In order to curb the rising rates of coronavirus infections, many companies have agreed their employees should continue to work from home. Now while it seems like a great idea, it can take some getting used to. In fact, it can be hard to maintain a work-life balance when you’re working in the same space that you’re not technically allowed to leave because doing so may jeopardize your health.
Why is work-life balance important?
Letting your professional life take over your entire life can leave you feeling stressed and less in control and this of course not only negatively impacts your job performance, but it can also be detrimental to your health.
A work-life balance helps to create an environment where you’re not overworking, but you’re still productive enough to have some free time to spend on yourself or with those closest to you. A healthy work-life balance will keep you happier, prevent burnout, and leave you more motivated.
Now while we do struggle from time to time when it comes to maintaining this balance, recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic has made maintaining this balance even trickier.
That said while working exclusively from home can blur the lines between your professional and personal life, you’ll be happy to know that there are steps you can take to better manage your health, your career, and your home, even while they’re all in the same space.
11 ways to have a healthy work from home life
1. Stick to a normal sleep schedule
You may have pushed all your morning meetings to the afternoon, especially after binge-watching Netflix shows well into the night, but it’s important to stick to your normal sleep schedule.
Too little, or too much sleep, can affect sleep quality, and we all know that sleep quality not only harms your productivity but it can also increase the risk for health issues such as diabetes and heart disease.
If you’re battling with stress-related sleeping issues, there are steps you can take to ensure that you get proper rest.
2. Have a morning routine
Rolling over and checking emails on your phone as soon as you wake up does sound easier, but it’s important to create a morning routine when working from home.
Yes, you don’t have to rush around the same way you did when you were working from the office, but it’s still important to get ready for the day the way you normally would. This will give you time to properly wake yourself up and mentally prepare for the day. Set an alarm clock, eat breakfast, and make sure to take a shower. Speaking of which, that brings us to the next point.
3. Get dressed
Life seems better when you’re in pajamas but getting dressed and switching out of your pj’s into some work clothes can help to better prepare both your mind and body for a workday.
Dress for work, certainly something less casual than your favorite pj’s will help you feel like you’re working. You’ll be surprised how the impact of your wardrobe can affect your productivity. For instance, one study found that people who thought they were wearing a doctor’s lab coat showed increased performance on attention-related tasks, whereas those who wore a painter’s coat weren’t as attentive.
4. Stick to your regular hours
It’s easy to find yourself working into the night, especially when you don’t have any plans the next day, but it’s important to set “working hours.”
Shut down your computer at the time that you’d normally leave the office and let your colleagues and supervisor know so that you’re less likely to receive emails during your non-working hours.
You can even make post-work plans to ensure that you stick to your working hours. These plans can include a scheduled phone call with family or even joining a Netflix-watch party for movie night.
5. Create a designated workspace
As comfortable as your bed is, it’s important to only use it for sleep and romance.
If you don’t have a spare room in the house that you can use an office, create a space in your home that is organized and comfortable as well as one that you can efficiently work from.
It’s best to stay clear of the couch and bedroom as these two places are associated with relaxation and avoid all distractions and thus includes switching off the TV and keeping the kids or pets in a separate room. Keep your kids entertained with books, puzzles and other stimulating activities.
Choose a chair for your workspace that keeps your spine properly aligned as this not only protects spinal health but it also helps to boost attention and productivity.
6. Make a to-do list
Creating a to-do list is a great way to improve your productivity and better adhere to deadlines.
Furthermore, by accomplishing all your daily goals, you won’t feel any of the guilt that employees often feel when working from home and thus you’ll be more open to logging off when necessary.
7. Take a lunch break
Now you may be used to eating lunch in front of your computer, or during a meeting, but now you have the opportunity to take a much more conventional lunch break.
Setting aside 30 minutes to eat lunch will help you recharge for the rest of the workday Make sure to eat away from your computer to reduce the risk of overeating.
It’s also important that you eat the right foods. Junk food cravings seem to be higher when you’re working from home, especially when you’re stressed.
Choose foods that boost brainpower, as well as those that help protect your immune system. Keep healthy snacks on hand like veggies and hummus, fresh fruits as well as seeds and nuts.
It can be easy to work for hours at a time without taking a break, especially if you’re comfortable. But this behavior is only going to harm you in the long run. What’s more, research has found that taking breaks can significantly improve productivity levels.
You can use a timer or app that will remind you to get up and stretch every hour. If possible, you should also go outside once a day (don’t forget your mask). Fresh air and some vitamin D can boost your mental health and productivity.
9. Touch base with your colleagues
One of the biggest causes of cabin fever is the lack of social connection. So, just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that you should forgo maintaining social connections with your work buddies.
10. Stay active
If you’re used to heading to the gym before or after the office, then it’s important that you maintain this schedule. Aside from the fact that it can improve immune function, staying active can also help you process information better.
11. Set aside self-care time
In addition to making sure your work gets done, it’s also important to set aside some self-care time. You can do this in the morning before you start your day or later in the evening. It can take the form of mediation, journaling, or even reading a chapter out of your book.
It’s just important to find some time to disconnect from the world and let yourself unwind.
Want to know more?
Are you looking to stay active, but you just can’t seem to get moving? It can be hard to find the motivation to move, especially in a pandemic, but there are ways to workout, especially when you don’t feel like it.
Adam, H., Galinsky, A. (2012). Enclothed cognition, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 48, Issue 4, Pages 918-925, ISSN 0022-1031, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2012.02.008
Nieman, D.C., Wentz, L.M. (2019). The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense system. Journal of Sport and Health Science, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 201-217, ISSN 2095-2546, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jshs.2018.09.009