Amidst the coronavirus chaos in the U.S., millions of Americans have gone from regular commute to telecommute, and the effects on all of us have been massive. Where we once exchanged face-to-face support with co-workers, we now rely on video conferencing and instant messaging to communicate. Where we once worried about what to wear to impress prospective clients & bring our A-game to big meetings, we now spend the days in our comfiest sweats. To put it mildly, it has taken some serious getting used to.
While work from home life certainly brings benefits — most importantly, the potential to flatten the curve and lessen the impact on our already-taxed healthcare system — it can sometimes feel like the WFH sitch is not as great as the introvert in us thought it would be. But if you put some effort into the three S’s — self-care, structure and space — you’ll undoubtedly come out on the other side as a remote work queen. Here are our best tips for making WFH a little less WTF.
Self-Care: Stay Hydrated and Stay Healthy
Sunday meal prep, weekday soul cycle, lunch break yoga. They’re all on hold. Now we have to make a conscious effort to eat healthy at lunch, keep refilling our reusable water bottles throughout the day and resist the urge to break into the reserve pack of cookies and rosé (no judgment). Here are a few essential WFH self-care tips.
- Invest in a glass water bottle. Hydration is key to staying healthy and focused, so don’t forget to hit your daily water goals. A glass water bottle is the ideal choice because it’s dishwasher safe, and that’s so clutch during a pandemic.
- Take lunch break walks. Getting a bit of fresh air throughout the day will help you boost blood flow and get your recommended daily dose of vitamin D. Just make sure to practice social distancing and stay six feet from people, to be safe.
- Meal prep on Sundays. When you know you’ll be working from home for the week, planning meals seems pointless. You can just head to the fridge and whip up a salad, right? Honestly, no. You’ll be just as busy and sucked into your work as you would be any other week, so pre-plan your lunches so you’re not tempted by junk food (or accidently forget to eat).
- Send invites for social time after work. Sending out video call calendar invites to your friends is a weird thing to do any other time, but it’s totally acceptable now. Have a virtual happy hour with your pals via Zoom, Houseparty, or
- Do virtual workouts at lunch. These days, lunchtime is the best time to get sweaty, as it breaks up the workday and doesn’t require you to pack multiple outfits or shower midday since you’ll be at home. Do your livestream yoga or cardio at lunch.
- Work from your porch, patio, or roofdeck. Sunshine and fresh air are good for you, plain and simple. When it warms up, spend some time logging a few work hours outside.
Structure or Flexibility: Do What Works for You
These times are stressful and unprecedented and you need to come up with a work from home strategy that actually works for you. Whether you have roommates, kids or have lost your job and are applying full-time, it’s important to go easy on yourself and know that this is a time where flexibility may be warranted. However, if you find that sticking to a more rigid schedule works best for you — that’s great too!
If you prefer to stick to a structured schedule…
- Set working hours on your Google cal. Marking your work hours on your calendar automatically declines any meetings outside of your designated work period. It will also help you remember when you should be “on” and when you should be “off.”
- Use do not disturb mode. Whether it be on Slack, email or your work phone, the do not disturb function exists for a reason. Create a rule so that you don’t get any calls, texts or notifications during off hours. Remember, just because you’re not in the office and presumably have more free time doesn’t mean you should be available at all times to work.
- Keep your alarm on. When you don’t have to get ready or commute, why rush to get up? Actually, it’s super-important to keep your normal sleep-wake routine during this time, as it will help you stay focused and ensure that you’re getting enough rest.
But don’t be too stressed if flexibility would work better for you…
A rigid schedule isn’t the solution for everyone and may prove impossible for you right now for any number of reasons. Like if you have little kids at home, if you have to play the role of homeschool teacher, or if you have elderly parents that you need to help out with. Talk with your employer about what will make you the most productive these difficult days. Most people understand this isn’t going to last forever and these are exceptionally difficult times. Most managers would probably do anything they can to make things easier for you.
Space: Creating a Home Office Where You Can Focus
Where you work has a huge impact on how you work. Temperature, air quality, noise and lighting affect how well you concentrate and how productive you are throughout the day. Many companies have complete HR departments and pros dedicated to figuring out the best and most productive environment for their workforce. But that’s all on you now. Here are some great ways to make your space productivity-focused.
- Get a second monitor. If you’re used to working on two screens at work, it’s going to be a major downer if you have to downsize to a laptop screen at home. Keep the productivity going with an extra monitor or a larger screen.
- Decorate with plants. Plants remind you of life, vitality and the outdoors, and when you’re stuck at home all day, they can bring a really big mood boost! If possible, let the natural light stream in, too. This will provide some soothing energy.
- Get a sit-stand desk or ask if you can bring yours home. The right desk and office chair can help prevent the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle while getting your blood flowing and keeping you healthy.
- Take that aromatherapy candle out of the box (that someone gifted you years ago) and light it. Candles can help you feel calm or energized while you work.
- Accessorize your work space with things that you would have on your desk at the office that make you comfortable, happy, and all set to be productive, like your favorite mug and a lip balm water bottle in a color intended to calm nerves. We all need to set worries aside as much as possible in order to be productive and little things do make a difference.
Maintaining Some Normalcy
At the end of the day, all of these tips are meant to help reintroduce some level of normalcy, and that’s something we all could use more of right now. As we wait out the pandemic together (but apart), it’s healthy to find comfort in routine and structure as we work, exercise, play and socialize from home. We wish you wellness, sanity, and hopefully productivity as you work from home.