Simple Tips to Thrive When Working from Home
More people are working from home than ever before, and while it comes with some convenience – no commute and a more relaxed dress code (Zoom meetings aside) – it can also present some challenges.
For some, working in the home sees unhealthy habits creep into their workday, disrupting focus, motivation, productivity, and resulting in work stress spilling over into personal time. These are common issues, especially for those who find themselves suddenly working from home for the first time.
Here are some tips to cultivate healthier work habits while at home – and set you up for success in your work-life balance.
Designate a Formal Workspace
Flopping on the sofa with the laptop can seem tempting some days but is NOT the most effective way to get your head in the game. Designate a space in your home specifically for work, so when you sit down it sends a clear signal to your brain that it’s time to focus. Consider investing in a stand-up desk so you aren’t sitting the entire day or make sure you have an ergonomic chair that will help you maintain good posture and prevent body aches.
Make the space comfortable, clean and free of visual distractions – ideally in an area separate from your living space, although that may not be available. The important thing is to establish a physical location – one that allows you to step away from household duties and patterns when you sit down to work.
Keeping distractions at bay is key in helping you to stay focused – unfortunately, home is loaded with them.
Start the workday with a to-do list, giving you a clear action plan of items to tackle throughout the day and a visual reminder to keep you on track.
Try out a working-rhythm approach. The “Pomodoro Technique” – where you work for 25 minutes and then break for 5 – has been found by some to be effective in reducing the impact of internal and external interruptions that break focus and workflow.
Consider investing in some noise-cancelling headphones (that fit over the ears for comfort and quality) if household or neighbourhood sounds are frequently interrupting your work.
Avoid mindlessly scrolling! Shut down social media tabs and keep your phone in a separate area of the house when working unless it is needed to make calls.
Remember – everybody loses focus from time to time, but don’t be discouraged. The best way forward is to stop, reset and refocus.
Separate Work and Life
Adhering to a regular daily routine can keep you “in the zone” and define clear boundaries between working and down time.
How you start the morning can help to define your mindset for the day, aiding in mentally transporting you “to work”. A morning workout, a shower, or even changing into a fresh set of clothes can all help with the transition. A walk around the block could serve as your psychological “morning commute” to work.
It’s just as important to define designated “no work” times to ensure you can commit to yourself and your family – and don’t burn out. Assign yourself regular daily work hours and keep expectations and boundaries clear with co-workers: set your status accordingly in work chat apps, and only send emails during business hours.
A wind-down routine after work can ease you back into your life. Consider repeating your around-the-block commute at the end of the workday and step away from your computer. If you don’t have a designated room you can shut the door to, pack your workspace away so it isn’t distracting you from being present with your family, or your personal life.
Weave in Self-Care
While organizational tips can help with a healthier home working environment – intentional acts of self-care throughout the day are important to manage stress, bolster morale and keep working from home sustainable.
Try to avoid the too-much-caffeine-and-sugar trap. It might seem like you’re treating yourself to a quick pick-me-up with a donut or a third latte, but too many “coffee breaks” can be disruptive to blood sugar levels and trigger anxiety – the last thing you need.
Instead, prioritize eating nourishing foods throughout the day. Certain foods can support mood and a focus on whole, unprocessed fresh foods like fruits, veggies, healthy proteins and fats provide a solid nutritional foundation.
Prepping healthy snacks the night before means you’ll have fast, healthy options throughout the day without breaking your flow to prepare foods, and a water bottle at your desk helps support a healthy hydration habit which can help with focus and prevent fatigue.
Also try to eat mindfully, with structured snack breaks and a scheduled lunch, so you can enjoy your food and have a mental rest.
Omega-3s are a great supplement to have on hand for supporting cognitive health and mood – among other benefits. Your local CHFA member retailer offers a wide selection of quality, omega-3 fish oils and can help guide you in choosing the right one for you.
You may find that some of the stress-relieving tips you used in the workplace are just as effective when working at home. Regular meditation breaks, breathing exercises or even stretching can release stress, to keep you calm and energized throughout the day.
Make a Connection
Sometimes, hearing a voice can be encouraging – especially during times like these. Consider opting for a phone call or a video chat instead of an email from time to time, to feel more connected to your colleagues.
When you do have conversations, share the challenges and successes you’re presently facing – you’ll likely get some support, commiseration and find that you’re not alone.
Whether your working from home situation is short-term, or you’re in it for a long haul, it’s important to make your health and happiness a priority. Mastering a positive, productive mindset when working from home isn’t easy, but some effort into structure, balance, boundaries and self-care can help set you up for success.