31 Mar Working from Home: 3 Tips to Stay Productive and Healthy
As the coronavirus continues to upend our routines, many Americans have recently found themselves in new, foreign territory: working from home.
Working remotely is often romanticized—(“Whee! Sweatpants all day!”)—but for those unfamiliar with its finer machinations, it can be difficult to navigate, and comes with an unexpectedly steep learning curve.
So here are 3 tips on how to create a healthy and productive work environment at home—and do it like a pro!
The first thing you’ll notice when working remotely is quite simple: you’re not in the office! And when you’re not in the office, that means no one is there to see if you’re being productive or if you’re goofing off on social media.
Without other colleagues or managers around, it’s all too easy to let accountability fall by the wayside.
To combat this, use the old-fashioned method of writing your tasks down to create some form of accountability, like adding specific items and their due dates to your calendar or creating lists you can check off.
When you can see your responsibilities written out entirely, you may find that your list becomes less scary and much more manageable—especially since they’re right there in front of you, and not bopping around in your head.
And who doesn’t love the sensation of literally checking things off a list throughout the day?
Be Gentle with Yourself
When it’s just you holding yourself accountable, it’s equally easy to be hard on yourself, especially when you don’t get everything finished on your checklist or your schedule doesn’t go according to plan. When this happens, it’s important to be gentle with yourself. Much like in an office environment, sometimes these things simply happen. Just remember, there’s always tomorrow to tackle those extra tasks.
It’s really important to keep moving throughout the day, regardless of whether you’re working in an office or at home. But sometimes, when it’s just you, it can be tough to keep track of how long you’ve been sitting or many steps you’ve taken—especially if you’re practicing social distancing like the pro that you are.
Schedule alarms to go off at certain points of the day.
These will remind you to walk around your house, or around the block (keeping six feet away from others who may be doing the same, of course).
Take advantage of your living space.
When you’re due for a break, walk up and down your stairs. It might feel weird at first, but hey, you’re getting those steps in!
If you have a standing desk, you’re already an expert at this. If not, try working at the kitchen counter, or another space where you can comfortably stand and do your work.
Have—and Keep—a Routine
It’s tempting when working from home to just “wing it” and see where the day takes you. But that strategy, even with the best intentions, can lead to many wasted work hours lounging in your sweatpants, bingeing on Netflix (but we’re in a golden age of TV, right?), and flicking through Instagram.
Take charge. All you need to do is replicate what you did before, when you physically had to leave home for work each morning.
Keep what works
Don’t mess with your morning routine. If you used to watch the news over your morning coffee, go ahead and do that—just don’t let 30 minutes of catch-up turn into the entire length of a morning show.
Dress for work
That means no sweatpants. Sorry! Wear the same outfits you did for work. Adhering to this routine has the surprising psychological effect of putting you in Productivity Mode—something that lovely loungewear just can’t do.
Remember to eat
Don’t let work interfere with your own well-being. Regardless of how deep into a project you are, you need to make time to eat during the day.
- Set (another) alarm that reminds you it’s lunchtime. Set it for the time you typically eat lunch.
- When you’re eating lunch, make sure it’s not in front of your computer screen or phone. And if you can, move to a different part of your home.
- If you find yourself reaching for yet another snack, stop and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” If the answer is no, grab a glass of water instead.
- For the times when you really are hungry, make sure snacks are satiating, avoid processed foods, and reach for healthier options such as vegetables and hummus or a piece of fruit.
- Sugary snacks will make you crash, and with the creature comforts of home at your fingertips, the come-down from a sugar rush can lead to more of that oh-so-good show you totally found before anyone else.
The workday ends. Always did, always will.
This is perhaps the most difficult part of working from home. It’s so easy to find yourself getting back into that omg-can-you-believe-that-last-episode??? show while still answering emails at 10pm.
It’s super important to shut off at a specific time each day. Shut your laptop. Close your home office door. Put that paperwork away. Take a good look at all your workplace materials, and pretend that they’re in another building, another zip code. You need to give yourself time to recharge. Even if your colleagues and managers haven’t learned the finer nuances of working from home, you have, and you understand that, just as before, there need to be boundaries.