The number of people working from home increased significantly during 2020—according to a Pew Research study, 71% of adults whose job could be done from home reported that they were working from home all or most of the time in October of 2020. Many of us are continuing to work from home even as COVID restrictions lift. Workers and businesses alike have realized the many benefits of remote work, and employers are now either allowing their staff to continue working remotely or are embracing hybrid schedules.
Though working from home has its perks, there is at least one major downside: as more companies allow employees to work remotely, the boundaries between work and home life become increasingly blurred. Here are our tips for not taking your work home with you, even when you work from home.
Stick to a Pre-Work Morning Routine
When working from home, it can be easy to fall into the unhealthy habit of rolling out of bed right before work hours begin. Going from sleep mode right into work mode is by no means ideal. It can make a huge difference to create and stick to a morning routine that allows time for your brain to wake up and your body to gain energy. Try waking up at least an hour earlier than you have to begin work. You can use this time to shower, put on real clothes (I know it’s tempting, but no pajamas!), and then do whatever it is that energizes you. Maybe you want to take a morning walk or jog. Maybe you want to read, listen to a podcast, or meditate. Maybe you’ll use this time to have a few extra moments with your family. Whatever your routine looks like, be sure to stick to it, and don’t let work seep into this time. It’s just for you.
Prioritize Creating a Comfortable Office Space
It can be a challenge to not let working from home interfere with your home being your safe space. This is especially true if you work in the same areas of your home where you relax or spend recreational time. If it’s possible, set up your workstation in a place 100% dedicated to work, preferably where you can shut the door and close out work at the end of the day. If you live in a small space, you may not be able to dedicate a whole room as your office, but you could try setting up a little work corner separated by a room divider. If you will be working from home often, it’s worth investing in a high-quality desk and a comfortable office chair. You can also make your work space more pleasant by decorating and surrounding yourself with things that help you to stay motivated and focused.
Take Your Sick Days
When transitioning from working in office to working from home, one of my biggest challenges was feeling justified in taking a sick day or a PTO day. Because I was already home, even if I didn’t feel well, I would tell myself I could still work or at least check in periodically and help out as needed. It isn’t easy to break with this way of thinking, but it is essential to our well-being. If you are feeling ill, your body is telling you that it needs to rest. Listen to your body and honor its signals. Perhaps you are physically OK, but you’re having a rough day mentally. Tending to our mental health can be even harder for us, but it is so important. It’s OK to take a mental health day. It’s OK to admit that you are human and that sometimes you need a day to re-center yourself.
Eat Lunch Away from Your Desk, and Eat Healthily
It can be difficult for us to pull ourselves away from work, but sitting in front of a computer screen all day without taking a break leads to brain fog and burnout. Make a point of eating lunch away from your desk and taking your full lunch break so you can come back to work with a fresh mind. Check out our recommendations for 4 easy, yummy vegan lunch ideas that will nourish you and give you an energy boost to get through the rest of your workday. It is a good idea to pre-make a healthy lunch so you don’t waste your limited lunch time preparing food. Then you won’t have to rush to eat, and maybe you’ll have a little bit of time left over to do something that recharges you—maybe take a walk, do a quick workout, or do some restorative stretching.
If You are Stressed, Step Away
If you are having a particularly stressful day, take advantage of the fact that you are in your home and can step away to clear your head. One of the benefits of working from home is that we don’t have to worry about hiding our stress from others and presenting ourselves professionally when we are internally breaking down. You’re at home, and you’re likely alone, so allow yourself to freak out and get creative with ways to manage your stress. Go meditate in the middle of your living room or shake it out with a midday, solo dance party. Scream into a pillow. Cuddle your furry work-from-home buddy for a few minutes. Whatever personally calms you down, do it knowing that stepping away to deal with stress will help you come back to your desk with a clearer mind and leveler head.
Unplug When the Workday is Done
Not everyone’s workday looks the same, and some days may be longer than others. But try your best to stick to set hours and create boundaries between work and home. Fully shut down and unplug your computer when the day is done so there is no temptation to log back in. You may have a job that requires you to stay connected and available, but be sure to set boundaries and let your team know if there are times when you cannot be reached. If you are taking vacation time, log off completely—or, if you must, let your team know that you will have limited availability. And really keep it limited. This will allow you to fully immerse yourself in your time off and use it as an opportunity to recharge. You will come back to your work feeling reinvigorated and ready to dive back in.
It can easily start to feel like work is consuming your life if you don’t set boundaries and maintain a healthy work-life balance. By mastering work-life balance, we set ourselves up to be better, more productive workers and to be happier and more positive when we are off the clock. Remember to be kind to yourself, and it will pay off.
Also by Courtney: A Rebounder Was My Best Pandemic Purchase. 5 Reasons You Must Try It
Get more like this—Sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photo: Annie Spratt, Ria Quartz, Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash