2020 has been one hell of a year. Now with COVID-19 forcing people to go into isolation for God knows how long, we need to brace ourselves and get ready for extended periods of time spent at home. How bad can working from home really be, right?
Working from home has its fair share of benefits! Flexibility with time, freedom to curl up on your sofa to work, and the ability to be productive at your own pace are all some things to look forward to when working from home. However, with all that liberty, some people may struggle to establish a routine or struggle with feelings of isolation if you are used to a busy crowded working environment. Due to the lack of rules and boundaries at home, it is also easy to burn yourself out completely or heavily procrastinate. Practicing self-care, just as you would on ordinary days spent at the office, is extremely important! In order to live a healthy work-from-home life, here are a few tips you can follow;
1. Set your own routine
I know, I know. This sounds...obvious. It may even bring back childhood memories of your parents waking you up early during summer break, shouting at you to set a routine so you're not in bed all day. However, having a pre-planned routine from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to bed can help you organise work-and-play times, avoiding burn-out and procrastination. Unlike a routine set by your school or work-place, you can create your own routine at home! While some people prefer a disciplined hour-to-hour routine, others enjoy a loosely structured one which allows them to tick things off their to-do list.
To create your own routine you can:
- Start by setting an alarm: Establishing a sleeping routine is very important. While you must get the recommended hours of sleep depending on your body and age, setting a reasonable bedtime and waking up early can not only improve productivity during the day but also your concentration and energy levels. However, don't be too hard on yourself! Keep one day during the week where you can sleep in for as long as you want.
- Change out of your pyjamas: For me, the best part about getting home from absolutely anywhere is slipping into my oh-so-comfortable pjs. However, there's something about being in my pjs that makes me want to curl up in bed and binge-watch Netflix all day. In order to motivate yourself and avoid procrastination, change into an outfit that reminds you to work consistently throughout the day. Look sharp, and you'll feel sharp.
-Exercise: Being at home doesn't mean you can't exercise! Whether you want to start your day with a jog around the block or hit the gym mid-day, it is important to squeeze in time to work out. Working out releases endorphins (happy hormones) in the body and makes you feel energetic, setting your mood for the day ahead!
2. Limit unnecessary interaction
How many of you check your phone every 5 minutes either to check WhatsApp or scroll through Instagram? Don't worry, we're all equally guilty. Working-from-home means that you need to make an extra effort to establish boundaries so that you can stay focused during your work hours. You can either keep your phone on DND, switch it off or simply leave it in another room while you complete your work.
3. Create a workplace
In order to establish a boundary between your work life and everyday life, it is important to invest in a workplace. Often, working on your sofa or on the bed can make you lazy and demotivated since you'll be stuck in one room all day. Designing an actual "workroom" or "study room" can help you build an environment where you focus and complete your tasks for the day. You can make the room as fun or as boring as you want, depending on whichever environment you work best in! However, keep in mind the following:
- Privacy: Create an office away from distractions, noise, or anything that will disrupt your work time.
- Cleanliness: With COVID-19 on the rise, make sure to keep a sanitizer handy on your desk at all times. Decluttering and keeping your workplace clean can also increase clarity and productivity. Make sure to clean out all loose papers and coffee mugs at the end of the day. Otherwise, it may be easy to get overwhelmed!
- Practicality: While aesthetic is all we live for, it is important to keep practicality in mind when picking out a desk, chairs, and other furniture that will help you focus. Make sure to invest in supplies that will aid your progress and not your distractions!
4. Take advantage of your freedom
While setting a routine is a must, don't forget to suit yourself in the process. One of the best things about working from home is that you can work on your own terms! Make sure to give yourself some space- if you want your Fridays off, arrange your week accordingly. Similarly, if you prefer to work out in the morning and start work later in the day, all you have to do is arrange your schedule. Whatever you do, make sure you're comfortable, focused, and energetic.
5. Soothe your anxiety
While there is no blanket rule, sometimes working-from-home can cause anxiety. It may be because of the current COVID-19, a lack of structure, feelings of isolation, the need to prove your worth, or simply because you struggle with the work-play balance. Whatever the cause for those underlying feelings of panic and hysteria, take a moment to occasionally check in with yourself and give yourself some time to get back into the game. Here are a few tips to deal with your anxiety:
-Limit caffeine: While coffee may be your ride-or-die, it is important to not overdo your intake of caffeine. Stick to one or two cups a day to avoid a jittery feeling.
-Follow the 3-3-3 rule: Whenever you feel like your mind is going 100 miles an hour and will explode, take a deep breath and look around yourself. Name three things you see. Name three things you hear. And finally, move three parts of your body slowly. These can include your arms, ankles, neck, or even your fingers. This mental trick will help slow down your breathing and bring you back to the present moment.
-Distract yourself: To get away from the toxic thoughts or emotions that you may feel in the moment, give yourself some space to disconnect for a little while. Watch a funny video, or take a cold shower to calm your nerves. Once you feel calm and collected, go back to the problem at hand with a fresh pair of eyes.
Whatever happens, don't forget to believe in yourself! Listen to your mind and body, and treat yourself every once in a while. Be it with a piece of cake or a snappy movie- don't be too hard on yourself!
Did this help you get some structure for your day? What are your top tips for caring for yourself when working from home? Tell us in the comments below.