Working from home does have a lot of benefits. No dress code, no manager breathing down your neck, no long commute, (thank goodness with these gas prices!) and being able to work wherever you want to are all positive aspects.
Adapting to a home/work environment has its own set of unique stressors and challenges, however.
For example, when working from home you are typically less physically active. This can affect both your overall health and sleep patterns.
Also, motivation and distractions are biggies. Since you are in the comfort of your own home you are surrounded by things (and people and animals) that pull your mind elsewhere. For example; your tv, your pet, your kid, Amazon deliveries and even neighbors are all common distractions during working hours. These distractions can lead to a real lack of motivation.
Two more challenges include dealing with a lack of structure (which can lead back to distraction) and difficulty setting boundaries. If you have kids at home, they won’t understand that you need time to work. Pets! The dogs still need walking, feeding and letting to go do their thang. Even friends and family might not totally understand that you are, in fact, at work.
With these unique work-from-home difficulties in mind, here are some tips for combating the stress of those challenges.
- Creating a routine is a must. Not only will this help build structure for you personally, but also for the family, friends and pets in your life.
- Create a practice that marks the beginning of your day: This may include taking a walk before you start working, taking a few moments to stretch, and/or enjoying a coffee or tea to start your day.
- Mark the end of your work day: Simple tasks like putting your work material away and out of sight, taking an evening walk or prioritizing one-on-one time with a family member who might not have gotten enough attention during the day.
- Set a morning alarm: Waking up at the same time everyday can give you enough time to prepare for your workday and helps with establishing your morning routine.
- Set a regular lunch time: Taking lunch at a similar time everyday can give you a much-needed break and offer you some time to refuel before getting back to work. Be sure to fully unplug during your lunch time so you can enjoy your break.
- Prioritize challenging tasks: If you have the ability to decide which projects or tasks to complete, consider doing the most difficult ones first to reduce the potential of feeling overwhelmed later in the day.
- Create a dedicated work space. Try to create a dedicated workspace where you can solely focus on your job. Creating specific work and home boundaries, even if you’re just using a small corner of your home, can help you mentally shift from home life to work. Get everything you need in one place, before you start work – chargers, pens, paper and anything else – and shut the door if you can. Even in a small or shared space, try to designate an area for your work. It may also help you leave your work “at the office” once you’re done with your day.
- Reward yourself. Make sure you don’t forget to take care of yourself. If you have a task list, cross off those tasks. That little achievement gives you a dopamine boost. Consider having a post-it note with a relevant positive affirmation to recite during the day. Take a well-deserved break and move around a bit. This may mean walking around your home or doing some stretches during your breaks. If weather permits, try to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. This can re-energize you.
- And my last tip is to prioritize your sleep and practice self-care. Doing so may help you stay connected to yourself and more fully understand what you need in terms of work-life balance. Take your time figuring out how you can best take care of yourself and meet your needs.
- Be sure to prioritize unwinding at night and practice good sleeping habits.
- Exercise regularly.
- Practice meditation.
- Do yoga.
- Read during your downtime.
- Take naps.
- Listen to music you enjoy.
- Spend time with friends.
While working from home may provide a sense of freedom and flexibility, as well as a no-cost commute, there are hidden stressors to be aware of. So remember to be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you are learning how to be productive in a new work environment. Be realistic and make sure to unplug and relax when you are done.