For the last 10 years, every Friday morning, I scroll through my list of academic websites and collate the very best psychological research on face-to-face human interaction. The insights are always fascinating and provide me with the content to speak, train and write on how humans can better connect, interact and communicate with each other. It’s a subject I call Meetology.
However, I come across other insights too.
Invariably I’ll stumble across articles that contain ‘evidence-based self-improvement strategies’ and I’m pleased to share a few of the strategies behavioral science suggests may help you through this unsettling period—especially if you are one of the millions working from home.
1. Dress for success
Avoid lounging around in your PJs or overly casual clothing. Research into “enclothed cognition” is fascinating and suggests wearing the same type of clothes that you would in the office could put you in a more productive mindset.
2. Create a (familiar) routine
Create a structure to your day. Get up at the same time you normally would and, if possible, try to replicate your office schedule at home—for example, have your mid-morning coffee and lunch at the same time. Scheduling regular meetings (via video) at the same time as you’d generally have them in the office may prove useful, too.
3. Create deadlines
Deadlines can serve a positive psychological function when it comes to getting things done. One of them has to do with what psychologists refer to as “goal gradients”—the motivating fact that the nearer you get to completing a task, the greater the proportional impact your effort has on completing the task.
Starting a project can lead to the “Zeigarnik effect” which can aid against procrastination. It links to the human desire to finish something we’ve already begun and explains why when buying a coffee, you often get a card with two or three of the ten stamps already in place that you need to claim your free one. These few stamps drive us to obtain more in order to complete the card, showing that these types of motivations really do work.
4. Design your environment
While not possible for everyone, having a specific room from which to work may help. Research suggests that going through a doorway can trigger memory loss and disassociation with current thoughts. It’s a phenomenon called an “event boundary”—look it up, it is fascinating.
5. Switch off
Once finished for the day, avoid logging back on and checking emails later. Now more than ever, you’ll need to be able to mentally switch-off from work. (My dad used to have a sticker of a light-switch in the brief-case which reminded him that when he shut the case and left work, he needed to switch off mentally too.)
"It's not about being obsessively positive, but it is about being optimistic."
Join me in a 6 mile run down Route 66 in these tough times as part of #activeapril and training for #IMEXstillrunning #eventprofs #coronavirus #CoronavirusUSA #tulsa #Oklahoma pic.twitter.com/h02DVr7Mgf
— Jonathan Bradshaw (@Meetology) April 15, 2020
The physical and mental benefits of “regular to you” exercise are huge. Finding time for a walk or run can have a hugely positive impact. With this in mind, I created an #ActiveApril program on Twitter and am also training for the fantastic #imexstillrunning initiative in May.
I hope these prove of use and wish everyone the very best at this difficult time.