We are living in a new, surreal, and fairly scary time right now. With the spread of Covid-19, many people have been asked to stay at home and not go to work, unless they are deemed ‘essential’. I am thankful that I have the flexibility and opportunity to work remotely. This gives me a great deal of peace knowing that I can continue to do my job from my home and stay out of the way so professionals can try to combat the spread of this new virus.
Now working from home has its perks. I can sleep about an hour longer, I don’t have to put gas in my car, and I can work from the comfort of my sweatpants and slippers. With that said, I cannot fully live a life of work from home leisure as my wife has demanded that I take regular showers and shave (sigh). I guess it is an acceptable price to pay. I also love the easy access to my coffee and the lack of temptation to spend money on other coffee. On the flip side, working from home has its difficulties. I get far less movement than I did in the office. I used to have to walk across the building for meetings or to go to the bathroom or cafeteria. And those office buildings are larger than you realize. I also have easy access to snacks. But what I think I struggle with the most, especially doing it 5 days per week, is the feeling of being trapped and going stir crazy. This can bring about many issues with focus and concentration.
As the week has progressed, I have been working to establish habits and routines that are helping me to overcome these drawbacks.
- Define time for movement
- Establish a consistent schedule framework, and stick to it
- When you are done, be done
- Track your intake
- Keep your space organized
I have turned my lunchtime hour into my workout time. My home office shares a room with the Peloton so this is a huge help. At the office, I would average 4,000-6,000 steps a day by the time I left work. This would allow me the ability to get to 10,000 finishing my day at home between walks, around the house tasks, or errands. I am now getting 3,000 at best when I finish work. Because of this difference, defining a time period me to work out is even more important. I have set my lunch hour to be when I exercise. Not only does it get my heart moving, but it helps clear my head for the afternoon tasks I still have left. Having the Peloton makes it even easier, though I still could go for a run, walk, or do a body weight exercise as well. I have found that taking care of ourselves seems to be even harder when working from home, so make it a priority.
Working from home has also made it hard to establish a flow. The time can either fly by or crawl by. Establishing a framework schedule can help with this. We obviously have meetings or tasks that take different chunks of time, so don’t schedule your days to the minute, but a broad framework can allow for a better day. I make sure to be logged in by 6:30/6:45. This allows me some early morning time to get through emails and have a coffee. I make sure that I take one morning breather to have some breakfast and to wander the house. I also define 45 minute to 1 hour at around 11:30 for lunch/working out. I finish my day at 3:30. Having the schedule framework keeps us in charge of our time and keeps work and email from taking over our time.
Now when my wife reads this she might think, “Ben, you finish your day at 3:30? You have had to check you email well past that time and even logged back in after putting our daughter down for sleep.” I do not claim to have perfected this and the spread of Covid-19 has caused my work-life to be very stressful this past week, but it is something to work towards. It also leads me to my third point.
When you are done, be done. I mean it. I am talking to myself more than anybody else. Who/what is at home with you? Your spouse, kids, pet, or your neglected hobbies or chores? They deserve your time too and work is only paying you for 8 hours a day. I have been bad at this for the past few days, but it has become ever more clear that I need to do this. At the office, you leave and get in a car. At home, you do not have that defined stopping point. Make one. Go for a walk, practice social distancing in your back yard with an adult beverage, or put another episode of friends on and marvel at how much more obnoxious Ross is in hindsight. Just close the laptop. It will all be there for you in the morning.
I have realized the importance tracking intake is at its highest when working from home. It is so damn easy to mindlessly eat your way through the day at home. Nobody is around to see. There are no coworkers that you have to hide destroying that whole bag of extra buttered popcorn from. Instead of my water, I’ll have a soda, or 7 cups of coffee, and almonds. Make that another handful of almonds. Oh, I forgot we have string cheese! Tracking helps us be conscious what we are eating so that you might give second thoughts to that container of Oreos sitting above the fridge.
Finally, if you are like me than clutter makes it harder to focus. Defining your space and keeping it clean can help with that focus. Keep your desk free of dishes, trash, and whatever else you stick on it when cleaning the living room. Please tell me I am not the only one who does this.
Give these a try. I hope they work. If you have any other thoughts to share, let me know. This list is not comprehensive and I would love the ideas and input of others.
Stay safe out there.