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Working from Home (and Thriving)

Published on May 01, 2020

By Brittany Miller, Wellness Coordinator for Munson Healthcare

Munson Healthcare work from home COVID-19

Now that you’re somewhat settled into your new work-from-home normal, you might be feeling a different set of emotions that aren’t quite so… joyous. The perks that may originally have excited you (like cozy sweatpants and the comforts of home) may be quickly fading as you long for the days when you actually got dressed for work, bonded with your coworkers over a cup of coffee, or clocked more than 500 steps on your activity tracker by noon. Now, it seems, the walls of your home “office” are started to feel like they’re caving in, your dog looks disappointed, and no one warned you how difficult it would be trying to focus with your kids screaming in the other room. How in the world did you think you’d be more productive? 

New situations call for new skills and an open mind. So if you’re stuck in a work-from-home rut, cut yourself a little slack and try a few of these tips below that will not only help you stay sane, but allow you to thrive. 

1. Act like you’re still going into work

This is a nice tip to start out with if you haven’t already (and we suggest giving it a full week to kick in). It might be tempting to work from your bed, wear pajamas, and skip shaving or doing your hair, but these routines are actually helpful. They keep us in the mindset that although we’re not physically in the office, we’re still here to do our work and be productive.

2. Create an office space

Whether you have a separate room or if it’s just a small area in your dining room, carve out your own space just for work. Add a plant, an essential oil diffuser, or your favorite picture of your kids. Make it a place you want to be until you can safely return back to your office and teammates.

3. Stick to a schedule

Set your work hours and stick to them. Be sure to work in time for walks, social interaction (as best you can), and time spent away from your desk.

4. Avoid total isolation

It’s easy to get used to using only communicating with a keyboard. Why deal with a phone call when you can just as easily send a Slack message or email? There’s a quick answer for this: social interaction is vital for emotional well-being (Yes, even for introverts). Make a point to have a phone call instead of emailing or set aside 10 minutes for a quick Skype or Zoom video call to touch base on a project, even if it could just as easily be discussed via chat. It might seem like a blessing to no longer have the distractions of the office chitter chatter, but staying connected is actually important to your productivity. Which brings us to our next tip…

5. Take breaks

The normal social interruptions you get at work, such as walking down the hall to fill up your water bottle or chatting with co-workers about your weekend, can disappear when you work from home. Schedule in a couple breaks throughout your day to make sure you’re standing up (at least once an hour), getting some steps in, and interacting with others.

6. Avoid distractions

Limit distractions that you have control over. Turn off the notifications on your phone for social media, keep the TV off, and close the door if you can.

7. Boundaries for kids

One of the hardest parts about working from home when you have a family is keeping the kids busy so you can keep up with work. If you haven’t already, set boundaries for the times you’re able to take breaks and stick to them. Kids need routines, so knowing you’re available to play at specific times of the day is helpful and reassuring. Even better – give your kids a schedule of their own with chores, school work, and play time. You might even try giving them a task or two to help you with your own work!

8. Get outside

This is probably one of the most important tips. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, working all day, and then not have the motivation to get outside. Being in nature, even something as simple as walking out your back door and breathing in the fresh air, does wonders for mental and emotional well-being. Schedule in a 10 minute walk at lunch, play in the yard with your dog or kids, or just sit and read a book on your porch to relax at the end of your workday. Whatever it is, try to do something outside every day.

9. Don’t burn out

Without the normal routine of going into work and coming home, it can be tempting to overdo it. Don’t forget that working too much can be counterproductive. Give yourself a break to decompress and let it all go, before the next day starts again. You will be more refreshed and have a clearer mind to tackle all that needs to get done.