Because of COVID-19, nearly the whole nation is working from home. Some people love it, while others find it challenging at best (and excruciating at worst!). Some people thrive in the quietness and solitude of their house, while others are longing for noise and interaction.
No matter what camp you’re in, we all need some help sometimes avoiding the inevitable unrest and fatigue that will come from this drastic change in our working environment.
Here are 7 quick keys to staying sharp in your home office until the Stay-At-Home orders are lifted and you can get back to the comforts of your cubicle and the water cooler!
1. Maintain a daily schedule.
It would be very easy to sleep late and burn the midnight oil. However, that may not produce the most effective results. Pretend like you’re going into the office and run your day on office hours. Open your computer at 8:00 am and aim to close it at 5:00 pm. Create boundaries around those times and avoid being drawn into video meetings or phone calls after hours.
2. Work at a desk or table.
It will be tempting to set up your office on the couch. While this may work for a while, eventually your posture will suffer and your work will, too. Find a desk or set up your office on the kitchen table. Sit in a chair with a firm back and keep your feet on the floor. The simple act of working on a flat surface will produce better results than simply sitting cross-legged with your laptop on your lap.
3. Take breaks.
Don’t force yourself to work straight through ‘til 5:00 pm! Get up. Walk around. Put a load of laundry in. Make lunch. Take the meat out of the freezer for dinner. Go and get the mail. Take time during the day to stretch your legs and refresh your mind. It will definitely produce a sharper working mindset and help you to be more effective.
4. Get dressed.
Who among us hasn’t reported to our work from home hours in our pajamas? It is natural and necessary every once in a while. However, to train your mind to do the real work that you’re being paid to do, put on real clothes. It will trick your mind into thinking you’re going into the office. This will help you focus and get more work done as a result. This is especially important if you’ll be on video calls. You want to look your best to perform your best.
5. Go for a midday walk.
One of the most important breaks you can take will be a midday walk. Take the dog for a 30-60 minute walk during your lunch hour. Get outside. Get some fresh air. Visit with a neighbor (keeping physical distance!). This will rejuvenate your senses and give you a boost of energy for your afternoon work session.
6. Eat healthily.
It will be tempting to graze through your fridge and cupboards all day for all manner of snacks and meals. However, do your best to eat a healthy, high protein meal for lunch, and keep your snacks to fruits and veggies. Remember to hydrate with water. All these healthy eating habits will power your brain with a good amount of energy that will help you to focus on the work you have to do.
7. Interact with others.
Working from home can be a solitary exercise. During the “shelter-in-place” time, it could be days before you see or talk to anyone other than your spouse, your children, or your cat. Schedule video calls with your co-workers. Have check-in meetings at least once a week with your staff. Send text messages. Update your social media. Do whatever you can to reach out intentionally to other human beings. The interaction will restore your soul and make you a better person and a better worker.
Working from home doesn’t have to be an awful, isolating experience. With a little effort and intentionality, we can all make this time at home productive and meaningful, even as our environment is different and changing.