Updated: Apr 7, 2020
5 habits to help keep you focused, balanced, and productive during this time.
Typically, working from home is a welcomed break from traveling into the office. Instead, I, like many professionals, are navigating a new normal of working from indefinitely and practicing social distancing.
Whether you are new to working from home or an experienced remote employee, working from home during the wake of this pandemic comes with unique challenges.
While things continue to feel unusual, I’ve found that sticking to my regular routines - as best as I can - help me retain some sense of normalcy and keeps my anxiety under control.
Here are five habits to help keep you focused, balanced, and productive during this time.
Schedule Working Hours (including lunches and breaks)
When working from home, it is easy to lose track of time and work longer hours compared to working at the office. The occasional 10-hour workday may not have a significant impact; however, now we are working from home until further notice, we can’t sustain the long working hours without a negative effect on our sleep schedule, work ethic, or eating habits. To prevent overworking and burnout, it’s best to schedule your working hours.
For example, I schedule my working hours from 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM (my company’s business hours), and I include a 30-minute lunch and two 13-minute breaks in the morning and afternoon.
By establishing assigned working hours, you maintain a work-life balance while working from home, keeping you focused and productive.
Create a separate work space and home space
If you’re like me, then your mind has been wired to associate home with leisure and the office with work. This means merging your home and your workspace can make for an unhappy union. For this union to be successful, you’re going to have to dedicate a specific area of your home to your new workspace and reserve the rest for home life.
And, yes, this will require you to leave your warm and comfy bed. The separation between your personal and professional spaces will set physical boundaries and help keep you more focused and productive.
Get ready for work
The act of physically getting ready for remote work (brushing your teeth, getting dressed, doing your hair, etc.) has been proven to improve mindset and mentally prepare you for your work.
If you find yourself easily getting distracted or feeling sluggish, try getting ready for work as you would if you were commuting. Sticking to your morning routine may help improve your mindset and help you mentally prepare you for a productive day.
Brighten up your mood by opening your blinds
With the reduced interaction with the outside, invite the natural sunlight into your home by opening your curtains. Natural sunlight is known to encourage a sense of happiness, and opening your blinds will have a strong effect on your mood, your behavior, and your body’s natural rhythmic patterns.
Not only will opening your blinds create an inspiring environment, but it will also help cut down on energy costs throughout your home in the process.
Decompress: Do not break your pre/post-work routine
Working from home may not make your workdays less stressful. With the added stress of social distancing, committing to continue your pre/post-work winding down activities is super important. For me, these activities look like the following:
Working out. Check to see if your studio or gym is offering virtual workouts. One of my favorite NYC fitness studios is offering twenty-minute virtual workouts without weights (or utilizing random props like water jugs and brooms). Fair warning, though, these workouts are not for the faint of heart!
Going for a run outside. Social Distancing does not mean isolating yourself from the outside world. Go for a run through your neighborhood or local park. Just make sure to practice social distancing by staying six feet from other people and other runners.
Meditating. I first tried meditation at DC’s Studio Recharj. They’re offering one forty-minute virtual class every day at 6:00 PM. If you’re looking for a morning flow or more options throughout the day, check out HealHaus’ virtual meditation classes or the Calm App’s Daily Calm Live Stream.
During this time, it is critical that we try to maintain a positive perspective and balanced lifestyle.
What are some habits that are helping you stay focused, level-headed, and sane?