COVID-19 and social distancing has changed the way offices across the world operate. Overnight, employees moved from their offices to their homes, leaving many people to figure out and adjust to a new way of working. If you’ve run into some challenges while working from home, know you’re not alone! Check out these tips from Erica Cook, a certified health and wellness coach and Clinical Exercise Physiologist at OhioHealth, on how to make working from home better for you, both mentally and physically.
Explore the “how-to”
Brainstorm some ideas to help make working from home the best it can be. Think about how you can:
- Organize your day
- Get work done at home
- Stay focused and avoid distractions
- Stay active and move in a smaller space throughout the day
- Stay organized
Create a routine
Even though you’re not going into an office right now, keeping your usual morning routine can help you feel more awake, energized, and ready to take on the day.
It may be tempting to wake up a few minutes before you start working, but try to avoid jumping right in – establish your morning “commute.” Do some activities that can help you feel more refreshed and prepared, like stretching, reading a book or the news, drinking a cup of coffee or tea, or enjoying a slow breakfast.
Remember to take lunch and snack breaks throughout the day. It’s also important to take movement breaks – give yourself a few minutes to do something mindless while getting some stretches or steps in. If you had dedicated time for certain tasks in the office, try to keep that same consistency while at home.
Maintain a work-life balance
You’ve likely been told to keep “work” and “life” separate – avoid bringing work home and avoid bringing home life to work. Set some boundaries to help keep this balance. Here are a few tips for starting out:
- Have a start and end time to your work day
- Avoid working outside of your work schedule
- Communicate to those you live with about your work area and schedule
- Avoid doing household tasks during your scheduled work time
The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to help manage your time. This technique helps to reduce interruptions and distractions while improving focus and productivity. Here’s how it works:
- Pick a task to work on
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and work this whole time
- When the timer ends, stop working and put a checkmark on a piece of paper
- If you have less than four checkmarks, take a 3-5 minute break, and repeat step 2
- Once you have four checkmarks, take a 15-30 minute break
- After a long break, go back to zero checks and start again at step one
You can also simplify using the Pomodoro Technique through apps. Check out Focus Keeper, a simple and easy-to-use timer for, for iOS or Focus To-Do for Android. If you want to see your results in a fun way, check out Forest for iOS and Android. While you work, the app grows virtual trees, and with enough time and focus, you’ll have an entire forest.
Aside from efficiently managing your time, your work space can affect your productivity too. Set up a work station similar to your office. Find a table or desk with a supportive chair, add pictures of your friends and family, place some plants, and sit by a window, if possible, to brighten up your space.
Spend a few minutes getting organized before you start your day – get some coffee, turn on your computer, and make plan for everything you need to check off your list for the day.
No matter if you love working from home or can’t wait to get back to your office, it’s important to take care of your mental and physical health. Find something at work to be excited about, fuel your body with nutritious foods, get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, move your body, and take breaks.
Self-care for working from home
Get movement in
With everything you need close by, it can be easy to pick a spot and stay there until you finish what you need to. Try these tips to help get some more steps in for the day:
- Use the restroom on a different floor
- Stand up every hour, on the hour
- Stand or walk around your home while on the phone
- Take a walk before and after work
- Add in intentional movement and steps
- Check your posture throughout the day
Working from home, especially if this is your first time, is a big change. It might take time to find a routine that works and feels best for you. If you get distracted, lose focus, or don’t feel as productive, give yourself some compassion. Learn from these situations to discover how you can create a more positive experience the next day.