Are you new to working from home? Well, some of us have been at it for a while, and we’re happy to share our advice. It’s easy to take the wrong approach at first (we’ve been there), so here’s what not to do, along with some better ideas.
You don’t have to spend an hour commuting in the morning, so you get to sleep for an extra hour, right? And you don’t have to spend another hour returning from work, so that’s another hour of sleep in the morning, right?
Do This Instead: Sleeping in can mess up your sleep schedule, throw off your work routine, and become a major temptation if you have nowhere to be. So, assuming you’re getting your doctor recommended eight hours a night, don’t change up your sleep schedule. Although, keep in mind, working from home means it’s easy to take a healthy power nap.
Dress (and Act) Like It’s Vacation Time
Not seeing people all day? That makes it tempting to live in pyjamas and let things around the home get untidy.
Do This Instead: By all means, relax a bit, but don’t sell yourself short. Getting ready for work often becomes an important part of people’s psychological routine. It helps us get into the right mindset. You can probably skip extraneous stuff like cologne or your morning razor but keep a morning routine and a tidy space for your own mental wellbeing.
There’s still more work to do? Well, better just get it done then. File that next report, respond to those new emails, get a lead on that project you’ve been thinking of starting . . .
Do This Instead: Some people who work from home end up working longer hours because there’s no compelling reason to stop at the end of the day. So set some limits for yourself. You can write a set list of goals that, when finished, mean your day is done. Or you can set hours for yourself.
Spring is cold, the world is unhealthy, and home is comfy. Why leave the home?
Do This Instead: Science has shown that even short walks though neighbourhoods with trees can improve mental health, amongst many other benefits of urban greenery. Even plants around your workspace can reduce your stress, boost creativity, and reduce sickness. At the very least, work near a window that overlooks some green space. Your brain will thank you.
Isolation makes it pretty tempting to go for comfort food and working in close proximity to the pantry makes junk food highly accessible.
Do This Instead: We’re not going to explain the benefits of a healthy meal, everyone already knows that. But we are going to point out that working from home means working near your own kitchen, which means you could cook a great lunch basically every day. In fact, you could do something like start a great stew in the morning, take thirty-minute breaks to check on it, and have it ready for lunch with minimal fuss. If you’re working from home with a partner, you could alternate cooking days. Or if you have kids, you could make them make lunch. It’s a learning experience.
The gyms are closed and exercise isn’t super convenient at the moment.
Do This Instead: Daily activity can be especially challenging for those who work at home. If you have a daily activity tracker, you can see just how much walking you’re giving up by staying at home. So make a special effort. Working from home means you can take breaks to stretch or do simple exercises without office busybodies bugging you. If going to the gym is off the table, you can try a machine-free home workout. Or you can take a walk, so long as you stay two metres away from everyone else.
Work in Front of the TV
You can watch TV and work at the same time, right?
Do This Instead: Some people think that they can do busy work like responding to emails while watching TV. But the science is very clear: multitasking doesn’t really work when you need to think. Psychologists call it “rapid task switching” because we don’t really do multiple tasks at once, we switch between tasks really fast. While this is sometimes beneficial (say, if you’re doodling to keep your brain awake during a boring conference), multitasking when you need to think doesn’t work. So, turn the TV off, or better yet, find a space in your house that can be exclusively for work.
The Big Takeaway
We have one final tip. When you’re done work for the day, it can be helpful to do a little post-work ritual to help you relax and decompress. Put away all your work stuff, go for a walk, take a short drive, go for a workout—anything to put space between you and work, since when you work at home, you’re always at more danger of taking work home with you, so to speak.