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Working from Home (and Thriving)

Published on Jan. 22, 2021

Munson Healthcare work from home COVID-19

Working from home has become the new norm for many people. Love it or hate it, there’s a good chance that your 10-footstep commute will likely continue well into the new year. So if you’re stuck in a work-from-home rut – or your day-to-day life feels like it’s stuck on repeat – here are a few tips to help you get you through…and even thrive as you develop resiliency


1. Act Like You’re Still Going into Work

Working from the comfort of your pajamas? Skipping your morning shower? Or maybe your hair has two styles: wet or messy bun. While the lure of starting off each workday like a lazy Saturday morning seems comforting, there’s one key difference: unlike a leisure morning, you actually have to get some work done.

Creating a routine that mimics your pre-COVID morning rituals can jumpstart your day and help create a productive mindset. While it’s probably ok to skip the pantsuit or polished shoes, think about incorporating your normal morning habits:

  • Wake up at the same time each day, giving yourself at least an hour between wake-up time and office time.
  • If you’ve always exercised in the morning and recently stopped, consider picking this habit back up.
  • Shower and dress in casual or low-key office attire, such as a sweater, polo, or button-down.
  • Stick to your usual grooming routines – hair, shaving, etc.
  • Prepare a solid breakfast to energize your body for the day and have a healthy lunch prepped and ready to heat or unwrap, just like you might at work

2. Use a Designated Office Space

Still working from your kitchen table? Even if it’s just a small area in your living room or basement, consider carving out a space just for you that gives you a quiet place to focus and spread out. Add a plant, an essential oil diffuser, or your favorite picture of your kids. Make it a place you want to be. Still stumped for that magical space? Consider a corner in the living room or your bedroom, the landing at the top of a staircase, or a closet that doesn’t get used much.


3. Stick to a Schedule

Set your work hours and stick to them. If you’re normally on the clock during a specific time, commit to working inside of that window, rather than playing catch-up during off-hours.

Don’t be shy about taking those very needed breaks and use them for walks, social interaction (as best you can), and time spent away from your desk.


4. Avoid Total Isolation

Communicating by keyboard only? Since you’re missing the usual social interaction you get from the office, it’s easy to feel isolated. 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.

Make it a goal to pick up your phone at least once a day or using your office’s designated video chat tool instead of the usual email. Touching base with coworkers via the phone or a virtual meeting will do wonders for your emotional well-being (Yes, even for introverts!). This brings us to our next tip…


5. Take Breaks and Move More

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 several breaks throughout your day to make sure you’re standing up (at least once an hour), stretching, 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

There’s surviving – and then there’s thriving. Want to feel happy and energized rather than just okay? Embrace the outdoors (yes, even during the depths of winter).

Our prehistoric ancestors lived outdoors and were closely tied with nature. To survive, they needed to spot shelter, prey, and predator easily. While our way of life has changed dramatically since then, our brains are still mostly the same. We crave a connection with nature.

And research shows that when you get that connection with the great outdoors, it can have a big impact on how you feel. Spending time in nature may help reduce stress and symptoms of depressions, boost your energy and focus, and improve connections with others. And if you exercise outside, you might work harder without even realizing it—it might actually feel easier.

 It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, working all day, and then not have the motivation to get outside. Schedule in a 10-minute walk at lunch, play in the yard with your dog or kids, or just put on your jacket and walk out your back door, and breathe in the fresh air for a few minutes. Whatever it is, try to do something outside every day.


9. Don’t Burn Out

Without the normal routine of going to work and coming home, it can be tempting to overdo it. Don’t forget that working too much can actually be counterproductive!

In fact, a large body of research points to the dangers of overworking. Putting in too many hours can not only lead to work stress and a poor outlook on your job role but seep into other areas of your life as well, causing things like:

  • Depression

  • Sleep disorders

  • Increased alcohol/drug consumption

  • Medical conditions like type 2 diabetes or heart disease

  • Memory problems

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.


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