Working from Home: Changing How and Where We Work.

As many of us work from home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, work-life balance seems to be essential in maintaining our physical and mental well-being. If you are like me, and have forgot what day it is, or easily lose track of time, you aren’t alone. This is a big change, and challenge. This is the first time that a lot of us are working from home, and it all happened very suddenly. It hasn’t been easy.

I’ve been trying to set boundaries between my work and personal life and find that maintaining a regular routine really helps. When this first started, I would generally roll out of bed in my pj’s to the sound of my alarm clock, and not change all day. But that routine got old and left me feeling pretty lousy and sluggish. One of the big challenges when it comes to working remotely is keeping work and our home lives separate. Those lines can become very blurry, and if you’re never fully disconnected from work, everything suffers.

Writing out a schedule that you’re committed to Monday to Friday, definitely makes this experience more enjoyable.  Things listed on my daily agenda, include waking up at least an hour before I have to clock-in, taking a shower, changing into some day-time clothes (I don’t think my boss really appreciated my new look on zoom meetings), eating breakfast away from my computer and even ensuring a definite end to my work day (setting a period of time where you’re not allowed to work or check your work email is key for recharging).  This helped not only in disconnecting work from my home life, but also with my productivity and limiting the amount of distractions at home. I wasn’t as tempted to venture to the fridge for a snack every half hour and felt like I had actually accomplished something.

Speaking of which, the at-home distractions were also a major hurdle for me. A knock at the door from the neighbour, those dirty dishes in the sink, that show you didn’t finish on tv last night, family and pets that don’t realize that you are actually trying to work even though you are still at home the interruptions have been endless and all very tempting. Things that worked for me: I created an office space that was isolated from our living area with doors closed, do not disturb signs, and headphones. To brighten up my work area, I also try to add fresh flowers from the garden, and open up the window for fresh air and sunlight as much as possible.

During the pandemic, it has been easier for people to lose a sense of control, so focusing on areas in my life in which I do have control, has also been important to me to stay focused and positive. This inspired me to really check-in on what I was eating, what time I have been going to bed, the amount of exercise I was getting, if I was connecting with my friends and family virtually (and how often), and how much I was even going outside. I quickly realized there were areas of improvement in all categories to help me work toward a healthier well-being.

Other quick tips I found useful as I work from home:

  • Don’t forget to move. I felt like a 40 year only living in a 100 year old body after the first month. I now schedule in daily walks during my lunch break.
  • Water. I try to have a full water bottle beside me at all times. This also helps with the regular snacking.
  • Have some patience. Not only with others, but yourself.
  • Limit the time you spend on zoom. Take breaks between meetings.