Thanks (or rather, no thanks) to a global pandemic, working from home has become commonplace for an ever-increasing number of people. While the initial benefits sound alluring (stay in your PJs all day, work from bed, play whatever music you like, etc.) it can quickly get distracting. With the trappings of home all around you, switching between home and work life can be tricky to master. Without the physical location of an office, it’s important to set up the proper boundaries and rules to help ensure you remain as mentally healthy as possible and procrastinate less.
Get professional about time management
The hardest part about working from home is knowing when to “clock in” and when to “clock out”. In an ever more connected world, the lines get blurred with regard to our time. It can become far too easy to start getting sucked into work emails at all hours of the day (and night). That’s why setting some rules as to when you aren’t working are just as important as deciding when you are. When you’re constantly checking your phone and racing to respond to company emails, your brain doesn’t get the chance to adequately turn off. Proactively block off time in your calendar that you can use for whatever it is that helps keep you centered. Whether that’s finding time to work out, working on personal creative projects, organizing your closet, or reading a new book, keeping your sacred time sacred will keep you fresh for the important things.
Start dressing for work again
While most of us probably don’t miss rushing out of the house to battle our daily commute into the office, there’s something about that ritual that signals our brains to start the workday. While we’re not suggesting you sit in your car for 45 minutes every morning lamenting traffic to yourself under your breath, dressing as if you’re still heading into the office can be helpful. Start to make a routine out of selecting your outfits or create your own themed calendar that goes beyond “casual Fridays”. Getting back into the habit of prepping your day with a morning routine can help get you in the proper mindset for a busy day of work ahead.
Break down the steps to success
Has this ever happened to you? You start your first video conference call at 9 am and next thing you know it’s 4:30 pm and you’ve barely had time to eat, use the bathroom, or get any actual work done? In the absence of face-to-face time in the office, it’s easy to over-index on video calls to help fill in the gaps of remote work. While this is a wonderful way to stay connected with your team and co-workers, it can quickly snowball leaving you both mentally fatigued and with little time to accomplish your actual work. To combat this, make sure you’re taking regular breaks throughout your day. Enroll your team in ending 30-minute meetings 5 minutes early and hour-long meetings 10 minutes early. While this extra bit of time might not seem like much, it will go miles towards giving you a chance to collect yourself and grab a quick snack or a bathroom break before having to jump on the next call.
Fuel the beast
Just like any good workout, you can’t expect to be operating at your best if you aren’t eating properly. When you’re bouncing from call to call and trying to manage your workload in between, it can be hard to find time to eat the right things. Typically, the quickest options aren’t always the healthiest, and foods high in salts and sugars can lead to the inevitable crash later in the day. Take some time to prepare some meals or healthy snacks at the beginning of your week or on the weekends. Tossing some pre-prepped lunches into reusable containers that you can keep in the fridge make mealtime not just quick and easy, but help ensure you’re getting the most nutrients to keep you operating at your best.
Explore the studio space
Whether you live in a studio apartment, a house, a converted garage, a condo, or off the grid, creating a dedicated workspace for yourself is a must. You don’t need to have a plethora of extra space in order to make something that functions as your nouveau office. It can be as easy as setting up a standing desk at the kitchen table or as elaborate as kitting out your spare bedroom with a complete home-office makeover. Just create something that helps tell your brain that it’s time to switch to work-mode when you get there.
Limit your phone time
Bottom line, we all spend too much time on our phones. When you’re working from home it becomes all the easier to start swiping through the latest Instagram or TikTok content when you’ve got a spare minute or two. While taking time to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of work is a good thing, it can quickly become an overwhelming distraction. Nowadays, you can set limits on how much time you spend on certain apps throughout the day. Start setting boundaries for how often you’re swiping through content that keeps you from being as productive as possible. Or for a low-tech solution, just put your phone in another room while you’re crushing your work.
While working from home can have its ups and downs, taking a few extra steps can help you get the most out of your time. Finding the proper balance can be tricky at first, but understanding what you need to stay mentally and physically healthy makes it much easier to prioritize the things that matter most.