In the current Covid-19 world, many people are required to work from home. This might be very new to you. I would like to share some of our tips that may help you navigate this new reality.
After leaving our full time office jobs more than 3 years ago, we have had to learn how to adapt to working from home, where home was frequently in a new city every few months.
In short, you should try and recreate the work day lifestyle. That is, getting up, getting dressed, going to your workplace, leaving your workplace and returning home.
It is important to establish a routine. Set yourself a time for getting up each day. Set an alarm, and no don’t snooze the alarm – get up! Set the start and end time for your work, and stick to this. It’s about maximizing the time you have rather than a fuzzy time of procrastination and distraction. Working from home can cause life and work to bleed into each other and so it is important to draw lines between them for your mental well-being.
When you are working from home, there is no one to track your working hours. You don’t have a boss in the office checking up on you. Working from home requires setting rules and following them. A little delay, a little break is ok – there has to be a perk to being your own boss. Be careful, it is a slippery slope to spending hours in front of the TV or catching up on your social media.
Not having to commute might mean you can get up later. Better yet find something useful to do with this time. You might want to get some exercise, have a coffee and spend time in reflection, or how about more time to spend in God’s word.
Tempting as it might be, don’t work in your pyjamas. Get dressed, it might not be your suit and tie, but you need to get your mind from your home zone to your work zone. There is a psychological benefit to dressing for your job when you’re at home. During the course of your work it is likely that you will be talking to colleagues using video-chatting platforms. Far better that they see you dressed for work than in your pyjamas.
Quite simply, what you wear sets the tone for your work day and prepares you for the tasks at hand.
Going to work
Create a Home Office
It’s called a “home office” for a reason. Working from your bed may not be a great idea because you’ll be tempted to sleep or relax. Working in your living room in front of your TV may not be a great idea because you’ll be tempted to watch it. Instead, create a designated working space; it doesn’t have to be a whole room, but ideally it should be a distraction-free setting that isn’t used for any other purpose. Arriving at your designated “home office” will set a tone of diligence and focus on work for the rest of the day.
Create a Morning Routine
Deciding you’ll sit down at your desk and start work at a certain time is one thing. Creating a routine that guides you into the chair is another. It might be making a cup of coffee. In our case we say, “I’m off to work now”. Create a morning routine that has you starting work.
Set Ground Rules with the People in Your Space
Set ground rules with other people in your home or who share your space where you work. If you do have a dedicated home office, whether children are allowed in your office during working hours is one of the most basic decisions you will need to make. If you have frequent phone or video meetings, you may need a closed door policy. If you do allow children in your office, then you’ll likely need some rules. They can be simple enough that even toddlers can follow: knock before entering or never enter when you are on the phone.
In most office environments you take regular breaks. Breaks for coffee, toilet breaks, chats at the ‘watercooler’. Give yourself time during the day to walk away from the computer screen and phone.
Don’t short-change yourself during breaks, especially your lunch hour. You should try to leave your home at least once a day. Your body needs to move. Plus, the fresh air and natural light will do you good. Take a walk.
The lack of differentiation between work time and home time, can cause the work day can stretch on indefinitely. To avoid burnout, learn how to leave work at work, even if you work from home.
Just as you should start your day with a routine, create a habit that signals the close of the workday. It might be an evening dog walk, or a 6 p.m. yoga class. You might have a simple routine such as shutting down your computer and turning on a favourite podcast. We have a friend who will light some candles to signal the end of her workday. Whatever you choose, do it consistently to mark the end of working hours.
Quit checking your work emails
Having set work hours is a must. Checking work emails during your downtime can make it impossible to relax and truly have a break from work.
The ‘always on’ business culture is often disguised as a benefit—increased convenience or allowing greater control over work-life boundaries. The reality is that flexible work boundaries often turn into ‘work without boundaries,’ compromising you and your family’s health and well-being.
Letting your employer and/or clients know that you’re unavailable outside of office hours isn’t a selfish or unprofessional act. It’s a necessary one. By setting reasonable boundaries, you can create a distinction between your work time and your free time.
Exercise is a great stress reliever and a powerful tool to try as you figure out how to leave work at home when you work from home. Going to the gym or heading out going for a run creates physical distance from your work, and the benefits don’t end there.
At the end of a long day, getting out of your home and engaging in some form of exercise will help you unwind and release tension. While not everybody loves running round and round on a treadmill, there’s a wealth of options out there. Take the time to explore different types of activity to determine what works for you.
Spend your free time socializing
Struggling with how to leave work at work when you work from home? Socializing could be the answer. Even if you’re tired at the end of the day, forcing yourself to go out and see people may help you detach from your professional responsibilities and replenish your energy. In the current environment where you can’t go out, pick the phone or schedule a video chat with a friend.
Start prioritizing your social life. Whether you have a large circle of friends or just a few close buddies, be certain to make time for them. While you don’t have to make plans each evening, ensuring that you have two or three social engagements each week could make all the difference.
Tip: Arrange to meet people immediately after your working day finishes. That way, you’ll have a definitive cut off point to your day and someone to celebrate it with.
Time to disconnect and recharge!
Shutting down your laptop is one thing—shutting down your brain is quite another. However, recharging your mental batteries each evening means that you can come back to work refreshed and ready to fight another day. If you’ve been struggling with how to leave work at work when you work from home, try some of the above mentioned tips. You never know, you might just find that they are the key to truly powering down for the evening.