Have you ever fantasized about working from home? I definitely did, long before the pandemic. And now, thanks to the pandemic, most of us are working from home. I think many are finding that it’s not what they expected.
I remember thinking how much easier life could be if I worked from home! No more wasting time in the car, commuting! Getting to dress casually every day! Working whatever hours I wanted! Such freedom! Have you ever wanted to work from home?
When I became a new entrepreneur a few years ago before the pandemic, I began working from home as my own boss. It was a new, exciting experience, and it took me a while to adjust. There were days I realized I’d done nothing but sit in front of a computer screen all day, coding for eight straight hours or more.
There were times I realized I hadn’t-
- spoken out loud all day until my husband came home from work.
- left the house in days.
- heard any news from the outside world in days.
- seen any of my friends in weeks.
- eaten all day.
None of this is good. None of this is how a human being was meant to live. I needed to find new ways to stay mentally healthy and feel like a human being again.
It took me a while, but I finally realized that the way I was working was not conducive to happiness, health, or a sense of mental or emotional well-being. My priorities had to change if I wanted to not only stay mentally healthy but enjoy working from home. So I changed a few things.
Work is important, sure, especially when you’re your own boss and you’re doing the work of several people. But I finally remembered that I’m important too and that I should be on the priority list along with everything else! Sleep is important. Eating is important. Socializing is important. Enjoying the life that I’m creating is important!
So here’s what I changed to start creating a work/life balance. Then when the pandemic hit, I made a few more. I’m happier, healthier, and I feel more rested and peaceful now because of these changes.
I Schedule Online Social Time
As long as the pandemic is still going on, I will make a few online coffee or lunch dates with friends, and family using free online conferencing tools like ZOOM. Every week I have a repeating scheduled online “happy hour” with friends or family, and I reach out by text to friends or family members that I don’t see very often.
These work for me because it’s the interaction and connection that are important. I find a pleasant space to hang out, nowhere near my workspace, so I can fully focus and enjoy these visits.
Whatever type of online socialization works for you, do it!
I Have a Schedule
There was a time when I preferred to code for hours without any breaks, but that was not helpful in the long run.
One time, I started at 10 PM and the next time I looked up from my screen it was 6 AM. I had no idea. When I was new to working from home, I didn’t want to have “a schedule”. I really felt that the beauty of working from a home office was that I could work “whenever” I wanted. And often I wanted to work very late at night.
It didn’t take long for this newfound “freedom” to negatively impact my sleep cycle. Having the freedom to work “whenever”, wasn’t working for me at all. I wasn’t tired at night when I should be sleeping, and I was tired all day when I was also working and taking care of other responsibilities.
So I decided to have more structure in my days and nights. In order to keep that feeling of freedom I now use a loosely defined schedule, an outline if you will, beginning between 7 and 8 AM and ending between 4 and 5 PM. But it works for me. I work only half a day on Friday and I don’t work most weekends.
Making myself stick with this structure has fixed my sleep cycle and given me back a sense of control over my life. It impacts how I plan my days. I can work more, or less, depending on what I need to get done.
I Take Breaks
Even with a daily work-outline, I still have a tendency to get immersed in my work, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else.
When I first started taking little breaks, I worried about how “behind” I was getting in my work. But I soon realized that after a break, I had clarity, my mind worked better and I was actually more productive after I took a couple of breaks. So I decided to keep taking breaks and make some of them a little bit longer.
I’m getting all of my work done and I don’t feel like I’m falling behind on other responsibilities while I’m working from home.
During a 30 minute break, I might do a little banking. On another break, I’ll make myself a nutritious snack or lunch. On a shorter break, I’ll play with Abby, my dog.
See what I mean? I don’t have a set break schedule but I’m aware that I need to take them and I honor that. I take them in the morning and in the afternoon, at various times and for various lengths, depending on my needs. I no longer drive myself like a workhorse. I’m kinder and more considerate to myself, and it’s reflected in my work.
I Get Out of the House
I think one of the best ways to help our mental health is to get outside.
As long as you social distance, some ways you can get yourself out of the house are:
If you have a dog, take her for a walk or go to the park for 30 minutes.
Exercise in your home outdoor space.
Take a walk around your neighborhood.
Sit in your yard, or on your porch, or balcony.
Check the mailbox
Get your muscles working and your blood pumping. Your body will appreciate movement, you’ll get to look at something besides your computer screen. And that brings me to the next thing:
I Made a Change in Scenery
I started working from a different area after each break. So on some days, if I’ve had three breaks, I’ve worked in three different areas, including outside. This one really helps me.
My advice to you: change up your workspace now and then. Work in different areas of your house or sit in a different chair or in a different room, so your view changes. Work outside for 30 minutes if you can, sometimes in your front yard, sometimes in the back.
I hope you’ll try a couple of these yourself and see if it makes a positive difference in your workday. 🙂
Other articles you might like:
- How your personal brand makes the difference
- Using images: Tips to improve your SEO rankings
- 10 Things to Do After Creating Your Website