In work mode

When you don't have the choice of being in a state of niksen and need to be productive, it's best to have your wits about you
Last Updated 21 April 2020, 10:11 IST

Slipping into your jammies and hammering away on your laptop just doesn’t get most of us into the work-mode within the often-boisterous confines of our residence. Here are ways to create your own productive nook to make sure you continue to work in a safe, collaborative way from the cocooned safety of your home, especially in these testing times.

Choose your spot

Working remotely allows you the bandwidth of picking the area in your house where you wish to work from. Prioritise comfort, says Pankaj Poddar, co-founder of Hipcouch, a Mumbai-based interior design company. “Make use of the spare room if you have one, as it lends you privacy and a low disturbance zone to be able to make your work-related calls and transcribe interviews. If you prefer working at night when the family is asleep, then making use of the dining table is a good idea too,” he adds. It brings in adequate elbow room and run on area for working on multiple projects at the same time.

Set the mood

Says Aradhana Dalmia, founder, The Artemist, an art consultancy firm in Kolkata, “You can bring in a few motivational quotes on the soft board at your study table to feed on. Quirky prints tacked on, or even a beautiful family photo collage to boost your energy levels through an infusion of colours work well in creating a happy, personal workspace. The idea is to create a single focus work zone, with pleasant, fringe accents.” Try and station yourself by a window to break the monotony of staring constantly at the screen.

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Prop up

Skip the stools and bean bags and skirt working from your bed as this makes way for undesirable slouching. Pillow prop ups are inadequate in offering proper support for your back. Show yourself the love you dish out easily to others. As the hours fly while you tackle office correspondence, prepare presentations galore and write out assignments, it is important to give your spine the proper recline as well. “A well-designed, ergonomically-sound chair is vital as it keeps backaches at bay,” says Pankaj. Says Akriti Desai, life coach, “The art of niksen — doing nothing — clears your mind. Begin on a blank slate by starting a no-think routine for at least 15 minutes. It heals you at many levels and betters productivity.”

Energise the space

Do what it takes to create a cheerful nook. “You can bring in potted plants by the window for a rush of green to soothe and put you in a good mood, or play your favourite music: it ushers a breath of fresh air into your workspace,” says Aradhana. Bring in elements that appeal to you in terms of subtle colour pops. It helps to personalise the spot as well as rev up your efficiency.

The nocebo effect

Nocebo effect is a harmless thing that causes harm because you ‘believe’ its harmful. The same is happening due to panic of the virus. Few people are falling prey to the virus due to the same nocebo effect.

Social scientist and secretary, Corepeeler Foundation, Achal Sharma, believes that the nocebo effect is possibly more powerful than the flu virus, in that, it compromises your immune system before you’ve even had a chance to catch the actual virus. "What happens to your external environment is not under your control but, your response to it, definitely is," he adds.

"Your mind is the best tool for assisting you in the prevention and the cure of the virus. As your mind controls the energy flows in your body and when you are in a state of panic, it tends to weaken your immunity system, as endergonic energy reactions in your body tend to release cortisol – the stress hormone. However, as you think positive, the reverse reaction takes place and you can fight the virus with better immunity. Should you even get affected with the virus your positive thinking will help you heal faster," he suggests.

So be the placebo and not the nocebo. Use this virus to go viral with the idea that communities can support each other and work together to eliminate threats against humanity – not just the coronavirus but all nocebo-like thought-forms.

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Don't mess with the circadian cycle

Nutritionist food coach Anupama Menon believes that in the face of this global crisis, the danger to a healthy lifestyle that one has achieved may begin to cause some concern. Even as this is a small problem, we could use this self-quarantine more effectively.

Do not disrupt the circadian cycle, as once you come out of the self-quarantine, you will be sleep-deprived, feel heavier, lazier and will be hustled into your routine which will be as tumultuous as it was before, if not more. She suggests:

♦ Get your sleep, in order. With so much time on your hands, it’s easy to develop a good sleep routine for yourself. Sleep by 11 pm and clock in at least 7-8 hours of restful nidra.

♦ You are at home with food available at your disposal. Plan your meals and eat right, eat clean. Eat at the right intervals. Do not eat in-between meals. These are the basic rules – most simple, most effective, too. Drink enough water – you don’t have to now climb floors to get to the loo.

♦ For those who haven’t tried the intermittent schedule of eating, now maybe the right time to experiment. I do not advocate 16 hours, but 12-14 hours is doable for most. On the pretext of intermittent fasting, you could eliminate late-night eating.

♦ Exercise could be back to the basics... skipping, dancing at home (this could be so much fun with the family), floor exercises, crunches, and functional exercises.

♦ Self-driven exercise routines aren’t stressful. They can be regular and quite effective. Stretch yourself well, walk around the house as you talk on the phone and catch up with friends and family.

♦ Limit your alcohol consciously to three servings a week – just as you may have done when you were socially active or even less. Now there’s no one to force you to have that “just another drink”.

♦ Let’s use this time to catch up on sleep, give our body some much-needed rest, spend more
quality time with family, cook, eat without hurry, look out the window, self-introspect,
explore possibilities of redesigning our life and taking those important decisions we had
pushed for lack of time.

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Roll the dice

Coronavirus’ greatest threat besides the obvious health risk is maintaining one's sanity during the period of quarantine. Indeed, it is a very difficult period but with some creativity and loads of patience, it can help us re-connect and bring back family time. A pair of dice decides our fate in most traditional games and the same can be taught to our children during this forced containment when some things are beyond our control.

Moksha Patam/ Snakes and ladder

The 13th-century poet saint Gyandev created a children's game called moksha patam which was
later changed to snakes and ladder. The game was invented to teach values to children with
ladders being the positive values and snakes the negative ones. It taught players
the valuable concept of success and elation as against failure and disappointment and helps in building
equanimity within us.

Five stones or pebbles

One can pick the pebbles from anywhere and voila a game is ready. The game of five stones is believed to have originated in ancient Asia, during the Siege of Troy in 1184 B.C. Five stones is played by two or more players. This game of aidu kallugaḷu involves a set of eight steps and needs to be completed within a minimal time. The game becomes progressively difficult. Besides dexterity and eye-hand coordination, it teaches us patience as we get our turn only when the previous player defaults in the game.


This game is played on a rectangular board with 2 rows and 7 columns. There are a total of 14
cups (kuzhi in Tamil language) and 146 counters (cowries/ seeds). As the game proceeds, each
player distributes the shells over all the pits. The players may capture the shells, as permitted by
the rules of the game. The game with multiple variants ends when one of the players captures all
the shells, and is declared as a winner.

Name, Place, Animal, and Thing

What a wonderful way of discovering the knowledge we possess and also the world around us by
playing with one another in this beautiful game that combines knowledge with the added
advantage of ‘recall.’ Players need to write a name (of a human), an animal, a place and a thing that starts with the letter that you choose. For every correct answer, the player is rewarded 10 points. Having a good
old Atlas beside us can help us wean from our usual technological dependence. The final points matter.

The last letter game

One of the variations to this game is players agree on a category from which they will name words. Once the category is established, the first player says a word. For example, if the category is Indian cities, the first person might say “Bengaluru. The second person must begin the name of another city using the
last letter of the first city, e.g., Ernakulam. The same game can be played without category.
Keeping a dictionary at hand would also help them search for a word.

Armed with just a chalk piece, a pair of dice, a few cowries, pebbles, paper and pencils
combined with an attitude to make the best of the situation these traditional games among others
can fetch us some relief from boredom and bring together generations within a household. It
can also teach us to play with others rather than compete with ourselves in the nether world of
games or play stations.

Chandrika R Krishnan

(Published 30 March 2020, 13:50 IST)

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