Two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies around the world still have work-from-home arrangements in place. Some companies, including well-known firms such as Slack and Twitter, have even shifted to this on a permanent basis. Other employers will take on a hybrid format for the long-term.
This means that working remotely is here for the long haul for many, and it’s become critical for employees to ensure they have what they need to do so effectively.
Here are some tips to maintain balance in your life, while keeping productivity high.
Start your day with intention and a schedule
Plan your days with to-do lists. Doing so creates intention for your days, and will help keep our minds motivated and our days meaningful as we complete and strike tasks off the list. Personally, I found it’s best for me when I create some form of routine and start work at relatively the same time every day.
It’s also important to have an idea when to call it a day. Without a set schedule, it might be easy to overwork beyond the point your mind is productive. Define a reasonable scope of tasks, and focus your hours spent at work on those.
Use the time saved on things that spark joy
One of the best perks of working from home is the time saved on commuting to the office. Without imposing unnecessary pressure on yourself to turn that time saved into productivity, there are many things you can do to make good use of that time.
The time saved from being caught in the morning rush is a great opportunity to finally get started on that book collecting dust on your nightstand, that hobby you’ve been meaning to pick up again, that new thing you’ve been wanting to learn, or even finally get an exercise routine in.
We’re all squeezed for time, and have more than a few things we’ve put on the backburner. As a result, not only could physical health have suffered over time, our mental wellbeing could also have taken a hit. There’s no better time than now to use the little time we’ve clawed back because of the current work arrangements into something that sparks joy for us.
Feel professional by looking professional
It’s easy to just roll out of bed and slide into your home workstation in the same outfit you woke up in, but it’s best to refrain from wearing your pyjamas all day.
Our brains are attuned to habit, and wearing what we slept in keeps our minds in sleep mode. Get into work mode by changing into something else besides your sleep wear. This helps for the reverse too; you tend to start winding down when you get in your pyjamas for bedtime.
Besides your mental state, many of us are probably still attending meetings via video calls. Looking professional during those meetings will help keep the work tone on for your coworkers too.
For me, I keep my pyjamas to bedtime, and stay in active wear on work days I plan to exercise. This way, I have less laundry to deal with as well!
Have a dedicated work space
Studies have shown that sleep quality is hindered when you work in your bedroom. However, most of us may not have the luxury to have a study room, or enough space for all the adults at home to fit into a working space during this period.
To work around this, you can mark out a work spot and keep your work within that area. It should be an area that creates a mental state for work mode, whether it’s a separate room or a part of your dining room.
Allocate time for exercise
With all the commute time saved, we should have less of an excuse to not exercise. But without heading out of the house to go into the office, it might be difficult to hit the recommended 10,000 steps a day. You can be more mindful of the tendency to turn into a couch potato by working active time into your schedule right from the start.
Don’t forget to get some sunshine too. If you are not required by law to stay within your home, do take a walk outside for some Vitamin D and fresh air, both of which are essential for our body and mind to function well.
Also, sitting for prolonged periods is bad for your back and also causes muscle tightness, so get on your feet. If you have not tried a standing desk, get creative by stacking some books and fashioning one out of your existing furniture at home. Here’s a life hack I came across: create a budget-friendly, height adjustable standing desk out of your ironing board!
For some, the hardest part of the Covid-19 pandemic and mandatory work-from-home arrangements can be the isolation and loss of opportunity to socialise.With the help of technology, we can get some face time with friends without meeting physically.
Make a virtual date with your friends for dinner or a chat. Perhaps you could even try out exercising with your friends through video call apps, creating your own virtual fitness classes. Other ideas: Organise virtual gatherings, ranging from happy hour sessions to movie parties, or share some music you like with friends (check out this Spotify song list that our friends made).
Keep your space organised
If you are spending all day at home, think about making the space more comfortable and pleasant.
- Declutter: Throw away or donate all the things you no longer need or want. If you are looking for a space to create your dedicated workspace, this is the best time to identify clutter. Keep only the essentials you need on your desk.
- Beware of house chores: You might be generating more dirt and dirty dishes at home. It’s tempting to jump in and clear up, but set aside dedicated time for chores after work hours to keep to your work routine.
- Make your bed: This helps to reduce the temptation to lie on your bed in the middle of the day, disrupting your set schedule.
Set some boundaries with your family
For those who are not living alone, it might be hard for you to be focused on work because your family is calling on you for everything and anything interesting.
Ground rules, in this case, are both necessary and helpful. Let your loved ones know your schedule and have them understand that you are always available outside your work hours. This helps your family to see that you are still available, but that they should not distract you from your work. It helps to educate younger kids too, helping them understand the concept of work and playtime.
Reflect and be grateful
Most of us reading this have access to clean water, comfortable homes and good internet access. Before we start feeling sorry for ourselves having to stay home all day, keep your spirits high by reflecting and appreciating your life and having all that you do.