Many of us had to move our work from the office to our home. I know from my own experience that it can be a real challenge. Working from home brings different stressors. We have different distractions and our we have more time to reflect over things and face our fears. At work we are often surrounded by people, so we don’t have as much space to think about anything other than work. At home is different.
On the other hand working at home has lots of benefits. You don’t waste time on commuting and unnecessary meetings. Moreover we can focus better, cause we don’t have our colleagues chatting over our shoulders (unless we have kids running around, then it’s another challenge to face). Additionally we can eat healthier, choosing home made options instead of fast take aways.
Those are great benefits of working at home, but how to deal with the negative sides of working from home and first of all what are those?
Let’s start from defining problems. When we are working together in the office, we are surrounded by the specialists. When there is a problem or information is missing, we can quite quickly get help or find answers. Unfortunately when we are home, we need to deal with problems on our own or wait for help until somebody answers our email or call.
Moreover, we are used to home as a private space and suddenly it has to be at the same our office. We are also our own boss and time keeper. How to manage it all?
1 .Wake up at the same or similar time of the day
Sleep hygiene is extremely important for your psychological (and also physical) well-being, but it’s worth to wake up at the same time as you are used to. This can help you to stabilize your biological clock and improve your productivity and satisfaction. Sleeping longer , suddenly when you start working from home can have similar effects like a jet-lag. It might cause tiredness, decreased productivity and focus. Therefore try to go to sleep earlier, 22-23 and the latest at 00:00, but wake up less more at the same time as you were going to work.
2. Create your morning routine
How we start our day can tremendously affect the whole day. That’s why creating a morning routine is a great way to have habits boosting your energy in the morning. It doesn’t need to be a long routine, it can last just 10-15 min, but it will still help you. I recommend you a short work out – stretching, morning yoga, mindfulness meditation (or a few minutes for self observation) and eating a proper breakfast with full attention. Try it out and you will see how it can boost your energy from the early morning!
3. Dress up like to the office
Walking in the pyjamas the whole day is very tempting and it’s ok to do it one in a while. However, it doesn’t influence well our motivation and productivity. When we dress up like we do for the office, we are automatically in the “work mode”. Our brain is perceiving it the same way, that is why it’s easier to focus on work tasks (not home duties as cleaning or cooking). When you are in pyjamas you are ready to take a rest or to sleep – unfortunately not work.
4. Take care of yourself – observe your stress signals and stressors
Working from home is a great opportunity to focus more on self care and self observation. In the office because of pressure we are forgetting to think about ourselves and we often ignore the stressors. Getting to know them and stress signals is a basic and the most important step for stress management. Stress signals can be reflected in the body, in our mind or in our behaviour. Observe which stressor (a situation which is releasing a stress reaction) your stress signal is connected with. It might be a tension in your jaw, neck, shoulder, stomach ache, faster heart beat or shallow breath ( there can be many more – those are just examples). If you are feeling one of those – take a few deep breaths, stretch or write them down. I made it easier for you by creating with the illustrator a pretty table for stress management. Write me a message or simply subscribe for a newsletter and I will send you one! 🙂
5. Organize your work space
After reading about dressing up like to work, you might guess that working from bed is neither the best idea. It will set you in the “relaxing mode” and you might end up falling asleep. Instead organize your space – the table which you are gonna work at and choose some attributes to put on the table to remind you that it’s a working space and psychologically it will set you in the productive mode. I also recommend a focus music, you can try out brain.fm site.
6. Physical activity
When we stay at home, especially in the current situation when we shouldn’t go out at all physical activity is especially important.
Moving only from the chair to the sofa can quickly cause back pain. Therefore daily trainings are essential – there are many available online. I included training in my morning routine and additionally I stretch when I take breaks.
7. Remove distractions
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or even Linkedin can be tough opponents in the remote work. Especially now, it’s extra difficult to stay away when you want to be informed about pandemic. Just remember there is a difference between being informed and being overloaded by info (and especially when a lot of info is contradictory). Good solution is to set a daily limit of checking it. It can be 2 -3 times a day. Control it (as well time – how long you are spending on scrolling social media). Otherwise you can also block access to social media by some app. There are many available online.
8. Remember about breaks
Breaks are super important to stay balanced and not to get immersed in stress. Do you know that in Finland coffee breaks are written in the schedule of work? In Denmark it’s really important to take part in the lunch breaks (usually around 12 and 12.30). Moreover during lunch you should talk about not work related topics to get your head away.
Talk should be easy and entertaining to be able to relax and give your mind needed break. This helps in the productivity and creativity during the rest of the day.
It’s also important to take short breaks during the day. I use a method of setting up an online timer for 40 min and then I take 5 min breaks. It helps me to focus, control my productivity and actually be more productive. During short breaks stretch,take a few deep breaths, get some water, make a tea – wash mindfully your hands. Do those activities with the full awareness to train your mind.
P.S. You can also do a quick sum up what you have done in the last “time mode” and plan the next one.
9. Keep the routine
To continue your daily routine it’s good to keep your schedule as it used to be. If you used to work from 9 til 17.00 do so now. It will be easier for your brain to get used to new work environment. An exception from that advice can be a fact that working from 9.00 till 17.00 was completely not for you. You can then use time of remote work to test which times of the day are best for your productivity and work in those time frames. Personally, despite of short breaks, I often take longer breaks to clean, cook and eat, cause sitting continuously the whole day in front of computer doesn’t affect me well. I try to focus fully on the activity which I do in between my work, to be mindful and get away from working mode. That is how I balance my day and my stress hormones. However, my work might differ from yours. I have often workshops, meetings with clients or webinars in the evening, so I can let myself have get away from work during the day.
Remember to adjust your routine to the specific of your work.
10. Stay mindful
Now it’s a good chance to practice mindfulness. I even think that it is needed to stay sane and keep the level of stress under control. Focusing fully on what is now is so important in this situation to avoid catastrophic thinking about the future. Negative thoughts about the future can appear and not all are bad (it’s sometimes a part of our survival mechanism), but most of them are completely useless. Focusing on what is now will help you with stress, focus, productivity, creativity and it will make it easier to go through this new situation.
Do you have other tips how to manage your work day at home? Share in the comment!
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