For more than two months now since the national government has imposed community quarantines over most of the country, some of us have been given the privilege to work from home (WFM). Suddenly, our home sweet home has become the extension of the company office, where virtual meeting happens and where we also beat deadlines. 

Adjusting to this #NewNormal is not easy. Even though home is where the heart is, being stuck in the same place for a long time is not healthy. Some might have even experienced or are experiencing cabin fever, with the “irritability, listlessness, and similar symptoms resulting from long confinement or isolation indoors.” 

According to COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and Its Implications, the lockdown may cause adverse effects on the mental health of 34 percent of adult individuals worldwide. 

So how can we protect our health and, at the same time, be productive in a WFH setup? In a media conference, Google productivity expert Laura Mae Martin gave five useful tips to answer this question. 

Laura Martin

Laura Martin

1. Redefine productivity

According to Laura being productive doesn’t necessarily mean accomplishing a long list of tasks.  “Productivity isn’t always about checking things off your to-do list. But rather it’s about setting the right intention of what you would like to achieve and do well,” she says. “If you think about productivity as setting out to do something and doing it well, that could be considered a productive day.” 

This even includes watching our favorite shows or even reading books!

2. Set boundaries

The Google expert encourages everyone to set up a specific area in our homes that will serve as our personal office. Outside that area, work related stuff should be prohibited. “Have a spot where you’re working and avoid bringing your laptop wherever you move around your house. Your brain works on something called state dependent recall, which means it associates the sights, smells, and sound of a certain spot with whatever you’re thinking about,” she says. “It’s the main reason why a lot of authors write their entire book sitting in the same chair, sitting in the same coffee shop, because their brain associates the book with that spot.” 


3. Plan ahead

She also says that planning our tasks the night before will help a lot in accomplishing them the next day. “Plan what you’re going to do the night before, hour by hour if you can,” she continues. “It would make you so much more accountable because it serves as your guide and your contract with yourself.” 

4. Take advantage of the time

If there’s one advantage in a WFH setup, it is the fact that we no longer have to deal with the challenge of a daily commute, which wastes a lot of our time in a heavy traffic. Laura says that we should use this time to do things that we’ve been planning to accomplish before or to make time for ourselves. “Is there something you’ve been wanting to do for a while? A new training? Something that requires focus? Now is the time!” she says.

5. Be mindful of your home setup

“Working from home doesn’t mean working all the time. So when you invite work into your home, think of it as a guest.

If you are inviting a guest at home for a couple of months, which you’re essentially doing with work, you wouldn’t invite your guest into your bedroom or spend all day with your guest,” Laura says. “This is why it’s important to build your boundaries and be intentional with your time. Be mindful of floating around with your devices in places like your bedroom or relaxation spaces.” 

Source: Manila Bulletin (