Being stuck at home is rubbish.
For many of us, the Covid Pandemic means that we’re trapped at home, trying to get our videos planned, shot, and edited while trying not to go stir crazy.
The line between working and playing gets blurred also. It’s all too easy to get stuck in a rut of doing a bit of work on your channel, then giving yourself ‘a break’ and playing a game or mindlessly scrolling through Instagram for an hour.
There are things you can do to make Covid enforced work patterns more enjoyable, however. A few little tweaks to your working practices can improve your mood and productivity when working from home.
It’s worth experimenting with home working practices too. One estimate reckons that 30% of the workforce will still be working from home regularly at the end of 2021.
So to help you better handle the current do-everything-from-home formula, this post has seven tips you can apply straight away to make working from home on your YouTube channel or any other job more enjoyable.
I’ve worked from home for myself for several years now, so I can confidently say that watching morning TV in your PJs while pecking away on your laptop is not the path to a healthy working habit.
Similarly, you may think you’re being clever when your all business up-top for your Zoom meeting, but all bedtime down below out of sight of the camera lens.
You need to treat your work like any other job. That means getting dressed in regular daytime clothes to signify that you have ‘left’ rest and relaxation behind and you are now ready to do some work.
The physical act of putting on a pair of jeans/trousers or skirt is a mental signal that your morning routine has started, and it’s time to get stuff done.
You don’t have to dress like you are going into the office, but you need to make yourself respectable enough to meet people outside of your usual home bubble.
A good rule of thumb is to dress smartly enough not to feel embarrassed when you open the door to the Amazon delivery driver.
The same advice applies to showering and brushing your teeth — at the start of the day, make yourself ready for the day.
You can see how I work from home in my own personal account of my own working from home experience.
We can’t all have a desirable ‘battle station’ like the picture below.
Whether you’re planning your next video, working on a side-hustle, or just doing your conventional job, separating your work and play is vital for your mental health.
It’s also best to separate your work time at home from the rest of the household chores that need doing. Doing a bit of work, then tidying the lounge, then getting back to some more work mashes the day together into one confusing mess.
And while you may already have a place to record your videos set up in the corner of a spare room. Aim to have a particular spot in your home where you sit down to work too.
Desks are inexpensive to buy if you have the room. They come in a variety of sizes suitable for most needs, and if you have the budget buy yourself a proper office chair, too. It helps to encourage a healthy back posture while you work.
If your budget is small, keep an eye on the local ads on Facebook and Gumtree, as you can often find bargains on secondhand office furniture or even snag them for free.
If you absolutely do not have the room for a desk and chair, put a ‘work stuff’ bundle of items together. This can be your laptop or tablet and a selection of notebooks you use. At the start of the working day, set them up in the place you’ll be working in, like the kitchen table, for example.
Then, at the end of the workday, pack them up, and put them out of the way to signify that you have finished working and ready to start some household chores or down-time.
Psychologists call the separation of work and play segmentation. Some psychologists also claim that those who segment their work and relaxation properly perform better in each area.
It’s hard to switch your brain between working and relaxing in an instant — that’s why those who commute to work hold an advantage over home workers. The commute is when a worker can shift their focus on the day’s work ahead.
Similarly, at the end of the working day, a commuter has the opportunity to decompress from daily work challenges as they make their way home.
To segment your work and relaxation time effectively in these Covid times means that you need a method of transitioning between work and non-work — you are going to need to get into some routines and create a kind of ‘commute.’
Routines give us structure to our lives. They can make us more efficient and build up momentum to help hit our goals. So try to create your own ‘commute’ at home to ease into your working routine.
It may be as simple as taking a shower, eating breakfast, then 10 minutes of watching the morning news. As long as you do the same routine each day while understanding, you will be ready to start work once you have done everything.
In a few days, your commuting routine will become a signal to your brain that you are about to enter work mode.
It doesn’t matter what your best working hours are for this tip to succeed. You may be a night-owl and do your best work into the wee small hours — do whatever works for you — as long as you set a pre-work routine to help ease you in and out of work mode.
There is a mental state that some call ‘the zone’ and others name ‘flow.’ It essentially means that you are unaware of anything going on around you while you focus on something. Not time, hunger, or even the need to pee.
You are totally at one with the task at hand.
Getting in ‘the zone’ is easier said than done, but there is no real secret to it. You just need to give yourself space to focus. The enemy of focus is distraction, so you should aim to eliminate all distractions from your workspace.
There is a great book by Cal Newport called Deep Work. It’s all about organising long periods of distraction-free time, so you can enter a flow state and produce your very best work. And it’s worth getting hold of a copy.
What are the causes of work distractions?
One study by a University showed that it could take up to 20 minutes to recover from the interruption of responding to email alerts. So if you are constantly checking your email, you prevent the chance for your brain to settle and enter into the mind frame of a flow state.
What makes the situation worse is having your smartphone within reach when you work as well. People in the US receive an average of 46 push notifications per day on their phones. So, with email and smartphones pinging regularly, it’s a wonder that anyone’s brain can settle down to focus.
Try and cut own as many distractions as you can when you sit down to work. If you don’t need your phone for work, switch it off or at least leave it in another room. There is also a choice of website blocking apps you can install to limit your time spent on distracting websites like Reddit and Facebook.
Another tool that some people find useful to manage productivity is a Pomodoro timer. A Pomodoro timer is a countdown clock that you set to work on a task for a set period. When your selected time session ends, you take a short break before starting the next short working period.
Many people work on a 25-5 Pomodoro system — 25 minutes working, followed by a 5-minute break. After four rounds of 25 minutes, you take a more extended break of 15 minutes. It works because you are only setting the challenge to work for a short time before you take a rest.
The pandemic has many of us glued to our sofa’s binging on the latest Netflix must-watch program like the Tiger King or The Queen’s Gambit. But, being sat on your backside for hours at a time is not good for your back, bum, or belly.
Doctors have called sitting down the new smoking. Inactivity is really bad for our health and can lead to all sorts of long-term problems like lower-back pain, diabetes, and even cancer.
I live in leafy West Yorkshire, close to some old canals. I take regular walks along the canal to clear my head and give my body some love.
Walking is a good exercise to fit into your ‘commuting’ routine, and most can find time to squeeze in a twenty-minute walk when the work of the day is done.
Walking is also a simple way to remove digital distractions. So, get some fresh air and think about your channel. I get all sorts of ideas for video content while I’m away from the desk having a stroll.
If you’re house-bound during the Pandemic because you’re shielding some who is extra vulnerable, then head on over to YouTube. Jo Wicks has a channel that uploads new home workouts several times a week.
You can do all the workouts with stuff you can find around the home, so there is no excuse not to give your body a little TLC and try to keep in shape.
You don’t want to end up like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, hunched over your keyboard pretending to work while descending into madness. But it’s also quite easy for the more introverted amongst us not to make time to have other human contacts every day.
So you should try to find some time for your friends and family now and again. But It’s a tricky balance to strike, as the primary way we keep in contact with friends is with our smartphones, and as I mentioned above, smartphones are awful for our focus.
A new approach is to schedule a time for socialising. How about organising a Zoom lunch with your friends? Set an agreed time that you’ll all eat your lunch, and you can have a natter and a catch-up over a video conference.
One way to be more sociable and work on your YouTube channel is to try collaborating with other YouTubers, which will bring more human contact as you plan some joint content together.
Mental health problems are one of the biggest risks we all face as we endure lockdown. Humans are social creatures, so the enforced home confinement naturally takes its toll on our mental wellbeing.
There are a few techniques you can use to improve your mental health.
Try and limit the amount of news you watch. You should keep up-to-date with the latest developments in your area, but becoming obsessed with increasing daily numbers or the length of time until life returns to normal is not healthy.
If you find yourself obsessing, take a news break for a few days. Trust me, not much changes in a few days, and you can turn your focus to learning a new skill.
Practice touch typing, improve your photoshop skills, or learn about those weird camera functions you don’t currently understand. It’s doesn’t really matter. Finding a new project to focus your mind on can benefit your mental health immensely.
Finally, try practicing mediation. Many assume that mediation is sitting in the lotus position and chanting. It’s not. Mediation is really about breathing. Sit or lie in a relaxed position, close your eyes if it helps, and focus on your breath entering and leaving your body.
That’s all. Just focus on your breath.
Meditation is scientifically proven to reduce stress and control anxiety. YouTube has plenty of excellent content around meditation; Headspace’s channel is an ideal place to start, with lots of content to help you learn how to meditate and improve your mental health.
Yes, lockdown and pandemics are rubbish! But don’t use it as an excuse not to work on your YouTube channel.
Surviving the new normal of working from home means you need to take a little care of how you structure your day.
Set a defined working schedule, and ideally, a place to sit where you only do work. Getting into routines can help your body and mind know when it’s time to work or play.
I hope this post has been helpful. Why don’t you try applying a few tips and see if they can help make you a happier and more productive YouTuber during this Covid pandemic?