1) Set A Schedule
We are creatures who (most of the time) thrive on routine. We aren't all used to being regimented when we aren't sheltered from the distractions of the laundry, the dishes, and the kids' school work. These times usually only occur on weekends and vacations...so NO WONDER shifting to working at home can feel a bit like working while on vacation. How do we stay motivated?!
Setting a schedule will help you keep a sense of normalcy as well as generate a flow. It will also organize your day and set some start and stop limits to your work to keep you grinding. Block out your personal and work tasks on your Google and Outlook calendars, or write them in your planner. Color code so your brain can see the points in the day where it can shift the focus to other tasks. And don't let it be just you who uses this method. Get the kids on a schedule, too, where certain times of the day the household operates like an office. Place the kids' tasks on a calendar they can see somewhere else in the house. Better yet, get their help organizing it once a week and award points (and maybe a reward) for those that stick to their schedule the most.
Everyone is on the same team here!
2) Get Up & Move
Feeling stagnant? While it may seem like wasted time in the middle of an important deadline, movement helps the brain and body generate fresh energy, which means, you return back to your work with new ideas and vigor. It also means better productivity.
It's also good to give your eyes a break from looking at the computer screen. Screens are always flickering at a pace that's so fast you don't even notice it, but your eyes do! This flickering wears your little peepers out by having to constantly keep up with processing that information and formulate a clear visual. We also tend to blink less staring at a screen, which dries your eyes out. If your eyes are feeling a little burnt and dry...it's time to get up!!
The type to get lost in your work and forget to move? Set an alarm/reminder in your phone to go off at 90-minute increments. Get up, go refill your glass of water, go get the mail, take the dog out, do something non-screen related that gets the blood flowing for 5-10 min.
3) Work Near Daylight (or a Good View)
Science has proven that a connection to nature, otherwise known as biophilia, is essential for human well-being. As animals (that's right!!! You're an ANIMAL...don't forget it) we naturally crave a connection to nature. Whether it be standing in the middle of a forest or having a plant on our desk, there is no method too small or too large.
Connecting with nature enhances our emotional and neurological health, which means, the more you get it, the better you FEEL and the better you THINK.
Sit near a window when you work (even better if you've got a good view). Take breaks and get outside for a little while. Put a plant on your desk. Plan hikes or bike rides on the weekends where you can keep your distance from people, but soak up the world around us. Your family and your work will thank you!
4) Keep Water On Your Desk
Feeling tired? You might be dehydrated! Hydration is one of the biggest nutritional methods that affect brain clarity. But when we are home, it can get really hard to remember to drink. Here's the thing: out of sight, out of mind. SO GET THAT WATER BOTTLE ON YOUR DESK, not below on a shelf, or on the floor, or in the kitchen...GET IT ON YOUR DESK. If you see it, you'll be reminded constantly to take a sip. Set a goal of ounces a day...aim for half your body weight and go from there. Make a game out of it! You can do it!
Need even more motivation? Get a half to one gallon water bottle on Amazon that has time markers to keep you on track all day. I have one, and it has saved my life!! Plus, it's pink and I love it...(yes, they come in other colors, guys!)
5) Prep Your Food Like Usual
I know it may feel like we have all the time in the world to make food just because we are home, but we all know, it never works out like that. So if you're working all day, and even more so if you're also trying to feed the kids during the day, PREP YOUR MEALS just like usual.
TRUST ME...the day will get away from you, that deadline will be requested and meeting scheduled during your lunch break, you WILL get lost doing laundry in between phone calls. You are human, and when life gets busy, we are hangry, the food is not prepped, and the kids are eating PB&J, YOU WILL DETOUR to lesser than choices.
You will be LESS likely to make alternative convenient food choices when you make healthy choices just as convenient. Use your weekend free-time wisely, and prepare to succeed or prepare to fail.
6) Set Aside Alone Time
Now more than ever, people are ALL UP in each other's space. If you're a parent or a room-mate, this gets old really fast. Yes, we are communal creatures, but being constantly surrounded means no privacy, no room to breathe. We need harmony between both to maintain a sense of self.
Carve out 1.5 hours each day that is JUST for you to be alone. Maybe EVERYONE in your household has a 1.5-hour slot that is their time to decompress! You can work out, read a book, take a walk, take a bath, play a game alone, whatever-the-heck-you-wanna-do! Just be you, without the pressures of what someone else may need or want or expect.
If you're taking us up on creating a task-based schedule each day, put your 1.5 hours on there! Solo time gets its own color code! This will do wonders for your sanity.
7) Turn Off the PC & Set Aside the Cell Phone After X-o'Clock
Last but certainly NOT least, is addressing the technology overload happening right now. Working at home means you rely even MORE on your laptop, tv, and cell phones. Yes, we use technology at work, too, but the difference is that there is a divide between work and home space. When we come home for the day, we are less influenced to keep working. We can leave work at work. But when we start working from home, it can be INCREDIBLY hard to turn off. Your personal and workspace are now mixed. This is where we have to draw some invisible lines in the sand.
One of those lines should be a time of the day you can TURN OFF. Set the phone aside, turn off the computer, don't flip on the news just yet. Not only will this help your brain be able to transition into repair mode from the crazy day (so you're more productive tomorrow), but it helps you to manage colleague expectations of you from afar before it becomes a problem (hello, mental health!), and it also helps YOU to stay more focused in your work window because there is a finite end in sight (yes, productivity!).
We know these times are new for many out there! It can feel even more complicated when you're caught dead in the middle of a health or weight-loss journey. You are being tested now more than ever to maintain your highest sense of self...so don't expect it to be perfect. Where we slip, simply learn from it. Take it with you for the future. But lay down and give up? That we will not do!