Those of us fortunate enough to be able to do our jobs from home offices have had our worlds turned upside down in recent weeks. While working from home is great in theory, with so much forced and rapid change, it can be overwhelming and hard to find your groove.
Working from home provides the ideal solution for businesses that can support it. It means people can practice physical distancing or self-isolation while still being productive at work. And, some people love the extra time and flexibility that comes with working from home. However, for others, particularly extroverts who thrive on human connection, it can be a struggle.
Aside from the lost physical interactions with colleagues and friends, self-isolation can also cause family strain. Many people are now required to both live and work with their partner and children in the same space. With no time away from the ones you love, it can be easy to become irritable and distracted due to the blurred lines between work and home life.
It’s therefore important to set boundaries during this difficult time, so you can create a new normal. You need to develop a routine that will help you stay physically and mentally healthy. We’ve outlined five simple steps to help you achieve this:
1. Replicate your daily schedule
While working from home provides a whole world of flexibility, it equally brings potential distractions with few immediate consequences. While your commute may have changed from a few hours to just a few steps, it’s advisable to set your alarm clock at the usual time and start your day the same. Whether you normally start your day with a morning walk or a coffee, aim to preserve this ritual as much as possible to help you mentally prepare for your day.
Once you’ve finished your breakfast, have a shower and get dressed for the day. One of the most tempting things to do when your first start working from home is to work in your pyjamas. Don’t do it. You still need to create a separation from work life and personal life; plus, you don’t want to be caught off-guard on a video call.
Likewise, work your normal hours. Make it clear to family members that your typical workday is still work time, not family time. If your kids are working from home with you, set a schedule for them too.
When you’re working from home and your laptop is right there, it’s so easy to shoot off one more email or quickly finish that one report. If you don’t let yourself switch off, you’ll find yourself working much later and longer hours than you normally do. It’s important to do what you can to preserve your job in this climate, while also not burning out.
2. Limit your social media
Being forced into self-isolation can be lonely, and we often turn to social media to fill that connection void. With so much going on in the world currently, it may be best to limit your endless scrolling on social media. Instead, to get your daily news fix, consult a credible source for a limited amount of time. If you’re feeling lonely, then try to call or video chat with a friend instead.
If you’re not sure you can limit yourself, then set forced restrictions in your phone. Apple and Android phones both have settings that let you restrict your screen time by setting daily app limits. Of course, you can dismiss these if you want to keep scrolling, but it provides a reality check of how much time you’ve wasted scrolling. While social media can be great for maintaining connections, it can equally make you feel even more alone, and provide you with an inaccurate understanding of current events.
3. Virtual catch ups
Humans are social creatures. Even though we are being encouraged to self-isolate physically, we should not be socially isolating ourselves.
Virtual catch ups can replicate almost any type of physical interaction you had pre-coronavirus. You can have a coffee date, do a workout together, update your colleagues on current projects, or even sync Netflix to have movie night together. Making the effort to connect virtually with the people in your life can help to combat loneliness during isolation and help others that need a mood boost.
4. Maintain or start an exercise routine
With gyms closed it would be easy to stop exercising, however it’s more important than ever to get those endorphins going, regardless of whether you were exercising regularly or not before self-isolation.
There are apps and YouTube clips that provide guided workouts, and some gyms are offering online options. You can access anything from HIIT, yoga, and strength training to Pilates or even dance classes.
5. Go outside, even if you don’t need to
If online workouts aren’t for you, then get outside and go for a walk or light jog if you can. Leaving the house and getting some fresh air is important to avoid getting cabin fever, even if you step out of your front door for just five minutes.
Try to find a silver lining in these crazy times, can you enjoy more time with your kids, do some spring cleaning that you’ve put off, binge on a few Netflix shows, or slow down, reflect and plan for the future.