The announcement of another six weeks of shelter in place is much like the groundhog seeing his shadow in February, it’s a bit hard to swallow. As we check in with our clients and their employees, we are finding that some employees are settling into the remote working routine, while others were just getting by until Wisconsin’s initial shelter in place ended on April 24th.
The upside we’re hearing about working from home is no commute, sweatpants/pjs every day (from the waist down anyway), no interruptions, and that the refrigerator at home has all their favorites compared to the office stock!
On the flip side, we’re hearing it’s hard to stay focused/motivated, work blurs into their home life, it’s hard to collaborate over the web as you can’t read body language, communication is suffering, and it’s lonely. Most of those we serve, are struggling to work remotely, and are excited to return to the office, in whatever form that takes.
With this knowledge, we put together some work from home and self-care tips.
Work from home tips:
- Set up a designated work area. I know not everyone was prepared to work from home for a long period of time but setting up a workspace is very beneficial to help avoid unnecessary distractions.
- Try to stick to your set work hours. It’s easy to start early and work later when you’re at home but this is essential to keep from feeling like “you’re always at work”.
- Break your work/tasks out into days – make a list of what you’ll accomplish that day and then reward yourself when you cross that work off of your task list. Be realistic – plan for 4-5 hours’ worth of tasks. I always put one thing on my list that I’ve already completed so I can cross it off immediately – it gives me momentum!
- Designate time in your calendar to complete certain tasks. Sometimes it’s not super realistic but it helps me eliminate distractions. Block time for your work – sometimes the more time we have, the more time we grow in to. Reward yourself when you get the work done – bike ride, walk, call a friend. Be kind to yourself.
- Always take your lunch away from your desk. I like to make sure I’m active during this time since otherwise, I’m sitting all day long (no standing desk here). Try a quick work out, yoga, bike ride, walk, listen/play music or even yard work to take advantage of your more casual work setting.
- Clean off your desk daily – even if you have a designated office space that isn’t visible to anyone else. Starting with an organized workspace yields productivity.
- Stay organized. Avoid letting papers and clutter to pile up. Even adding a plant to your workspace brings a mental uplift.
- Getting dressed/ready every day. I know it might seem silly, but it puts me in a different mindset. It makes me feel like I’m not just home relaxing in my pjs. Getting ready for the day signals a shift in mindset.
- I enjoy having music on. It helps break up the silence. I change it up to fit the mood I want to have. Somedays it is classical piano, other days it’s the music I grew up with.
- Schedule a day off. I know that may seem like a waste of a good paid time off day. But taking a day off and being away from your work, during the week, can break up the monotony of today’s schedule. Plan something you enjoy – put in a garden, explore a new park, learn a new skill.
Also, it’s VERY important to take care of yourself during a stressful time (e.g. COVID-19, shelter in place), here’s some tips:
Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Try to stick to your normal schedule.
- Use a bedtime routine. Your subconscious replays the last thing you think of all night long. Try to read, meditate, or do yoga before bed.
- Breathe fresh air and get sunlight exposure EVERY day. Set a time on your calendar to get out for a walk/run/etc.
- Exercise… either inside or outside. Yoga and meditation can help a great deal. If you can, get away from the screen to exercise. That said, Peloton is offering a 90-day free trail and I am loving their yoga and meditation.
- Eat nutritious foods and stay hydrated. This is a great time to try new healthy recipes.
- Stay in touch with friends and family. There is a lot of technology available. This is especially important for extroverts! People are having Zoom dinners with their friends located several States away – come on, you know their home!
- Relax and do things that make you happy.
- Try to limit the news/social media that gets you down. I DVR the news but skip right to the weather. Look for shows that are light and humorous.
- Avoid people/sources that feed on negativity. I have blocked a lot of people on Facebook during this pandemic. I’m only interested in funny or positive posts!
- Call your HR person! Or use your Employee Assistance Program. We are all going to have moments of feeling low, myself included, reach out and talk to someone.
I’d like to think on the other side of this, all the things that we took for granted, present a new cherished moment. Going for coffee with a friend or not cooking 3 meals/day will feel like such a treat!
By: Angie Addison, SHRM-CP, PHR