To the average person in their twenties with no kids, having the chance to work from home sounds like a dream come true: rolling out of bed after sleeping in until 9, no dozens of snoozed alarms or rush hour traffic; staying in bed all day, taking calls with your team in your PJs; all while getting paid. It almost feels like you’re the CEO of your own start-up.
For the first day.
Maybe the second and third day too. But after a while, it gets old. You start to miss water cooler chats with colleagues in the kitchen and actually brushing your hair in the morning. You get cabin fever in your own bedroom and long for your ergonomic work chair and the annoying chewing of your desk neighbour that used to drive you mad.
During these uncertain times brought on by a certain pandemic that’s swept up the world (shout-out to Covid-19), many countries have shut down their borders, non-essential stores and thus workplaces have opted to send their workers to work from home, to slow the spread of the virus. For parents, it’s a nightmare. For everyone else, we were ecstatic.
Whether you got the subtle warnings that management will be “monitoring productivity” or not, you still have a job to do at the end of the day – this isn’t a vacation (on the record). To avoid going crazy or even just going straight up lazy, here are some tips on how to survive and thrive for the next 3 weeks:
1. Wake Up Early and Get Dressed
As easy as it is to not wake up early when no one is monitoring what time you walk in through those office doors, you should try and maintain as close to a routine as you would when you would normally go into work. This helps you to not disturb your circadian rhythm and helps your body to remember that it is a workday and not a weekend. In addition to that, whether you’re seeing people or not, get ready as you normally would, including coiffing yourself and getting dressed. It is the classic “look good, feel good, do good” – some people can be productive in PJs. However, some places/items you generally associate with a certain activity/mood. For example, to most, PJs indicate relaxation and sleep – two things that generally don’t encourage productivity and focus. So throw on your work shirt and get going!
2. Create a Morning Routine
Since you’ve woken up at your usual time, take this opportunity to do what you usually would on a work morning, or what you wish you could if you had extra time (which you now do, thanks to no commute!). Maybe have a cup of tea while listening to a podcast, maybe do some morning yoga, have a shower, or just start work early and end early. A morning routine will help you create a smooth transition from waking up to starting work. I usually do my workouts in the morning, but my bootcamp officially closed yesterday. So my morning routine has consisted of a HIIT online workout video (whichever one appeals to me on YouTube that day), a shower and a more elaborate breakfast than I usually would have on a typical workday. Make your morning yours!
3. Ensure You Have a Proper Workspace
A proper workspace is essential to a productive work from home day. Make sure you have good lighting, good temperature (cooler is better than warm), a comfortable desk and chair set-up, and even a monitor or two so that you’re not hunched over a tiny laptop. Make sure it’s in a quiet area of the house if you live with unemployed roommates or retired parents.
4. Take Breaks
Make sure you take regular breaks! Chances are you usually break up your workday by chatting up your coworkers, but when working from home, you can find yourself staring at your monitor for hours at a time with no breaks. Every hour, take a short break: have a stretch, go for a walk outside, FaceTime a friend, chat with your parents/roommates/siblings, make yourself a cool smoothie, or just close your eyes for a bit. Make sure you give yourself both physical and mental breaks throughout the day to avoid draining yourself and change them up daily, as routine can get a bit much after a while.
5. Practice Self-Care
Last but definitely not least, which links to the previous point: practice self-care, especially if you’re feeling a lot of anxiety with regards to the uncertainty relating to the virus. It can be nerve-wracking for some to feel out of control and the idea of “quarantine” can be scary. However, this too shall pass, and as we’ve learned on this blog and in real life, you should always make the best of any situation. I am taking this time at home to practice all the self-care I sometimes neglect in the hustle and bustle of daily life: I’m singing in my workspace to relieve tension, lighting candles at my workspace of scents that make me feel calm and peaceful, and re-evaluating goals I had for myself and transforming them into new ones. Think of what self-care means to you, and take advantage of the pause that the world has taken – it might just be what you need to get back on track.