Pro tip: How to reduce stress and increase productivity while working remotely

Finding it hard to focus on the job while working remotely?

The longer the COVID-19 situation drags on, the more and more of us are going to feel disconnected. It is easy to get distracted when you are in your own home, surrounded by your family and everyday household pressures.

Plus, of course, there is Netflix, YouTube, the news, and social media.

Staying focussed on a spreadsheet can be challenging. Not only are there many more entertaining things to do, but also the concerns over a global pandemic all around us can be stressful.

Fortunately, there is something you can try that has been proven to both cut stress levels and increase productivity. Stand up.

A recent study tested workers on the job in various environments, and it determined that standing up while you work – or even walking on a treadmill desk – is beneficial for your brain-boosting your productivity and reducing stress levels.

Researchers at the University of Queensland monitored a test group of workers who were assigned three different desks: A traditional sitting down desk, a standing desk that allowed them to work standing up, and a treadmill desk that had them walk slowly while working at the same time.

Brain activity was measured using electroencephalography (EEG) cap to assess attention during computer tasks, and saliva samples were taken to measure stress levels.

“We found people who use activity-promoting desks were more able to focus on urgent tasks, avoid non-urgent tasks and manage stress better than people sitting at a desk all day,” said study author, Dr. Nicholas Gilson.

You’re less likely to fall into an Internet rabbit hole of mindless surfing or scroll aimlessly through social media feeds if you are standing up at your computer, rather than sinking into an easy chair.

“The workers who used standing or walking desks allocated attention most effectively and had lower levels of cortisol – known as the ‘stress hormone’ – in their saliva,” Dr. Gilson explained.

If your workplace isn’t equipped with standing desks, it might seem strange to suddenly be standing up while your coworkers are all sitting at their computers. However, this period where many of us are working remotely can be a great time to experiment. Got a high counter? Stack up some thick heavy books? Improvise a standing desk and tackle one of your least interesting work tasks. See what it does for your productivity.

Better yet, if there is a treadmill in the house, why not put it in front of a stand for your laptop. Get some steps in while you do your job.

For the record, I researched and wrote this piece standing up. I did not veer off to check Twitter or read the news. Seems to be working.

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