6 Tips to Stay Sane when Working from Home
because it's so easy to fall off task when your bed is right there.
With a second wave of Covid Positive cases spiking all over the United Stated again (please wear your masks people), businesses are sending employees home for the second time this year. During the first big wave, I had an essential job where about 50% of my managing was done from home, but the other 50% had to be done in the field. I'm now in a new position that could be done at home in full. We have a meeting later to determine what positions will be going home so I am fully prepared to make the move back into a home office.
For some people, this might seem like an ideal situation. If I was single in some trendy loft apartment with only my cat as a room mate, I would be jumping for joy at the chance to be home in my comfy clothes all day. Instead I'm married with a four year old and a two year old and finding a quiet space to work in my well live in home is very hard. It's so easy to get distracted and want to go play Barbies with my girls, or jump in as player two when my husband is playing video games.
Because this isn't my first rodeo, I've already got some good practices built in for working at home that I was able to pick up last go around. I'm lucky enough to have converted our spare room into a mini home office so that I have a room away from the family to work during the day which is a big help in it's own. Here's a few more quick hints that might help you survive another lock down working from home.
1. Pick a start time and start at that time.
This one is dedicated to all my over achievers out there. I had a job where it was easier to just start the second I woke up in the morning. I could check schedules, do paperwork and all the other administrative things before the rest of the world caught up with me and I was putting out fires all day. Without realizing it, I was working twelve hour days five days a week. I was on salary so it's not like I got any overtime for all the overtime I worked, I just saw a quiet opportunity to get tasks done that I normally didn't have time to do.
I would also like to dedicate this one to my late sleepers out there. Before my children dictated my internal clock, I was the kind of person who would wake up early for work, but sleep in until noon on the weekends. When working from home, it's all to easy to forget the alarm and start your day when you see fit. After all, your not required to be in an office and a lot of employers had the mindset of "as long as you get it done, you're good."
If you plan to start your day at 8 am, then start at 8. Not before, and definitely not after. This is for your own sanity of creating some kind of structured routine in a place that normally doesn't have this kind of routine in it. The way that I looked at it was simple; if I can keep work and home separate by place, then I will separate them by time of day.
2. Have a morning routine before you begin work
Please believe me when I say it's so disheartening to wake up and go straight to your computer before you even brush your teeth. It's easy, yes, but it blurs the line between time to work and time to be home.
Be home in the morning until your designated work start time. Once I started to develop my routine, I made it a habit to wake up at 6 am and not start working until 8:30. Waking up so early gave me about an hour of peace before my children were up. I would make coffee, read the news, listen to some soft music and meditate before everything got crazy. Once my kids were up, we could have breakfast together and I could tell my children "goodbye" because Mommy was working in the other room.
Like I stated before, working before my working hours turned into this great time to do administrative tasks that were hard to do during the day, but that wasn't healthy for me. I needed to make time to be home and keep these two different parts of my life separated. Doing enjoyable morning routine like things helped me stay calm and relaxed.
3. Get dressed and put on some pants
I didn't say what kind of pants though, remember. But go ahead and get ready as if you were leaving your house for work. Take a shower, do your hair, put on some make up, and definitely change your clothes. This is something I have done long before working from home as an author. When it's time to write my book, I do so in my writing clothes and not in my pajamas.
Something triggers in my head when I change my clothes to change my activity mindset. It's why I can't go to Walmart in my pajamas, because I need clothes to shop in. I don't cook in my nice work blouses because I don't want grease to splatter on them. I don't clean the house in my pajamas because I don't want chemicals to trail in. I don't work from home in my pajamas because I feel my productivity slip down the drain.
Honestly, I never put actual work clothes on when I was working from home. Generally, I changed into a nicer casual shirt and a pair of yoga pants or leggings during the day. I just needed the change of clothes to freshen up my attitude before jumping on the computer for our morning managers call.
4. Make your office conditions comfortable and professional
I was lucky enough to turn a bedroom into a home office where I could set up a desk, light my favorite candle and turn on some music to work with. I understand that there are some people working from home at their kitchen table or on their bed who maybe can't do those things like I did.
I would make sure to find a space that becomes your work space while your working from home. Find a section of the house that is the only section of your house that you work from. The rest of your house can now stay your house. Make that space feel like a space you want to be in with whatever comforts you.
Remember if you're going to go on a video call you don't want a nude girl calendar hanging up behind you because you decided to work in your garage (true story). Take a moment to look around and make your space look a little like a work space.
5. Plan your lunch break and actually take it
This one kind of circles back to the rule about starting at your start time. If you were sitting in your normal office for four hours, on hour five you'd leave for a full hour and take a lunch break. Make sure this tradition stays alive at home. Leave the bubble you designated as your work bubble and eat something while you play on your phone, or color a picture with your kids.
In my experience, it was so easy for my husband to bring something into the office for me while I stayed on a conference call and ate through it. Or I could make a snack fifteen times a day while I was doing paperwork. My breaks all went out the window because I was at home in my yoga pants enjoying my candle and the freedom I had to keep Facebook open on my phone all day.
This is actually the point of this article that I haven't put into practice yet that I will if I am sent to work from home again.
6. Remember that you have a little more freedom, but don't take advantage of it.
Good old fashion integrity. Lets be honest with each other for a moment. My last job kept me busy and was very high stressed. I would have a ton of meeting not just within the company but with the state of where I live. My particular position required me to attend all those meetings, but I didn't do much during them. Often times I would sit with my Nintendo in my lap and play a game while everyone hashed out new covid procedures. I would implement them once they were decided on.
I tuned out of a lot of meeting that I was supposed to be listening to. I want to make sure that my integrity is better if I am working from home again and I think one of the best ways to do this is with better routines during my day. Another way to do this is to find luxury in other ways. I also stated I would like a candle in my home office, something I could never do in my cubicle. I could also play music directly out of the speakers and not in my headphones.
WE ARE ALL IN THIS FIGHT TOGETHER! Please stay safe, stay sane!