During this unprecedented outbreak, like many of my colleagues, I’ve been asked to work from home. At first, it seemed ideal. No traffic, no make-up and I could work from my dining room table in my sweats. After a couple of weeks, though, I’ve realized a few things.
- It’s harder to shut off when you’re not supposed to be working. After all, your laptop is just there. It’s easy to pull it back on to your lap when you hear an email come in.
- I wasn’t getting my daily steps in. I’m not walking between offices anymore, or even walking to my car! I was in danger of becoming a working couch potato.
- I wasn’t taking breaks as I should be and I was snacking constantly. At work when everyone goes to lunch at the same time, it’s easy. Just follow the crowd to the cafeteria. When you have to make that lunch and eat in on the same table that you’ve spread out your work, well, it’s a little different.
So what have I learned?
1. Set a schedule & use an alarm clock to help you keep it
Plan what you will do after work, even if it simple things like calling family or binge-watching your latest TV series. Make sure that it is something to look forward to. It will help to keep you motivated during the day as maintain a healthy balance between work and home. (I’m a self-confessed workaholic – anything that helps me maintain the balance is a good thing!) Personally, I’ve been trying out new recipes from the internet and improving my cooking & baking skills. All I will say is that these golden Oreo toasted marshmallow cheesecake bars are to die for! At the end of the day, if you have something to look forward to and you’ve completed your plan for the day, you won’t feel guilty about putting the laptop away.
As part of your plan, scheduling breaks is also key. You aren’t in the office, so you aren’t being interrupted when people come to your cube or walk in your office. One of the things that has helped me tremendously is guided meditation. I use the calm app on my phone and have been using their signature guided meditation during a ten-minute break from work. Quick tip! If like me you have an iWatch, check the results of your heart rate before and after! It’s astounding.
2. You don’t need to walk outside to get your steps in
I’ve been scheduling a “steps” break during my working day. It gets me away from my laptop giving my eyes a break and gets me moving. At this point, I should probably tell you that I have an upstairs apartment. My front door is on the ground level and there is one flight of stairs to my living quarters. Luckily, all of the steps are inside my apartment… So, I put some energizing music on and I literally walk up and down the steps in my apartment for about 10 minutes. The first day was brutal and actually more energetic than I expected! There are 14 steps from my front door to the top of the stairs. I’ll let you imagine how many steps that is over a ten-minute period… A few days into the new regime, I’m actually feeling healthier and proud that I can sustain the exercise for my 10-minute break. My goal is 5,000 steps per day including just walking around the house etc. I’m proud to say, I’m achieving it easily now.
Not the most interesting set of stairs, I know, but the music makes it entertaining!
3. Your work area should be a separate area.
The first day, I worked from my dining table. I have a monitor screen on there and it just made sense. After sitting on the dining chairs for a few hours, I realized just how uncomfortable and non-ergonomic they are. I also realized I spent the day munching on food. Not surprising since the dining table is normally where I eat. My brain associates the table with food. Day 2, I dug out my desk chair from the garage and brought it up stairs. I made a mini-office for myself in the apartment. My favorite Starbucks / Starfleet mug is there, filled to the brim with Earl Grey tea and my comfy slippers are on my feet, keeping them toasty and warm. I also dug out my travel mouse, so that I wasn’t using the trackpad on the laptop. Not only did my back thank me, but it also made it easier to separate work from home and maintain a healthy balance. When on a break or getting lunch, I leave the work area. Before starting my day, I make a drink, get breakfast etc., before entering it. Having a seperate space has really helped to create some boundaries as well as help me work more efficiently. What have you included in your home work area?
Earl Grey… Mmmmm
And that’s it. There’s probably more to learn, but in the spirit of giving and positivity, I thought I’d write what I’ve learned so far and maybe learn from others when you comment! You might also want to check out this first post in a series of 3 articles from Forbes on work life balance! Great reading… 6 tips for better work life balance
Stay safe, protect your loved ones and best wishes to all in these difficult times.