I’m no stranger to working from home. I have been doing it for years. I love it – but I also travel quite a bit for work, so that usually breaks up the monotony of the home office.
Of course, now that social distancing is in place, I haven’t traveled for almost two months, and working from a home office for extended periods of time can feel isolating. Work-from-home life can also offer many distractions. While I don’t have kids, I do have a husband, a senior dog, a fat cat, and six chickens who sometimes disrupt my work day.
Here’s what I do to stay sane and productive.
1. Move around. A lot.
I get up, stretch, touch my toes. I might take a break to put in a load of laundry, go outside to say hello to the chickens, or put my old dog in the wagon and walk around the block for some fresh air. If I plan to work out at lunchtime, I block out a time in my calendar. It is very important to keep the blood moving, which keeps the brain refreshed throughout the day.
2. Schedule calls with colleagues throughout the day.
It’s important to connect with colleagues daily, even if it’s just a quick coffee and catch up over video chat. It helps to talk with your work friends instead of focusing constantly on a keyboard so that you can share experiences and support each other through these times. Hopefully, this makes us feel a little less isolated since we are all in this together.
3. Create a comfortable work space.
Posture is critical for your health and happiness, so you might want to experiment with different setups to get the right fit for you – from sitting on an exercise ball to DIYing a standing desk. I make sure my desk, seat, etc., are comfortable and are the recommended height for seeing my monitor, and I also ensure that my keyboard and mouse are comfortable for my wrists. These small tweaks will cause less stress on your neck, back, and less headaches or long-term damage.
4. Plan ahead for meals.
Because of my home office time zone, I usually have virtual meetings scheduled early in the morning. I make sure the coffee pot or tea is ready to go. I also have quick and healthy breakfast ideas on hand, as well as ingredients and pre-made lunches. If I have a plan and food prepared, I don’t scramble and eat something unhealthy at the last minute. I also don’t snack at my desk and use snack times to take a break.
5. Stay focused with a plan.
I do this by setting goals and making lists – lists for big initiatives, long-term goals, daily responsibilities, and personal tasks. I try to challenge myself, but stay realistic and be conscious of work/life balance. My lists include not only work, but also things like: take a walk, weed the garden, or reach out to a friend. For me, it is very satisfying to check things off my lists, which fuels my motivation.
6. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Some days I am happy, productive, and see a light at the end of the tunnel. Other days can be harder, and frustration can take over, such as when something unexpected lands on my desk, and I get completely derailed. Priorities change, and responsibilities shift. This is not only ok, it is expected. Try to have a sense of humor, and don’t be afraid to be human and be yourself.
What works for some may not work for others, but I hope sharing the ways I maintain my sanity and try to stay healthy while working from home gives you ideas for doing the same.
We are all in uncharted territory right now, so the best thing we can do is stay positive, keep our chins up, and try to be the best version of ourselves for our family, friends, and colleagues.