For the past two months I have been challenged with working from home. What sounds like a vacation has proven to be creatively draining. It’s amazing how few things you have to talk about when you never seem to go anywhere! I was only a week into working from home when I thought, “Gosh, I really am not built for this.” That’s when I decided that I could make some changes to ensure I kept all the marbles in my head. Now that it’s been a couple months of actually implementing these in my life and seeing a positive change, it would be selfish to not spread the love.
1. Take a real lunch break.
This probably seems simple. But the #1 complain of those working from home is that they feel like they are ALWAYS working. The work-home boundary no longer REALLY exists. Without a commute, you might find yourself clocking in before 7am. Since you can’t take a break by walking to your co-workers desk or grabbing something from the vending machine, it’s important that you still give your mind those little breaks that it is use to. Not just important for your sanity but important for your efficiency. Taking a break gives your brain the time it needs to catch up and subconsciously sort out problem from throughout the day. Since you are home, you’re right by your kitchen and might even end up saving some money you previously spent on eating lunch out.
2. Make time to LEAVE THE HOUSE.
Your always home now, right? During the week, your main activity was driving to and from work. It might even be the social highlight of your week with the pandemic going on. If you’re stuck at home now, it’s crucial you still find time to physically leave your house. Don’t become the recluse that only leaves to go to the grocery store and spends 20 minutes chatting up the person at the cash register. Seriously, don’t.
Even with bars and movie theatres closed down there are plenty of things you can enjoy while staying safe. Early morning hikes at hidden trails, dropping off letters and packages to your friend’s doorstep instead of mailing, (USPS is so behind these days, it’s probably light years faster!) paddling boarding around Tempe Lake… heck, even a stroll through your own neighborhood can be freeing after a couple days indoors. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure you’re still visiting the real world every now and again, MASK ON! 🙂
3. Learn to love parts of your house.
Getting tired of seeing your kitchen table every day? Get moving! Choose a new room to work from each week. Get mobile when you can! Try out some different spaces until you find what works best for your day. You might end up finding a new spot in the house to spend your hours after work to unwind. Getting to work from home made me fall in love with my backyard again. Sitting on the porch, even when it’s 115 degrees out is still a nice way to get some vitamin D on my face and remind me there is life outside of my makeshift-home studio. I even added an herb box to give me a reason to spend more time enjoying my hard. It will be easier this fall when you can stand outside for more than 20 minutes. A quick dip in the pool in the middle of my shift is sometimes all I need to get my creative juices flowing again!
Find your own little “getaway” spot inside your home! You might have to get creative, maybe move some furniture around, but who cares! In fact, moving furniture around has been shown to improve mental health! When working from home, you need all the help you can get.
4. Have a dog.
I say have a dog, but it doesn’t have to be a dog. But having a critter at home with you definitely helps the day go by. There is a reason people bring puppies into hospitals. It’s because their energy is healing. Taking a quick break to pet or walk your dog can clear up that work fog and get you back on the creative path. Studies show that pet owners are less likely to have depression, live longer, and have less cholesterol! If you already have a furry (feathery, scaly, or slimy) friend in your life, you are in luck.
Every morning after I’m done planning out my work for the day, I take 30 minutes to walk my dogs and get some good play time in with them both. While I’m outside, enjoying some fresh air with them, I get my best ideas! Getting in a little adrenaline from the walk mixed with the naturally higher serotonin levels that are found when in the presence of your own pet, and there isn’t a single thing you can’t solve…. or at least that’s how you feel.
If you don’t yet have a pet, there won’t be a more perfect work situation for you to introduce a new family member into your life. You’ll be there to help them get acclimated and won’t have to deal with that guilty feeling from leaving them home all day. Lots of local animal rescues are running special deals, as they are at full capacity from lots of people being forced to rehome pets after losing jobs. If you’re not ready to commit to just one, this is a great opportunity to try out fostering some animals in need! Reach out to your local rescue today and start working better from home tomorrow!
The organization I’m familiar with around here is the Arizona Animal Welfare League (AAWL.) Last time I checked, they had quite a few puppies that were just born!
5. Adopt overall healthier lifestyle habits.
Stay active! This one might be the hardest for some people. You’ll never have more free time to work on adopting those healthier lifestyles you’re always talking about. Without that commute to and from work, you could have two more hours in your day you didn’t have before. Exercising before work is suddenly possible. You can actually make a meal at home without feeling so rushed. Even little things like walking around more during the day or wanting to get daily house chores done are finally more manageable.
My house has honestly never been cleaner. Instead of waiting on people to get back to my emails, I’m vacuuming the house, or brushing my dogs, sometimes I even have the time to deep clean the bathrooms.
You’ve already heard the science behind why adopting habits like this is good for you and is conducive to a more productive work day, but this time you don’t have the excuse to ignore it!
Try some of these things out and watch your attitude completely change about your work situation. If you’re working from home with your spouse however… I may need to write a different article for you. I only had to do that for two weeks and boy, was that eye opening. It wasn’t all bad, but learning to share one space for two different occupations is a whole new set of challenges to juggle. Despite the obstacle that was, having a supportive spouse around (or for some, a roommate) can make all the difference! If you have someone in your household working from home while you are not, there are lots of ways you can help make sure their mental health doesn’t crumble. Ask, “is there anything I can get on the way home?” Or offer to take them on a ride to somewhere to get them out of the house for a while. Maybe even jump in one morning by knocking out some chores so they don’t feel pressured that day to ‘do it all’ that day. I’ll be the first to say, cleaning the same stuff every single day is a quick way to make someone irritable.
If you feel you need some advice on that, LET ME KNOW by shooting an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be doing some posts on-demand.