Prior to the pandemic, when people heard that our team works from home, the instant response was, “That’s awesome.” And you know, we still think it is. But many now realize that working from home doesn’t mean gourmet lunches and a perfectly clean house because we have so much more time on our hands and access to a fully stocked kitchen. Working from home can be just as taxing, if not more, than working in an office setting, so finding that work-life balance thing is important.
Today’s Focus: Maintaining Sanity While Working from Home
When your “office” is available to you 24/7, it’s hard to ever check out of work completely. This can quickly take a toll on you mentally and physically. Protect yourself by taking proactive, deliberate steps to maintain your sanity.
Keep Yourself Accountable.
Working from home, many of us are suddenly finding a lot more autonomy in our work. The boss might be checking in every day, but she can’t suddenly walk into your cubicle without notice, which, let’s be honest, is a bit freeing.
But if you start sliding down a “no one will know if I watch just one episode of Judge Judy” slope, it gets slippery quickly. One turns to two which turns to ten which leads to you not completing your TPS Reports which leads to sleepless nights … Keep yourself accountable. Your stress levels with be much lower and your brain much happier if you don’t get behind in your work.
There’s a reason books like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up fly off the shelves almost as fast as toilet paper. In a time of chaos, people crave organization. Why? Because if your environment is neat and tidy, that’s one less thing your brain needs to fret over. And while you might be losing the war on dog fur tumbleweeds, you can keep your workspace organized. Taking a few minutes to straighten your work area each day before checking out means you’ll return to a place of calm in the morning.
Remote workers seem to swing one way or the other when it comes to breaks – they either get distracted by every little thing and end up constantly breaking, or they are overcome with the worry that their boss is going to think they’re not working, so never take breaks. Neither approach is ideal.
If for no other reason than to rest your eyes, step away from your computer every hour. Do some stretches. Grab some water. Switch your laundry.
Wait? Switch laundry? That’s not work. No, no it’s not. But neither was standing around the coffee pot talking about what happened on last night’s episode of The Voice, but we all did just that. And it was okay. Your brain needs to shut off sometimes and nothing says shut down to the brain like turning your kids’ crusty socks rightside out.
Prioritize Your Health
Of course, health should always be a priority, but the world is strange right now and it seems to be impacting people’s wellness choices, as evidenced by the popular meme: “There are three ways to come out of this lockdown: A hunk, a chunk or a drunk.”
Ideally, you’ll emerge from this pandemic on par with Arnold Schwarzenegger circa 1967. But even if Mr. Universe isn’t in your future, eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep will help your mental health as well as your waistline. Yes, working from home means the refrigerator is oh-so-close, but back away from its temptations. Fresh air will clear your head, exercise improves happiness and potato chip grease leaves a gross sticky film on your keyboard.
Soak up the Sun
Granted, finding sunlight in mid-Michigan can sometimes be a challenge, but any natural light is a good thing. If your office is in a place where natural light is something you only read about on a blog, make sure to take a few moments every so often to step outside and turn your face to the sky.
Leave it at the “Office”
It’s easy when working from home for work to become consuming. You aren’t walking out a physical door each day, which is a subconscious trigger to the brain to shift gears, so by now you might feel like you’re always at work. Take steps to overcome this feeling. At the end of the workday:
- Maintain your “normal”. If you don’t usually answer emails after work hours, don’t start doing so just because your computer is sitting on your kitchen table.
- Power off electronics, even the phone, for at least for a few minutes.
- Go into another room. If your workspace is in your bedroom, go into the living room or step onto the back deck.
- Add a “commute”. Take a walk so you can literally head out the door after work.
Step Away from the Screen
Now that we’ve all been home for so long, we miss our friends, our family and even the annoying guy down the street who never puts away his recycling bin. So, we have been Skyping, Zooming, Teaming, FaceTiming, Hangout-ing to keep connected. If there’s a virtual platform out there, chances are you’ve been on it catching up with your people. But after weeks of staring at screens more than ever, our eyes are tired and we are Zoom-ed out. If you’re feeling that way, it is totally okay to take a pass on a virtual date and find a different way to connect.
Now Take a Deep Breath
…and smile. Yep, smile. Don’t worry, no one can see you but Fluffy and she’s narcissistic so will just assume it’s your love of her pouring out. Smiling can literally relax you physically, releasing tension in the face and forehead, while telling your brain something good is happening. So, step back, take a deep breath and smile over the fact that you are still (mostly) sane.