Over the past couple of months, we’ve all adjusted to a new way of life at home. While you’ve probably started settling into new routines, there might still be a few bad habits in danger of disrupting your work-life balance. Here are some simple ideas on how to refresh a stale routine and breathe new life into working remotely.
Review your schedule
Juggling work and home-life is now more challenging than ever. If you're finding it hard to balance the two, try to create a fixed schedule. This could take the form of working a regular nine-to-five, or perhaps staggering your working hours to accommodate your household’s needs.
Whether lockdown has left you with a much busier or a much quieter home than usual, either scenario can make it easier to miss out on essential breaks from work. Consider blocking off time in your calendar for short breaks and lunchtimes. Aim to stick to regular intervals and try to avoid scheduling meetings during your downtime.
When it does come to lunchtime, make sure to avoid eating where you work. As well as avoiding crumbs and dishes on your desk, this will also create a physical boundary between your work and leisure time. Take yourself away from your computer and phone if you can and give yourself a real break from screens. Different strategies work for different people, but whatever you do, make sure that you are planning in adequate time both to work and to unwind.
Refresh your surroundings
In recent weeks, work and home-life boundaries have blended for many of us, which can make it tricky to switch off from work when you leave your desk at the end of each day. Why not try making a habit of sprucing up your workspace regularly? Whether that’s clearing out an ever-growing collection of mugs or just some general clutter, try to remove any distractions that have crept in. This will ensure that when you next return to work, you’ll have a fresh space to start a brand new day.
Whether you have a dedicated space to work from home or not, consider a change of scenery every now and again. Try switching to the rooms that catch the sun or see if your partner or flatmate fancies switching desks for a few hours. You might find that mixing things up a bit sparks a brand new wave of motivation.
If you’re looking to give your workspace a makeover, here are some ideas and tips for creating the perfect home office.
Ward off unnecessary distractions
It can be stressful working from home, especially if you happen to share your house with family members, flatmates or four-legged friends. While your partner or flatmates are obviously an unavoidable distraction, there are other diversions that can (and should) be avoided while you’re working.
Take laundry and other household chores, for example. While these are looming tasks in every home, remember that before lockdown you (hopefully!) managed to stay on top of them outside of your working hours. Although life at home right now blends these boundaries a lot more, try not to let chores distract you from your working day. You could try getting household tasks done first thing in the morning, for example, or perhaps create a cleaning rota and stick it on the fridge.
Be kind to your body
Working from home full-time is a lot more stationary than our former working lives; no commute, no meetings, no lunches with friends or colleagues. If you’re finding yourself more glued to your chair than you’d like, here are a few ways you could add some activity to your days.
Consider setting an alarm every hour or so to remind you to take time to stretch your legs and have a posture break. Make the most of your daily allotted outdoor exercise too. Why not try exercising at different times of the day so you can give yourself a boost when you need it most? You could go for a morning stroll when you know you’ll have your head down for the rest of the day or a lunchtime run to clear your head after a busy morning.
Care for your mind
This “new normal” is not easy. The unknown is daunting and the situation can feel very anxiety-inducing. Combine that with working from a busy household and things can sometimes feel completely overwhelming. If you’re feeling the effects of stress, or even if you’re not, try to integrate some calming activities into your daily routine.
Research shows that music can help reduce stress and anxiety, as well as having the ability to improve concentration and productivity. Set aside some time to create or find music playlists to match different moods. A calming, classical playlist could help when you’re stressed, or perhaps try listening to an epic throwback playlist for a pick-me-up. If you’re missing the hustle and bustle of your pre-coronavirus working environment, then Coffitivity offers a selection of ambient sounds from coffee shops and other spaces around the world.
Working from home right now can also mean being inundated with news from around the world. Whether it’s breaking news notifications on your phone or hearing about the ever-changing developments from friends and colleagues, the coronavirus news cycle can be exhausting. Try to limit the amount of news that you take in throughout the day. While it’s important to know what’s happening, a constant stream of information can add extra pressure and anxiety to your day. You might want to consider an app that limits your screentime, or perhaps try taking a break from having the radio or TV playing in the background.
While your work routine is important, make sure to give yourself downtime when you need it too. That’s one of the perks of being self-employed - you’re your own boss! If you have any tips or advice for preserving peace of mind during these turbulent times, drop us a comment below.