Over the last few weeks, students and adults alike have been challenged to shift their day-to-day work to their homes. Meetings are now virtual video chats. Classrooms are video hang outs. Lectures are live recordings. And the rest of the day? We are working hard to stay focused and productive, and we are doing it in a place where we usually relax and unwind.
In this transition to working from home, all of our daily routines, habits, and organization have been shifted. What used to be automatic for us now requires additional brain power. Simply walking to a meeting down the hall now requires extra time for technology set-up and research on how to run productive online meetings. Quick check-ins at school lockers, in the classroom, or at the lunch room now requires each person to seek out individuals in creative ways to stay socially connected. Learning new skills and routines takes energy and focus. So, we have less cognitive energy to focus on our tasks.
This kind of shift in our daily life requires strong executive function skills. Executive function skills help us filter distractions, organize information, and prioritize tasks. They help us set and achieve goals and control our impulses.
Most importantly, strong executive function skills allow us to mentally shift our perspective, change our mindset, and adapt in an ever-changing situation.
Start with your space.
In order to set yourself up for success in the future, you must first take control of where you are in the present. Executive function skills start with yourself in your current space. Take a look around. Is your space serving you in the way you need it to? Is your space setting you up for success in your day and week? Is your space reflective of your goals? Is your space promoting efficiency?
Here are 5 tips to re-organize your work space for increased efficiency:
1. Set up your space. Designate a space for you to get work done. Keep it clean and organized.
2. Set expectations. Have some “real talk” with yourself. When you are in this space, you will be productive and complete your tasks. Communicate your expectations with others in your house for clarity and accountability.
3. Gather the essentials. At the start of each day, anticipate what things you will need to complete your tasks for the day. This may include your computer, cell phone, head phones, water, etc.
4. Identify and remove distractions. Depending on your space, you may need to be creative with how you will remove distractions. Be sure to address known factors (e.g. working at the kitchen table during meal times) and anticipate unknown factors (e.g. constant check-in texts in a group message thread).
5. Set boundaries. Be clear when you are working and when you are taking breaks. Take breaks away from your work space to clear your head. This helps your brain identify when you are in work-mode versus relaxation-mode.
Jenny Traver, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS
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