If you've found yourself working from home as a result of the shelter-in-place ordinances, you're probably still tweaking your at-home workspace and navigating challenges that arise with making this transition.
Working from home isn't as easy or as fun as it may sound - it takes some discipline and organization to create a productive environment. Here are some tips to help you create a productive work-from-home space.
1. Create a morning routine
Jumping right into “work mode” when you wake up isn’t healthy for your brain or good for your productivity. Now that you don’t have a morning commute, use the extra time to do some light stretching, a short yoga or meditation practice, or take a walk around the block before you check your phone in the morning. Even if it’s just a 5 to 10 minute pause when you make your coffee, it’s a good mental practice to take a moment to get ready for the day. Establish an easy ritual that you can stick to. Review your day and to-do list before you sit down to work.
2. Change up the location - even just a little bit
If you're sheltering-in-place, you'll likely get a little stir crazy, so distinguishing separate work and chill zones is crucial for your mental health. Don't sleep, work, and watch TV all from the same location in your home. Try and designate specific areas according to their function. Sit near a window if you can. Being exposed to natural light is good for you and affects our circadian rhythms. When the days are blurring together, any sense of regularly is encouraged. Even if you live in a small apartment, get creative with available work surfaces. Not only will it get your body moving, but it will help you create a sense of routine and purpose if you get up and "go to work," even if it is just from the bed to the sofa.
3. Get comfortable
If you aren’t used to working from home, your seating options and work surfaces may be limited and you may not have an ergonomic desk chair at home. Sit somewhere with sturdy back support at a clean, flat work surface, like your dining room table. We should be limiting deliveries, but if you do bulk order, consider investing in a removable back support you can attach to the back of most dining chairs.
4. Create a vibey workspace
Making your workspace feel like a place you want to go is crucial in setting the tone for your workday. Keep it minimal and clutter-free, but consider integrating a few items that spark joy like a table plant or family photo. A clutter-free space will help you stay focused, and a few choice items will promote positivity.
5. Take regular breaks
Taking regular work breaks increases productivity and creativity. Working for long stretches without any breaks leads to stress, exhaustion, and reduced productivity. Taking a break to get up for a stretch or take a walk around the block gives your mind the chance to reset and replenish your mental resources. Even if you don’t leave your home when you “break” for lunch, make sure you still take a break, change locations, and don’t work or be on your phone while you enjoy your meal. Physical activity is also good to get your blood and brain moving while also boosting your mood.
6. Schedule regular check-ins
We’re all starved for human connection right now and are probably used to working around people. To keep a sense of regularity and to stay on task, schedule regular video check-ins with your teammates. They can be higher level check-ins to discuss goals for the day and week, or more focused video calls to talk through a project. If you’re managing a team, make sure that you’re encouraging a positive mindset too. People can feel lost or disoriented without their regular schedule or team around them. It’s also nice to see your coworker’s faces and connect with them visually!
7. Limit your news intake
Taking care of your mental health is of utmost importance right now. While it’s good to stay on top of what’s going on and make sure that we’re all following the right protocols, it can be very easy to spiral into a negative mindset. Make sure to keep your media consumption in a healthy balance with no-screen activities, human connection, and physical activity. Consider putting a boundary on news intake every day such as, “no news consumption after dinner”.
Working from home right now may not have been in the plan, but this is the reality we're living in, and maybe you'll develop some new productivity habits because of it! It takes time to get used to this "new normal" and things are changing all the time, so be gentle with yourself and don't worry if there are some bumps in the road or a dog barking on your Zoom call. We're all in this together.