How to Work From Home Sanely
You won at having the privilege of working from home, but now what? The flexibility of freelance or remote work is blissful until you're interrupted by your child, pet, or pets in the rabbit-hole of viral videos. Or you strategically avoid work with the productive excuse of finally folding that load of laundry. Procrasticleaning, we see you. And we get you . . . Here are some tips to keep your mental, physical, and workplace health in check while working from home.
Create & Stick to a Schedule
Remember how when you were in school you were probably at least a bit more productive with your time? That's because you had a schedule to stick to. So, emulate that by creating a structure within your workday to increase efficiency. Set a start and end time, as having a designated cut-off time puts productive pressure to stick to your work & allow yourself to step away in a timely manner. And not return to work after dinner or, worse, eat dinner while working.
Don't get Too Comfortable
There are many benefits to working from home, both to the employer & employees as well as freelancers. A two-year study conducted by Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom found that employee attrition decreased by 50 percent among telecommuters, they took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days, and took less time off. Not to mention, telecommuting also reduced their carbon emissions from fewer automobile useage.
But it's also tempting to snuggle up on the couch or, let's face it, even end up not changing out of your pyjamas. We have certainly been guilty of both, but research andprobably your experience of productivity levels say otherwise. Instead, wear comfortable clothes that also make you ready & excited to face the day. Perhaps choose a colour that makes you happy. Baker-miller Pink for instance, is proven to be calming and is even used as a nervine in prisons.
Make Your Workspace Inviting
As seen above, I myself have knick-knacks & mementos that make me happy to be at my desk at home. Making a workspace inviting doesn't necessarily have to mean being a minimalist & decluttering your desk to a tee. Keep it clean and organised while still having things around that bring you joy. For instance, I have a candle for cosiness factor, a photograph of my grandparrents, and even a little card from my favourite store from our time living in West TX, which also happens to sell my favourite incense. I also love to burn this one.
Again, you might suddenly feel a pressing need to fold laundry! empty the dishwasher! or scrub the rug that you've never cleaned! but remember that it's your workday. In other words, that means that you shouldn't be working on your home just because you're working from home.
If you do have household chores or errands to run, make sure that you schedule it into your day within a specific timeslot so it doesn't eat away any extra time.
Set Up a System
If you have children, it's critical to be honest with what you can handle and provide while working from home. Be realistic about your need for a caretaker during your work hours, which can be a financial investment but it is also an investment in increasing productivity while decreasing stress for you.
It ends up paying off in the long run to set up boundaries, financially and emotionally, for those working from home with a family in tow. If having a caretaker or babysitter all the time is not feasible, try at least an hour or two per day or a few times per week. You will also then be able to spend more time and do so mindfully with your family as you'll finish work more efficiently.
Find a Friend in the Area to Co-Work With
If there’s a friend in the area who is also a freelancer or otherwise works from home, see if they would like to schedule in a date or two (or three, or all week) to work together. I have been doing this with one fo my dear friends and both of our productivity levels as well as mental health greatly benefited from it.
Schedule in a Break (or two)
Working from home can often entail being a hermit or self-proclaimed young curmudgeon. It can also feel like your bottom has fused and become one with your workchair, with exercise a concept of bygone days. You may commit to exercising "at the end of the day," but without the first tip of creating a schedule, the day might slip away and you may only realise it when you're hungry for dinner. To avoid this, first create a schedule and place movement breaks into it. This can be an early morning walk before breakfast, a mid-day walk after lunch, or even a post-dinner walk.
Every hour, make sure to at least get up, hydrate, and do some easy stretches like bending side-to-side or swinging your arms in circles to boost circulation to the body and the brain.
Create an End-of-Day Ritual
Create a ritual that gives you a sense of closure of and assesses your workday. This will bring you a sense of accomplishment as well as a better udnerstanding of what you need to do the next day. This can include lookign over your to-do list to transfer what remains to be done to tomorrow's and promptly changing into lounge clothes to mark the transition to relax. This will signal your body to relax as well, so you can shift your attention to other activities such as cooking a meal, taking a walk, or spending time with your loved ones.
About the Author
Almila Kakinc-Dodd is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief of The Thirlby. She is also the author of the book The Thirlby: A Field Guide to a Vibrant Mind, Body, & Soul. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Nursing as a Dean’s Scholar at Johns Hopkins University. Her background is in Anthropology & Literature, which she has further enriched through her Integrative Health Practitioner training at Duke University. She lives in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area, where she regularly contributes to various publications. She is a member of Democratic Socialists of America and urges others to join the movement.