Many Americans now find themselves welcomed to the wonderful world of telecommuting — even if they didn’t request the perk. That’s OK. Working from home offers a ton of advantages, not the least of which is starting the day minus a stressful commute.
That said, you might feel tempted to fall into negative habits during this time. To keep yourself healthy and productive, you need to establish a new routine quickly. Follow these tips to make the most of working from home.
The best way to feel less adrift in a stormy sea is to establish a new schedule quickly. Otherwise, you wake up in the morning, thinking, “Now what?” Sit down and design what you want your day to look like. Try starting in a healthful way, such as by performing 10 minutes of yoga and meditation in bed before rising.
Each Sunday evening, write down a schedule for the coming week. Include things like meals and exercise. This process helps you keep your time from escaping you and racing frantically to complete tasks at days’ end.
The most substantial challenge many new telecommuters make is keeping in touch with colleagues and supervisors. When you work in the office, they can see you work, but how do you keep them apprised of progress when you’re not there? More critically, how can you keep from losing your mind with loneliness? After all, depression is the No. 1 cause of disability in people aged 15-44, many of whom now find themselves homebound.
Exchange your cellphone number with your top contacts at work if you haven’t already. Find out what software your organization uses, such as Slack or Mango, to keep in touch and learn how to use it.
When you work from home, you can scarf your way through an entire bag of chips before you know it. While the office limits you to what you brown bag, you now have a whole kitchen at your disposal.
If you find yourself with more time on your hands, use it to prepare healthy meals you can grab during the workday. Items such as burritos freeze well, and you can zap them in the microwave in minutes.
Exercise can serve as a rudder during what feels like a directionless time. Make a plan to get at least 150 minutes of moderate workouts each week. Add some strength training by investing in inexpensive resistance bands or light hand weights that you can keep under your couch. Flexibility matters, too. You don’t have to do yoga for hours, but YouTube has a ton of brief free workouts you can do during TV commercial breaks.
You might feel little urge to go to bed on time if you don’t have to wake up to an alarm. However, maintaining a regular sleep schedule can help you feel less lost — plus, it benefits your health. When you keep irregular sleep patterns, you increase your risk for high blood pressure, obesity and chronic health problems.
Keep your electronics out of the bedroom — this prevents you from checking during the night. The blue light can interrupt your melatonin levels, making catching Zs more challenging. If you find sleep elusive, read quietly or fix yourself a cup of chamomile tea.
You can safely go outdoors for solo exercise as long as you’re not sick, so lace up your sneakers and take a walk. If you don’t feel up for a hike, try sitting outside on your balcony to enjoy an iced tea. Have the kids organize a campout on your back porch. Research indicates that fresh air benefits your mental health, so consider spending time in nature part of your daily prescription.
When you telecommute, it can prove challenging to draw the line between work and home life — especially if you have kids stuck at home, too.
Design a routine that serves as a disconnect between your work life and family time. If you have a dedicated home office, close the door. Other ideas include making a cup of tea or spending 10 minutes talking about your respective days with family.
Right now, you probably feel significant amounts of uncertainty, especially if you recently transitioned to telecommuting. Use a few simple tips to keep yourself mentally and physically strong throughout this troubled time.