Suddenly, you find yourself working from home, which is great! Until it’s not. How do you navigate these new waters and stay sane? I can help.
First let me share with you a little about my background. Even before COVID-19 and before I started my own business, I was fortunate enough to work from home. I scored two different jobs that allowed me to work from home. I wanted to give you that information so that if at any point in this blog post you wonder who are you to tell me this? you understand where I’m coming from. Over 20 years of working from home has given me a lot of insight.
Fortunately for you, you will not struggle with some of the things I struggled with. No one will be expecting you to pick up their groceries, run to the post office for them, or watch their house while they’re on vacation because “you’re not working anyway. With this new reality people realize you are actually working from home.
That does not mean however that they’re good at respecting those boundaries. You still need to be clear that you are working and unfortunately that will involve explaining to people repeatedly that you are actually working from home. On the flipside you may have to draw boundaries for your coworkers and boss as well.
All that aside let me give you some tips on how to stay sane and healthy while you’re working from home.
My first tip and I’m begging you to follow this one is to get up and get dressed every day. I did not do this for the first job that I had working at home. I thought it was great for the first few months to be able to work in my pajamas (this was before videoconferencing Thank God!), until I realize that being in my pajamas all day made me feel bad. I started to feel depressed. That’s when I realized I needed to get up and treat this like any other workday. I’m not telling you you have to put on a full face of make up those some of you might still want to. But you should at least shower regularly and get dressed so that you feel comfortable and not sad.There are enough things in this pandemic to feel bad about without feeling bad about you.
Second, it’s easy when you’re working from home to stay seated for an entire day. I can’t tell you how bad this is for your body. At least not in technical terms. I can tell you that I now struggle with
lower back issues and poor circulation in my legs from sitting for extended periods of time. In an office situation you would not be seated all day. You would get up to use the restroom, talk to a coworker, go into a meeting, go out for lunch, etc. You can’t do that at home. But you can take frequent breaks and walk around to keep your circulation going. If you have a treadmill stashed in a closet somewhere now is the time to break it out. Schedule 10 minute walk on your treadmill just to keep your body healthy.
My third tip is try to make your environment at home as close to your normal office environment as possible. If you wouldn’t watch TV at work don’t have the TV going in the background while you’re working during the day. If you have a radio playing at your desk then by all means turn the radio on. But try to keep the situation at home as close to how you would typically work so that you will continue to be productive.
Embrace the Interruption
I realize that many of us, including myself, have children at home that can disrupt our working environment. That’s OK. I still work from home when my daughter was very little and I learned very fast that those interruptions were precious to me. Try not to get frustrated or angry when your little one comes in in the middle of a phone call. Your boss and your coworkers know you’re working from home. They are in the same situation. Try to laugh it off. For you workaholics this can be difficult. You are used to being completely focused at work and any distraction can be seen as an annoying interruption. Breathe deep and realize this is just for a short period of time. You will be back to the office soon enough try to enjoy your little ones while they’re little.
Go to Lunch
If you would typically take a one hour lunch break at work I encourage you to take a one hour break at home. It’s so easy to just grab something quick from the kitchen and sit down and go back to work. But you need that break. Use that time to get some reading in or play with your kids or whatever else you need to do to just disconnect from your work situation for a short period of time.
Treat it Like Work
When your offices in your house it’s so easy for your office to take over your life. Don’t let it. When your workday is over close the laptop shut off the iPad turn off your phone and disconnect. This can sometimes be hard because your boss knows you’re at home but this is where the boundary line drawing comes in. If you wouldn’t ordinarily take that call after hours before the pandemic don’t take it now. If you did ordinarily take that call before the pandemic – why? They are paying you for set period of hours. Every minute you work over that set period of time you are diminishing how much you make per hour.
You need to be able to disconnect from work and have a work life balance. If you need permission, you have my permission. Tell your boss it’s all my fault. She or he would not be the first boss who didn’t like me very much and they won’t be the last. People will take as much as you allow them to take. If you set clear boundaries now you’ll be happier in the future.
This last tip can be easy to forget. If you normally have a one hour commute or even a half hour commute were you have time to yourself to read, listen to music, or just be silent, then you need to take time for yourself after work. This can be extremely difficult when you have a family at home and you’re all stuck in one place. But you’ve grown a custom to having that time to come down from work. If you can find a space where you can do what you need to do to decompress from work. For me are used to jump in the shower when my daughter was little. It was the only place I had where there was no noise and I could have time to myself. Our water bill was off the charts but at least I stayed sane. It doesn’t have to be a full hour it can be as little as 10 to 15 minutes, but you need that time. Make a deal with your spouse, or significant other, that you will give them their space if they let you have your space. You need to work together as a team.
Do you have any tips for people working from home? If you do share them in the comments below. Will get through this together hopefully safe and sane.
Many blessings to you!