The concept of a work-life balance was seamlessly blurred last year, with many companies switching to a work from home (WFH) strategy amidst the pandemic. Employees were left to create a separation between their personal life and work under one roof, and this lifestyle will last well into spring and summer for many.
You’ve probably got about ten months of experience working from your couch or at your kitchen table if the WFH transition was abrupt for your company. Whether you’re a seasoned WFH professional or a novice to the new norm, feeling comfortable and confident while working remotely is a necessity for your health and success.
Since the WFH culture is going to be here for a while, a solid routine will help you make the most of it. Navigate toward a more productive workday with these tips.
Establish a routine
Now that you work from home, it might be tempting to set your alarm for later in the morning or hit that snooze button a few more times, but try to resist the urge. Even though it may feel like a lot of things are out of our control, we can still establish routines that provide us a semblance of normalcy.
Stick to your regular morning rituals as much as possible. Continue waking up early, eating a balanced breakfast, and getting dressed. For many, the morning commute is a way to relax before a long day. This doesn’t have to go away. Listen to your favorite podcast or playlist on a morning walk to get yourself ready to take on the rest of your day.
Creating a schedule for yourself sets boundaries for your workday. Just because you can respond to emails on your phone from the comfort of your bed does not mean you should. The best way to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed is to stay organized.
Online planners, such as Notion or Asana, and My Study Life for students, can help you keep track of due dates and organize what you need to do for months ahead. These tools aid in visualizing your workday, which proves to be a difficult feat at home. Plus, there’s nothing better than checking a to-do off your list.
Keep your workspace separate from your leisure space
If you’re able to work in an office room separate from your bedroom, that is best. However, some of us don’t have the luxury of a spare room. In this case, try to keep sacred spaces in your room that you only use when it is time to unwind for the day. While it’s tempting to prop your pillows and hop in bed with your laptop, it can blur the boundary between work and home.
Keeping your work and leisure spaces separate is not only related to the physical space but also to your mental state. It may take a lot of self-control to keep work at “work” and home at home, but studies show that this is one of the most important ways to keep your peace of mind and have high productivity.
Take a break
Breaks throughout the day are critical. While taking a break may seem counterproductive, it actually enhances work performance. Taking shorter breaks throughout the day will keep you from being burnt out at the end of the workday, so you’ll still have time to be social (at a distance, of course).
If you’re someone who sits down for the workday and delves deeply into the tasks at hand, breaks are especially important for you. Download a browser extension that tells you when to take a break. As soon as your break time appears in the corner of your screen, close the tab and do something restorative: listen to a song, make a small snack, or meditate for a few minutes. You’ll return feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the next part of your day.
Practicing self-care is always beneficial to keep the work-life balance, and when working from home, it is essential. Ask yourself questions about what time of day you feel like you need to take care of yourself the most and what kinds of activities make you feel restored.
After you reflect on your answers, set aside a time, whether that be extra early in the morning or an hour after dinner, and pick an activity that lets you focus solely on yourself. As long as it feels good to you, do this thing at the same time every day.
It doesn’t always have to be the same activity. Maybe some days, it’s reading for pleasure. Other days, it’s an online yoga class. Or sometimes, it’s simply listening to music. Regardless of how you choose to spend your time, reserve at least 15-30 minutes to take care of yourself and yourself alone.
Photo credit: Vlada Karpovich