I am going to start off by saying, you are not alone. We have all been rocked and shook by this pandemic in more ways than one. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say “this is the new norm”, I would be rich. Literally. I think that is one thing that made me really uncomfortable, and caused me some anxiety. Hearing over and over again that THIS-the whole mask wearing, social distancing, no hugging, is now the new norm… honestly this makes me extremely uncomfortable, even typing it.
This week marks week number 26 (183 days, but who’s counting) that I have been working from home. My workplace, like the majority of other work places closed their doors and made it mandatory for all employees who are able to, to work from home in the middle of March. At first I found it pretty difficult and quite an adjustment. I never had the option to work from home before, and was told “pack your stuff, you will be working from home starting tomorrow”.
I would consider myself to be quite a social person, so the thought of working from home and not being around my coworkers/ friends really hit me. Who was I going to talk to all day? What if I have to ask my boss a question? How are meeting going to go VIA video? What about the bi weekly lunches with my coworkers? These were all thoughts that were rushing through my head.
I want to help you with some things that have helped stay me sane while working from home and to avoid ‘work from home burnout’.
- TAKE A DAY OFF
It is so important, to always put yourself and your mental health first. If you are feeling extremely overwhelmed and stressed out, take a day for yourself and book a day off. If you have vacation days or personal days available to use at work, use them. Especially during this time.
This day off does not have to necessarily have to be a productive day off, you are allowed to take a day off and do nothing. I repeat, do nothing! If you are like me and read that and cringed at the fact that I said to do nothing, its okay. You do not always need to feel the need to be productive and doing something. Take this time to catch up on any shows that you have fallen behind on, or maybe you have been meaning to organize your closet or even tidy up your house. Whatever it may be, remember that sleep is also important- it is one of the main things that fuels your body and gives you energy. So be sure to sleep in and even take a nap on your day off, you can never have enough sleep!
2. TAKE REGULAR BREAKS THROUGHOUT THE DAY
When working from home, people often forget to take a breaks throughout the day like they would normally do at the office. It doesn’t have to be a long break- it is probably better that it is short since you do still need to be productive while working. But a 5 or 10 minute break every so often to grab a snack or drink, or even to go for a short walk will do you wonders!
3. KEEP IN TOUCH WITH COLLEAGUES
Be sure that you are regularly communicating with your co-workers- and not just VIA email. Microsoft Teams video chat has been a life saver for me when it comes to chatting with my coworkers. It is so much easier to communicate to each other when you can see each other’s faces, but it is also important to make sure that you continue to chat with your coworkers and don’t lose the social aspect of work either.
4. SET UP A DESIGNATED WORK SPACE
You want to make sure that you have a specific spot in your home that is set up as an office. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have a completely separate room with a door, brand new desk and an office chair on wheels. But you do want to make sure that you set up an area that you can leave behind once you are done work for the day. Since we are no longer going into the office, we want to make sure that we make the disconnect between ‘work’ & ‘home’. Personally, I do not have a spare room that I could make into an office, so I have a small desk set up in the corner of my dining room where I have set up my monitors and have my own office space that I created. Essentially whatever you can make work will be great!
5. COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR BOSS/ SUPERVISOR
I can guarantee you that whatever emotions you are feeling, you are not alone. Someone else at your workplace is most likely feeling the same way as you are, which is why you need communicate with your manager or supervisor and tell them how you are feeling. If you are struggling with being productive, staying motivated or if your hours just are not working well for you- let them know. By communicating with your boss on a weekly or even daily basis, and keeping them in the loop will help you have someone to talk to but also in case you are unable to finish a project in time, they will be more sympathetic to the situation.
6. STAY IN TOUCH WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Remember to stay in touch with your friends and family as well throughout your work week. Even if you don’t want to pick up the phone during the day and make a phone call, you can always send a quick text to see how they are doing, or you can be like me- and send a funny meme here and there or a few new recipes that you tried out this week. If you are often very busy during the day, these examples may be easier- and I mean… who doesn’t like a good meme or a new recipe?
7. CREATE A DAILY ROUTINE
Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean that you should lose your daily routine. Be sure to start your day however you would as if you were going to work- this might be starting your day off by showering, then having breakfast and sipping on your favourite cup of coffee. Maybe you are even feeling adventurous and want to toss in a workout before you start your day of work. Whatever it may be, make sure you are not just waking up 5 minutes before your work day starts and rolling out of bed.
8. EXERCISE AND STAY ACTIVE
If you have a lunch break or flex hours at work, use this time block to stretch and get moving. You are most likely spending your day hunched over in front of your computer screen, and the best way to deal with this is to get some exercise and take a break. You can go for a walk around your neighbourhood, go for a quick hike on your lunch break or even go for a run. I usually use my lunch break and complete an online workout.
These are just some of the tips that have helped me stay sane since I have started working from home. It has not been easy, and has defiantly been an adjustment but I know that I am not alone, and you aren’t either 🙂