How to care for your wellbeing whilst working from home.
We are still here in lockdown and at the time of writing this blog we are still waiting to hear when this will be lifted.
Now, we all realise that this is sensible, however, it is also incredibly frustrating - not being able to do or go where we want to, see those we care about and adapt to a 'new normal' overnight brings a lot of pressures.
I've been supporting businesses through this time with working from home wellbeing rather than workplace wellbeing so I wanted to share my 5 top areas for you to focus on whilst you work from home.
1. Develop and Stick to a Routine
This may be the perfect opportunity for you to discover when you work at your best - are you an early morning lark or an evening night owl? Once you've identified your 'optimum' working time ask yourself and your team how that fits with the business' needs.
Next take into account what you HAVE to do each day - perhaps you have children or you have essential tasks to do on certain days of the week.
Once you have this structure in place it is time to create your daily routine from when you wake up to when your head hits the pillow. Now this may sound excessive, however, we are creating a new way of living and to keep our anxieties at bay having a routine will help us keep focused.
For many of my clients they have found that they have so much more time to do what they want to now as they are no longer commuting and are being more efficient with their work. Consider what you can do each day that helps you get up and get going with your day and then how you can wind down from your work day - creating positive and self-care habits over time will increase your overall wellbeing.
Once you have identified the things you have to achieve each day work out how much time you need to complete each one and finally write it all down clearly and put your shiny timetable somewhere you will see it. Regularly!
You now have a structure that works for you which includes everything that you need to do, the habits you want to work on each day and your daily goals
Struggling to get started? Organise a video call with a colleague or your manager at the start of your working day so you are forced to be ready, look presentable and be coherent!
2. Create Your Ideal Working Environment
Many of people will find that they are working in shared spaces around their homes, fighting over the 'good' chair or the quiet spot or the bigger table. Therefore, this one may take some compromise, however, a few key factors to consider are:
- Are you physically comfortable?
- Is your set up serving you well?
- Do you have the right equipment and enough of it?
- How's the light where you are working?
- Are you too warm or too cold?
Many employers are allowing their staff to borrow monitors, laptop stands, etc so that people are physically well whilst working - take advantage of this.
I also have a plea - please don't work from your bedroom, or if you absolutely have to then not from your bed. Please. Your bed (and therefore your bedroom) is your place of rest where you can switch off. As soon as you start working there your mind will associate it with work making switching off very difficult. Pretty please.
Struggling to switch off from work? Pack everything away at the end of your working day or at lease cover it up so your notes and equipment are out of sight. Go on a mini-commute - a simple 10 minute stroll will tell your brain that your working day is over especially if you change into comfy clothes, listen to a different playlist not associated with work or call a non-work friend.
3. Communicate Effectively
It goes without saying that without in-person contact a lot of people will be really struggling so work out who needs what and how much communication from you - especially if you are a manager.
A few options include having a morning video call with your team to discuss what needs to be done and what support is needed where and then a quick end of day call to highlight wins and action any issues.
Many clients have found that they are spending a huge amount of time communicating simple matters so have a think about what works best for you and those you work with. Setting expectations around when you can take calls and have virtual meetings as well as creating boundaries regarding notifications will lead to an easier and less stressful working from home environment.
- Turn off notifications when you have finished work to help you to switch off.
- Be open and honest about how you are coping especially if you are struggling so the right help and support can be put in place.
- If you are a leader then be open and honest about the state of the business - there is nothing more potent than silence to start the gossip tree growing.
- Choose a different person to check in with every day just to have a chat and see how they are.
- Create virtual socials with colleagues to keep spirits high and promote team bonding. After work drinks via Houseparty, Cake Friday where the best treat wins, walk & talk with a colleague so you are both getting out and about whilst having a chat.
4. Maintain Your Motivation
With so many distractions around it can be really hard to stay focused, motivated and productive. That's especially true when we have to contend with other members of the household demanding our time and attention.
A few techniques which may help your motivation levels remain high include:
- 1 - 3 - 5 rule: choose one major task to do each day, then 3 medium tasks and finally 5 small ones.
- Reward yourself; for each beast of a task, at the end of your working day or working week. Choose something that you really want so the stakes are high - my go-to is a G&T on a Friday but ONLY if I've completed my weekly goals (well, almost all of them...)
- Try the Pomodoro Technique of setting a timer for 25 minutes and only focusing on that specific task for that amount of time. Once the timer goes off then take a 5-minute break which is completely away from your work. Then set your timer again and repeat. Do this 4 times and then take a longer break for about 15 minutes. Come back to your work to assess how much you have achieved, give yourself a cheer and crack on again.
Get an ally on board to keep you accountable - a friend, colleague or a coach so you can feel awesome when reporting back at how much you have achieved. You can champion and cheer each other on as well as have a moment to look at what has not worked to find a solution.
5. Build Your Resilience to Combat Stress
Much, much easier said than done this one takes time and dedication but can start with simple mindset changes to increase your optimism and resilience.
Review the language you are using and alter this to serve you better, for example, I no longer use the term 'social distancing' instead I say 'physical distancing' as I am social but at a distance. Self-isolation becomes self-preservation, lockdown has become me-time.
Look at all areas of your life to assess how you are sleeping, eating, hydrating, exercising, getting your daily dose of nature and daylight. We have the gift of time now so consider cooking from scratch, taking a walk or run every day outside and instil a bedtime routine which enables you to have a deep, restful sleep.
Take a check of your news intake - are you checking this first thing in the morning or last think at night or perhaps you have the news channel on all day. Consider not only limiting the amount of news you are consuming but also where it is coming from. Are you reading inflamed rumours or science and fact-based updates?
Finally, think USB - unplug from your devices, Switch Off from your work or from that stress inducing situation and Breathe. A few minutes of deep breathing in a quiet place can do wonders for your perspective.
Ask yourself "Is this thought helping or hindering me?", "How is my response helping the situation right now?", "What is a more helpful way forward?"
Happy and healthy working everyone - keep safe x