With the spread of COVID-19 throughout the world many of us have now been tasked to work from home for the time being. We may have experience working from home for a day or two here in there due to a winter storm or another reason; however, it is an entirely different setting when you are working from home for an extended period of time. Below are some tips to keep sane and productive working from home.
- Keep your routines. Try to get up and go to bed at the same time you normally did when working from the office. Yes, you no longer have the commute which you can use the time to exercise, make breakfast or help your children with their at-home schoolwork. Shower, shave and follow your morning and evening personal hygiene routines. This keeps our mind still aligned with our natural rhythms and prepared to tackle the day or in the evening prepared to sleep.
- Get dressed! It may be tempting to work in sweatpants (or no pants) and an old tee shirt all day; but there is much to the saying in order to “play the part you need to feel the part”. You can forgo the suit but get in the routine of wearing an appropriate work outfit to get your mind and mood ready for work.
- Set up a specific work station that is just for work and you can spread out. You need to create an office nook so that you can keep your papers and other needed items in one place and create a “workspace”. Ideally if you can close the door and have a window; however, with tight spaces and possibly multiple people in a residence working from home even carving out a corner of the living room to be your work station can help.
- Always make your to-do list at the end of the business day for the following day. This is good practice even when we are not working from home! Creating to do lists keeps you on track for tasks and goals you need to complete and having a fresh one every morning lets you start the day ready to roll instead of trying to get yourself going.
- Change positions! Every 1-2 hours, move your laptop to another place (for those with the luxury you can try working from another room or an outdoor space for an hour). This is good for your body and a change of scenery is the closest replacement for socialization.
- Schedule breaks and take them! It’s too easy to work through lunch when you’re on a roll (same as in the office) but it’s important to LEAVE your workspace. Get some fresh air ideally, go for a walk, do some stretching exercises or anything that helps you turn off your mind to work for that full break when it’s possible.
- Stay hydrated! Have a large glass or bottle of water at your work station and every time it is empty you get up from your station and refill it. This is a great way to keep yourself hydrated and allow yourself to take a quick mental break. Try to also maintain a healthy diet working from home. It is easy to be drawn to the sugar and salty snacks when they are so close calling your name! Try to have healthy snacks around when possible.
- Work your scheduled hours when you can. If you work 8-4 or 9-5 you should keep to that schedule (unless it is not possible or you are on-call). It may seem easy to check your email or voicemail all the time because your workspace is so close, but you want to avoid burnout and having definitive work and personal time is vitally important.
For many employees working from home for an extended period of time is going to be a challenge so make the commitment to keep following a routine, communicate with your supervisor and colleagues and take time to debrief, relax and center your mind and self away from work after hours. Once we return to office work we will really appreciate the noise and chatter after this journey.