'Working From Home' Has Taken Over My Life. How Do I Get It Back?

·1-min read
Photo credit: Rowan Fee
Photo credit: Rowan Fee

According to data from business support company NordVPN Teams, we’re now working an extra two hours each day – and working from home has a lot to do with that. As UK unemployment levels reach a four-year spike, taking your foot off the gas might not feel like a viable option. But there’s a simple way to streamline your day without risking a P60 coming through the post: quit multitasking.

Writing a report while prepping for a meeting might seem time-effective, but the mental demands of switching back and forth will stack up. The same goes for replying to emails
in the squat rack. “Task-switching interferes with both tasks,” says Professor Joe Devlin, neuroscientist at University College London. “Schedule time for crucial tasks, including exercise and socialising. And turn off your notifications.”

When you pause to read a Slack message or check out a new Instagram follower, it takes roughly 23 minutes for your mind to re-focus, the University of California found. “Switching back to the original task means reloading information into your working memory, and configuring your mind afresh,” says Devlin. “The problem is that interruptions often provide tiny rewards. Tweets, likes and memes all cause squirts of feel-good hormone dopamine.”

Try rewarding your hard work at random. “You could literally flip a coin and if you see heads twice in a row, boom – you get a treat,” says Devlin. But don’t do it after every task. “Intermittent rewards provide a stronger motivation through larger dopamine release than predictable rewards.”

So, if you’re struggling to clock out on time, neutralise your notifications and hack your reward system with a well-timed YouTube break.

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