How to stay happy, healthy & motivated while working from home
Let’s face it; we have all, at some point in our career, fantasised about working from home! Zero commute, more time with family, the ability to go for a lunch time run, plus access to all your home comforts. It all seems very appealing right?
We never assumed that there would be any sort of downside to being able to carry on our work at home. However, it can be filled with distractions you simply don’t encounter at work, especially if you have other people around, whether they are working from home or not, or perhaps you have children trying to get school work done. The lines between work and non-work are blurring in new and unusual ways and if you are working remotely for the first time you may be struggling to preserve healthy boundaries between your professional role and your home life.
There is a chance, if you are not enjoying it as much as you thought you would, you’ve reached a level of burn-out trying to juggle everything, which is affecting your motivation to stay happy and healthy at home.
Here are 8 steps to help keep you on track and bring a whole new wave of positivity to your working from home life-balance:
1. Create a home-office space
Some of us can just open the laptop from any area of the house and be able to work. However, if you are finding it hard to concentrate, try creating a space purely for your work. This way, your mind will automatically go to ‘work-mode’ when you are in this space. It will also allow you to relax outside of office hours.
If you have been asked to work from home by your Company, there is a good chance your organisation has allocated a budget specifically to set up employees to work from home. This may cover the supply of the right equipment to do your job effectively including things like a separate phone line or work mobile phone, laptop, PC and printer. It’s worth asking whether they will also cover the perfect ergonomic chair or standing desk, especially if you already use these at the office!
2. Use your diary
Distractions are very real when you are working from home. Whether it is the children, your neighbours, the postman, the dog, or the household chores, you may find it hard to keep up with all the Zoom meetings, calls and your priorities for the day. It is important to make sure you continue to use your diary even if you are not out and about meeting people face to face. Use your diary to remind yourself, every morning, of your objectives and plans for the day to stay on track!
The Harvard Business School undertook research to understand the benefits of keeping a work diary. It concluded there are four reasons for keeping a work diary: 1. Focus 2. Patience 3. Planning and 4. Personal Growth.
The fourth benefit for diarists, personal growth, is perhaps the most important. Keeping regular work diaries, which took no more than ten minutes a day, gave many of our research participants a new perspective on themselves as professionals and what they needed to improve. As one of them said in reviewing his work diary:
“I saw that my comments seemed to reflect a pessimistic tone which, in retrospect, may have been unwarranted. I now try to approach projects with a more optimistic frame of mind.”
Harvard Business Review
3. Dress for work
You may be tempted to sit in your pyjamas, gym clothes or your dressing gown all day but that will only stop your brain from processing the social indicator boundaries of work and home. This may lead to you being unable to shift from ‘home you’ to ‘work you’ making you too relaxed and less focused – so get yourself up, get dressed and get yourself ready physically and mentally for the day ahead!
Many research studies have concluded that our clothes systematically influence wearers’ psychological processes.
Wearing the right clothes affect the way we work and the decisions we make. According to a study by Associate Professor Michael Slepian from Columbia Business School, wearing formal work wear enhances cognitive processing and inspires more action.
4. Set-up virtual coffee breaks
Without an office it is more difficult to spark great ideas. We love the concept of setting up virtual coffee breaks with your team. Just 15 minutes of video chat with your colleagues a day can help you reconnect and provide a sense of normality and work community. A quick break away from work; connecting with others, even if it’s just briefly, can help you keep your motivation on track for the rest of the day!
Use your virtual coffee break to ensure your colleagues and employees are happy and healthy working from home. Re-engage your active listening skills:
Pay attention – try and ensure active eye contact and give the person speaking your full attention. Doing this virtually can be a little harder, so make sure your camera is facing the right way!
Use body language – lean into your camera, sit up and make sure your posture is inviting. Use your facial expressions to show you are listening.
Para-phrase the conversation – it’s a great way to show you are listening by repeating some of what is being said. Use questioning to make the speaker feel like you are concerned or interested.
Stay silent – interrupting when someone else is speaking can make that person feel you are dismissing their views. Keep your questions or further statements until they have finished their point.
Active listening is a learned skill and, when used in the workplace, can be very beneficial in building professional relationships with your colleagues. Become an active listener by paying attention, showing your understanding and responding appropriately.
5. Avoid eating at your desk
Keeping your food intake in check can be tough when you’re working from home, there is plenty of food available unlike at the office; you are free to snack all day. This habit can wreak havoc on your healthy food balance and sabotage healthy eating. By creating break times to eat healthy snacks and lunch away from your desk, you are allowing your mind set to stay focused and proactive during the working day. With the added bonus of minimising the risk of an expanding waistline from regular trips to the fridge! It’s a well-known fact, when you are eating balanced snacks and meals you will fuel your brain to work efficiently; hence the saying ‘food for thought’.
The most productive way you can stick to your healthy goals is to prep your food. Whether you prep ingredients for one meal or prepare all your meals for the week, any amount of time spent meal prepping yields big returns and avoids those endless trips to the fridge. Not sure how to start prepping your food, check out our article on Meal Preparation and Planning.
6. Stay hydrated
Drink plenty of water throughout the day; it is great for brain function and is also found to combat tiredness and fatigue. Just as you may have had a water bottle on your desk at the office, keep water next to your home workstation too. Avoid sugar-loaded soda or juice and keep your water plain or jazz it up with fresh fruit.
There is a direct link between cognitive performance and dehydration. To help you keep your brain functioning at its optimum level and stop your body becoming dehydrated, why not try using a Daily Water Tracker App on your phone. There are many to choose from, most will remind you to drink water throughout the day. Some will allow you to track your daily and weekly intake for better health.
7. Know when to log-off
We know you are dedicated and determined to get those tasks done but if you are always online and always available it becomes the norm which is a difficult pattern to break. It can be challenging in our normal 24/7; always connected world, so it’s a great idea to ensure you keep to your normal working hours, its important to keep distractions to a minimum by closing down apps or turn your phone to silent where possible as they may take your focus elsewhere, to ensure you are working productively throughout your day.
If you can, have a separate mobile phone for work and home. It’s not ideal, but it will allow you to turn off your work phone without then being unconnected to your friends and family! Remember, ‘family time’ or ‘me time’ is precious and will help you to feel rejuvenated, ready to start afresh the next day!
8. Replace your commute time wisely
Working from home can give you those additional commuting hours back. Rather than changing your alarm clock, keep your body and mind active by adding new elements to your fitness routine. Take an early morning run to get those brain cells pumping or wake yourself with a simple home workout and spend your usual homeward-bound journey embracing yoga to help you relax and switch into home-mode.
Use your 30 minutes you would normally be commuting to work out at home. Try a combination of cardio and strengthening exercises including weights and battle rope training. You will start to feel stronger physically and mentally which will help you stay happy, healthy and motivated while working from home. Our latest article Home Workouts – the opportunity within will give you a head start.
The final thought
Now your work is home with you all day, you will need to focus extra hard to keep a good work life-balance.
Acknowledge the impact and give yourself some time to adjust to the new normal. Remember, by concentrating on sticking with a routine; eating healthily and exercising regularly, you will be on the right track to work effectively from home.
Be mindful of changes in your mood or behaviour and if you are feeling overwhelmed, have a chat with your colleagues to see what other positive changes you can make to your daily routine to create a positive working from home life-balance!
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