Many good things can emerge out of a bad situation. One of the good things that has resulted from the pandemic is the movement toward working from home.
Both employers and employees have found that this new way of doing things has increased productivity and reduced expenses. It is a win-win scenario.
However, if not managed properly, the life of a remote worker can be more stressful and exhausting than anticipated. The lines between work life and home life are blurred. The constant “to do” lists of both the office and the house now bombard your mind at the same time.
The shift to remote work requires a shift in the way things are done. Workers must go about their day in a much more mindful way, taking exquisitely good care of their time and health.
Working at the office provides external structure. But working from home means that you must impose your own structure to the day. It is always wise to identify a dedicated workspace within your home. If you can’t, think about some sort of physical ritual that indicates you are now at work, like putting on a work hat, turning on a certain light, or posting a sign on the refrigerator that says, “Mom/Dad is at work.”
Be sure to take frequent breaks throughout the workday. Research has revealed that taking a 15-minute break every 75 to 90 minutes will significantly boost productivity and help reduce burnout. Your cognitive ability steadily decreases the longer you attempt to hold focus so taking small breaks during your workday can help you recharge your brain.
An effective break is one by which you completely disconnect from your work. Take a short nap, stretch, walk or listen to relaxing music. Try doing a household task, like brushing the dog or loading the dishwasher in a slow, mindful, and meditative way. The important thing is to give your head a tiny bit of respite.
Focusing on your health and wellness is also important. Exercise is directly linked to creativity, energy and cognitive ability. Did you know that frequent aerobic exercise can increase the size of your hippocampus, which is the area of the brain associated with verbal memory and learning? Physical activity also releases endorphins, which can improve your mental wellbeing and decrease stress.
A healthy diet and good sleep habits are important too. It is so tempting to burn the midnight oil or pound the carbohydrates to finish that project. But poor eating and sleep habits decreases your ability to concentrate, demotivates you, makes you more irritable — all of which will most certainly cause burnout sooner rather than later.
Working from home means you save at least two hours a day by not having to dress up and drive to the office. So why not use those extra hours to do something fun with friends or family. This is the best medicine for the soul. It will make you a better worker and a better person.