Just remember, it will improve your work.
Take a digital detox: Though we are using our laptops, smartphones and devices more than ever to keep connected during the work week, they don’t exactly make it easy to disconnect.
At the end of the day, write out a “to-done” list and go over your day and cross off what you have achieved. It is perfect way to disconnect. It would be smart to introduce a digital detox on weekends, too, so set the devices aside and pick up an actual print book and read. Reading, even a few minutes a day, is not just fun, but good for you too!
So, if you want to be more productive and less stressed while working at home, “incorporate more paper products into your day,” says Haiis. “You’ll feel less frazzled, more in control and calmer as the day begins to unfold exactly as you’ve written in your planner.” After all, adds Haiis, “There’s something magical about a brightly colored calendar, a not-so-digital datebook and paper printouts that let you express, ideate and create your next big breakthrough.”