Working remotely can be isolating and overwhelming. From setting daily goals to taking a lunch break, here’s how to make WFH, work for you
Nobody could have imagined how 2020 would turn out, and while many of us are slowly easing back into normal life, others are still navigating the new normal. Despite the reopening of offices, remote work has become a reality across the world, with many companies seeing a rise in productivity due to the freedom and flexibility that WFH can bring.
But what are the downsides to logging on from home? “Under normal circumstances, isolation is not a natural state of human existence, since we are wired to be socially connected with others and foster a sense of belonging,” says Dr Vedrana Mladina, clinical psychologist and senior wellness counsellor at NYU Abu Dhabi. A prolonged period away from the office can therefore make us withdrawn, overwhelmed and anxious. And not being able to separate work and home can lead to longer hours, burnout and stress. With the novelty of working-from-home fading, now is the perfect time to reset and readjust — here’s how to create a happy and healthy space to work in.
Set daily goals: Set an intention for each day to stay motivated and on track. Achieving daily goals gives a sense of control and purpose, and helps to focus your mind.
Create a routine: Structure makes us feel safer, and routines allow us to plan ahead. Create a fixed schedule similar to the one you had previously. If you worked in your office 9-5 before you began working from home, work for these hours only, and make sure you take a lunch break. Try as much as possible to keep your existing personal daily routines, or make new routines that help you create structure.
Practice self-care: Maintaining personal hygiene, getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy food, drinking lots of water, practicing breathing, relaxation, gratitude and mindfulness techniques that help to reduce anxiety, stress and worry, and getting dressed every day are essential. When you’re off-duty, take time to do things you enjoy, and always be nice to yourself.
Focus on what you can control: Uncertainty breeds anxiety and insecurity, and staying in control helps us maintain our sanity. You cannot control numerous situations related to the pandemic and the consequences that have followed it, but you can control other things.
Think about what is going on right now, and don’t let you mind wander into the future. You can control what you eat, how much exercise you do, what you wear, what music you listen to, who you choose to speak to, and what your topic of conversation will be. This gives a sense of order and stability, and stops us fixating upon things we have no control over.
Exercise everyday: Try to do something that makes you break a sweat daily – regular exercise is essential to maintaining both our physical and mental health, and will help us come out of this time looking better than when we went into it. Working from home should make it easier to schedule in a daily workout, even if you simply replace your morning commute with a thirty minute workout or at-home yoga session.
Repurpose your space: Creating a space for each activity helps you focus on the task in hand. Create a desk area where you can work (free from distractions), clear a large enough space that you can exercise in and try not to do anything other than sleep in your bedroom.
Stay connected: You might be isolated from colleagues, but it is still important to stay connected. Keep up the Zoom meetings, make daily phone calls and if you’re able to, arrange to spend a morning working in a coffee shop or communal workspace where you can maintain social distancing, but not feel entirely alone.
Limit your news consumption: It’s easy to get distracted by headlines and fixate on the outside world when working from home. Find a healthy balance in relation to how much media you view. Only allow yourself to update on the world’s news once or twice a day, and only read news from credible sources.
Tidy up: Living and working in a messy environment adds to the feeling of unnecessary stress and general chaos. Make your bed when you get up, clean up after yourself, tidy your desk at the end of your working day, and use free time at the weekends to declutter for an hour. An ordered home keeps an ordered mind.