Many of us are forced to work from home during these challenging times. Some of us can easily adapt to working from home, but many of us may find it difficult. That is okay. We are all in the same boat and we are all in this together.
It is important to remember that it is only for a short period of time and before you know it everything will be back to the way it was, and we are all going to come out of this much stronger and much more resilient.
To help you settle into a work from home routine, here are a few things you can do:
o Keep morning routine. Once you wake up, get ready like you usually do for work. Take a shower, brush your teeth, have breakfast, and so forth. When it comes to getting dressed, wear comfortable clothes. In the end, you are not in the office, so no need to feel uncomfortable at home. A nice perk to have.
o Energy boost. Before you start any work, partake in an enjoyable and gratifying activity for 30 to 60 minutes that will provide movement to get the blood pumping through your system, which activates your mind and body. This is usually your "going to work" routine, which wakes your body up and makes you more alert as you make your way to work. This could be a walk, jog, dancing, cycling, pilates, exercising, and so forth.
o Take regular breathers. Once you start working, take note to take breaks. Do not force yourself to work the whole day. This will only lead to exhaustion, affect your mental health, and stifle thinking and creativity. We assume that if we keep our focus on the task until it is complete, what we come up with will be sufficient. Breaks give your mind a breather and a chance to recuperate, recharge, and come back to your project refreshed, with a fresh perspective. Just as we cannot sprint a marathon, we should not expect our minds to do so either. Take a break every 90 minutes during your most productive hours (usually mornings), and every 45 - 60 minutes during your less productive hours (usually after lunch). During your break step away from your desk or workspace and do some creative activities around the house, garden, or a quiet place outdoors. The best break would be to get close to nature and add movement such as walking, cycling, jogging, dancing, swimming, or something of the like. Nature reduces anxiety and elevates our mood, as well as replenishes mental energy that improves our mental health, memory, and enhances our creativity. Movement is crucial to jump-start and re-activate the mind and body, and improve alertness, clarity, and focus.
o Continue meetings virtually. This will allow you to stay in contact with your colleagues and stay on top of updates, progress and any concerns. As we are away from the office, it is crucial for work to flow and to involve human contact during our day.
o Virtual lunch with workmates. Have lunch with the usual people you have lunch with each day. This will add familiarity to your workday and keep you in contact with friends. Try to keep lunch around the same time you usually have lunch when you are at work and be mindful to not go overtime. If your family is home with you too. Disconnect from work completely, turn off your phone, and enjoy lunch with your loved ones. A delightful perk.
o Be mindful of boundaries. Stop working the usual time you stop when at work. If you set a different time while working from home, make sure you stick to that time and step away from work. As you are working from home, sometimes work and home life can start to merge. It is crucial to set the boundaries. Plan a certain activity you enjoy and do that activity as soon as you are done. Treat it like your "going back home from work" routine and do it every day to simply unwind and immerse yourself into home life.
o Organise your workspace. Keep the room you are in, workspace, and desk tidy and clean. Our thinking is influenced by our environment, therefore, a clean and tidy environment adds clarity, clearness, and improves concentration and focus.
o Add colour to your workspace. This is important to enhance mental wellbeing and for an energy and happiness boost. It is often the simplest things in life that can instantly enhance our mood and make us happiest, and a rainbow is definitely one of them. Choose to enhance your workspace with your favourite colour(s). Or, as a suggestion, enhance with teal or aquamarine. This colour activates the brain and learning, as the brain remains undecided if the colour is green or blue.
o Add music to your day. Another simple way to instantly enhance mood. Listen to music during your morning routine, going to work routine (second bullet point above), when taking breathers, during work, and at the end of your work day. Some of us work better with music. If you find it distracting while you work, listen to uplifting music, or music that reminds you of positive events and experiences, during your routines and breathers, to create a more positive mindset.
o Plan your day the night before to reduce overwhelm and stress. This will allow you to be more proactive, and more in control. For fifteen minutes plan your workday and write down the 3 most important things you want to get done the next day. You now have a clear plan and purpose when you wake up, and you create a clear path to move forward. Do not forget to plan breathers.
o Avoid sugary food. It is easy to snack a lot and get into bad habits working from home. Especially where stress and anxiety can be high. We need to be more mindful and learn to look past unhealthy, processed, and sugary food. These types of food lead to a reduced level of functioning and can hurt your immune system, as they contain little to no nutritional value. They can also decrease brain power, cloud mental clarity, make you tired, and turn sugar highs into sugar crashes.