As March approaches, many of us are coming up on our one-year anniversary of working from home. The COVID-19 pandemic has left workspaces empty and turned living rooms, bedrooms, and dining rooms into office spaces. As COVID continues to be a large threat and employers realize that employees are succeeding in the work from home environment, work from home is expected to become permanent through 2021.
While at first, work from home was an unexpected perk that made commutes shorter and allowed us to Zoom in to work through the comfort of our homes, as we are approaching the one-year mark, many of us are struggling to stay motivated. As the New Year begins and we are learning that this working arrangement is likely to continue, it is a great time to reset and refresh our ‘working from anywhere’ mindset and environment. We have put together our top ten tips and tricks to help you work at your best, live your best, and enjoy this new normal.
1) Maintain regular working hours
With your workspace now blurred with your living space, you might be tempted to sleep in and start work later or check your email long after your workday has ended. Blurring those lines between work and the rest of your life can cause added stress and anxiety. Depending on your job requirements, it might be difficult to maintain regular working hours, but there are some steps you can take to help maintain a better balance. Let colleagues know that you won’t be checking emails outside of work hours and that anything urgent should be a phone call. Go to bed and wake up at the same time daily so that you are ready to start and end work at the same time every day.
2) Develop a morning routine that works for you.
Not everyone is a morning person, but everyone can benefit from a morning routine. A morning routine helps signal to your body and mind that the day has started and gives you a sense of accomplishment to start your day. There are many activities you can incorporate into your morning routine, from activities as simple as brushing your teeth and making your bed to meditating or listening to a podcast. Pick a few things to do every morning that set you up for a successful day.
3) Get dressed
Before exams, students are often told, “dress well, test well”. Work can sometimes feel like a series of mini-tests, and dressing well can help you feel prepared for the challenges. It probably is not necessary to get fully dressed up as if you were going to work, but at minimum, change out of your pyjamas and put on clean clothes that make you feel good. Makeup, jewelry, and other accessories may also give you an extra boost.
4) Stick to a schedule
Before work from home, you likely had time on your calendar scheduled for lunch, coffee breaks, dinner, the gym, and other leisure activities. Maybe you also kept a detailed to-do list for your work tasks. Keeping that schedule during remote work can help you to get everything you need to get done accomplished while still having time for yourself. Planner apps and to-do lists work wonders in helping you sort out your day. Set specific times to work on certain projects, set up conference calls, and schedule time for breaks. Plus, it always feels great crossing an item off the list.
5) Have a dedicated and clean workspace
If you are not fortunate enough to have a private office, do your best to keep your workspace clean and separate from your living space. This will help keep work off your mind when it is not time to work. Put your work computer, work papers, and other work items out of sight in a closet, cabinet, or drawer when you are not working. Make your work environment just that, and place to work.
6) Stay connected to colleagues
With work from home paired with the realities of COVID, you might feel disconnected from people that you are used to seeing frequently. Similar to staying connected to family and friends, staying connected to colleagues through messaging apps or virtual meetings can help you feel connected to your workplace and give you an opportunity to express any support you need to do your best work.
Products and services like Slack or Microsoft teams are perfectly designed to keep team members in contact while working. See our list for the best company messaging apps to keep you connected.
7) Minimize distractions
While this tip might seem obvious, it can be easy to forget that from TV to social media and roommates to family, a home office is likely infinitely more distracting than your previous workspace. To help reduce distraction, turn off devices that you do not need to use, set social media timers, and communicate clear boundaries with those you live with.
8) Take breaks from being inside
Being in the same environment all day can be tiring and anxiety-provoking. To break up your day, take some time to go outside for a quick walk. If the weather does not permit you to leave home, try going to another area of your house for a change of scenery. Yoga, meditation, journaling, and reading are relaxing activities that can all be done inside in areas with limited space.
9) Address what is no longer working for you
After over 10 months of working from home, you probably have a mental list of things that you miss from your office or that just are not working for you. Is your Internet too slow? Spotty network access? Is your office chair too uncomfortable? Do you wish you could stock up on your favourite brand of coffee that is only available at the café near your office? Address a few of these nagging issues that have been bothering you.
10) Practice self-care
This might be the most important tip. With work, family responsibilities, catching up on the news, and trying to stay healthy, you might forget the importance of doing things that simply keep you happy. Remember to make time for things that bring you joy. There are countless self-care activities you can do to take care of yourself from getting your nails done or exercising to watching a movie or listening to music. Practice proper COVID safety tips while engaging in self-care. Importantly, remember self-care can include going to therapy or seeking other mental health care. Living through a pandemic is traumatic and it is a sign of strength to reach out when you need extra help.
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