by Dr. R. Kay Green | Featured Contributor
This year, many have transitioned from an office job to a Work From Home (WFH) lifestyle in order to protect themselves from the COVID-19 pandemic. And while there are many benefits to a WFH setup, including no commute and access to your own kitchen, there are also several challenges.
No matter what happens in 2021, the WFH Lifestyle is not likely to go away. Here are some tips for creating a long-lasting and productive WFH routine during the COVID-19.
- Keep “office hours.” Since you are working from home, it can be tempting to work at random hours in the day. But this can lead to resentment and burn-out. Once you are done with work for the day, be done with work for the day. Your emails can wait until tomorrow.
- Do not do house chores during work. Just as you need to respect your personal hours, you need to respect your work hours as well. You would not be worrying about laundry or vacuuming if you were working from an office, and you should behave the same while working from home.
- Have a space dedicated to work. It is a lot easier to ignore the dirty dishes in the sink when you are not staring them down while you work. Having a dedicated office space is critical to a long-term WFH lifestyle. If you cannot have your own office, at least take a moment to consider what your desk is facing, and remove anything that may be distracting from your line of vision. Also, do not use your work desk for personal hours.
- Know when you are most productive. One of the benefits of a WFH set-up is, for the most part, you are not confined to a 9-to-5 schedule. If that is what works for you, then by all means stick with it, but do not be afraid to experiment with different hours if you feel like that might be more beneficial to you.
- Create a routine. Having a simple ritual that you do when you start your workday can help you to get “in the zone” and transition from your home self to your work self. For some people this is as simple as drinking a cup of coffee, while for others it might be as complicated as walking around the block to simulate a “commute.” Having a similar ritual at the end of your work day helps in reverse.
- Personalize your work space. WFH allows you the freedom to personalize your workspace as you please. Do not be afraid to have fun with this – surround yourself with things that make you feel inspired and productive! Make your workspace a place that you want to be in every day.
- Make sure you are comfortable. “Comfort” means different things to different people, especially when it comes to clothing. Some people are comforted by the routine of getting dressed up professionally, and find that is what helps them be most productive. Others enjoy the freedom of being able to work in pajamas and find that they are able to focus even better in loungewear. Wear whatever is most comfortable and productive for you, and make sure to invest in a comfortable office chair as well.
- Invest in good headphones. This is especially critical for people in shared households or noisy apartments. Headphones help to block out unwanted noise and keep you from getting distracted by the things that take up your non-work hours. There are plenty of free white noise websites and videos online – look around and find the one that works best for you.
- Invest in a good firewall, too. While you are making sound WFH investments, cybersecurity is also a huge concern. You will be doing more than ever from your computer, so make sure that both your information and your clients’ information stays protected.
- Take breaks. In stressful times (for example, the middle of a pandemic), we are at a higher risk for burnout and anxiety. Regular breaks allow you to check in with yourself and make sure that you are not pushing yourself too hard. Take a few minutes to get up and moving every day.
- Find ways to socialize. If you are used to in-office culture, you may have relied on “water cooler talk” to fill in a lot of your needed social interaction for the day. During this pandemic, it is still possible to get that through messaging apps such as Slack. Do research to see what might work best for your team.
- Stay on top of communication. Communication is one of the biggest challenges during a transition to WFH. Make sure you are staying on top of emails and that you return phone calls promptly. Also, regularly check your inbox to make sure that you are not letting anything slip through the cracks.
- Keep a to-do list. With the change in location, you might find keeping up with time management harder than before. Keeping a to-do list, either on paper or through an app, can help you stay focused and on top of what needs to be done.
- Exercise and stretch regularly. Staying active is important, especially when you are cooped up in the house all day. Remember, you are not getting the regular exercise that you might usually be getting, walking around the office – and while these are small moments, they add up for your overall health.
- Eat healthy. This goes hand-in-hand with the last tip. A healthy body means a healthier mind, and that is something that we all need in stressful times like these. Having access to your kitchen makes it easier than ever to eat a healthy lunch. You can keep healthier snacks ready for the afternoon as well.
- Stay away from social media. It can be tempting to sneak on Twitter or Facebook from the comfort of your own home, but we all know how much of a time suck those apps can be. Save them for your personal hours.
- Find ways to hold yourself accountable. If you are the type of person who thrives off of external deadlines and validation, you may find the WFH transition particularly difficult. Having a chart to keep track of your goals, or even enlisting the help of an accountability buddy, can help keep you on track even when no one is watching.
- Have long-term goals. While it can be difficult to set goals in a time where everything feels so uncertain, having a few simple long-term goals can take you out of the “daily grind” mindset and keep you looking forward to the future. Taking classes or reading up on subjects that interest you are little ways you can grow.
- Reward yourself. When you do achieve a goal, do not be afraid to reward yourself! WFH is an incredibly self-motivated lifestyle, and that means its up to you to give yourself that “pat on the back” when you achieve what you want.
- Do not forget self-care! If there is one thing we can all agree on, it is that 2020 has been incredibly stressful. So while you are settling into your WFH lifestyle, it is important to remember to take care of yourself. Even something simple like a nice bath once in awhile goes a long way to creating a sustainable, and fulfilling, routine.