2020 has been an unusual year and many of us have been forced to work from home. I love the fact that I could spend more time at home, save commute time every day, but I also equally miss the face to face human interactions.
Gradually, I also feel how working from home can be challenging if not careful; work/life balance can get blurred, also physical and mental wellbeing can slowly deteriorate. Here, I'm sharing 5 tips that really helped me to live a productive and fulfilling working day at home.
1. Don’t check your emails as soon as you wake up
Working from home can lead to a blur in working hours. Since your work location is now your home, it can be very easy to start checking work emails as soon as you wake up. By doing this you are immediately stressing yourself, even if the stress is small it compounds over time. Your brain goes into work mode and you start thinking or responding to emails before you have got out of bed.
Set boundaries with your working hours, and only check emails during those times. Just like your body needs time to relax after a hard workout, your mind needs time to quiet down and let go of thoughts.
2. Counter unhealthy posture
Sitting for prolonged periods creates very unnatural posture. Your hips and back tighten because they are not fully utilised, your neck and shoulders become stiff because of the hunching. When we develop physical issues, we not only suffer from body pain but it can also affect our mental wellbeing. Fortunately we can counter unhealthy sitting posture in many ways:
Dead hang helps to decompress the spine. This really helps any neck, shoulder or back pain. Most of the time we are compressing our spine whether that’s sitting for long periods of time, looking at our phones, or walking up and down stairs. How often do you decompress your spine? You can use a pull up bar attached to a doorway to dead hang. (this is one of our team’s favourite activities to do when taking a break from work). (Amazon UK / Amazon US)
Use a back support brace when working at the desk. This simple yet effective strap, pulls back your shoulders using your own body mechanics to correct your posture. Surprisingly highly effective and can be worn anytime. (Amazon UK / Amazon US)
3. Turn off or reduce notifications
This can be a hard one, as we have become so conditioned to eagerly await notifications. It doesn’t matter what type of notification it is, whether it's an email notification or WhatsApp, our mind is craving for that dopamine hit.
Sometimes you might find yourself staring at the screen where the notifications pop up, hoping something will show. If that happens, it's time to turn off notifications. By turning them off we can release the pointless mental activity of wanting a notification to pop up, allowing for less distraction and more focus on work. (Some apps have a ‘do not disturb’ functionality which can also be used).
Sometimes it may not be possible to turn off notifications for a specific app for business reasons. That’s fine, just turn off all the non-business critical notifications. Emails rarely need to be read and responded to in real time, so there is no need for an email notification every time you receive one. Instead allocate certain times to review email which could be twice a day or hourly after a short break (depending on the business need). For further tips I highly recommend checking out Tim Ferriss’ approach to email management here.
4. Take a Mindful coffee/tea/water break
Taking regular short breaks during your work day is important to give yourself mental breaks. This helps to avoid fatigue and increase productivity. At Wellvivid, we take 5-10 minutes break every hour to relax and refresh. There are many ways to fill that 5-10 minute break. One good example is to stretch your body out, as if you work on a computer at a desk, your posture gets wrecked from hunching to look at your screen.
Having a coffee/tea/water break is great for refuelling the body. You can go one step further and practice a short mindfulness meditation, which uses your cup of coffee (or other beverage) as a medium to refresh and relax your mind. We have recorded our own version which you can try at your next coffee break. It is 4 mins long and you can listen to it here.
5. Be kind to yourself
It’s been a good few months since the pandemic started, and we have spent more time working from home alone than in the office with our colleagues. As government and work policy changes month on month, we need to adapt and this can be unsettling and stressful. Even though none of this is under our control, there may be times where we feel added pressure or feel we are not doing enough.
Allocate some ‘me’ time where you give yourself permission to unwind. Be grateful for what you have, and pat yourself on the back for getting through these tough times. We have a natural bias to be tough on ourselves. Let go of that toughness and be kind and loving to yourself. That may be indulging or practising a loving kindness meditation.
We don’t know when life will go back to normal, we have to adapt and embrace the ‘new normal’. Physical and mental problems can slowly manifest themselves over time, and we may not be aware of their existence until they become an issue. These 5 tips have gone a long way in safeguarding my wellbeing. Let us know what work from home tips you have and please share them with us in the comments below.
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Love and light x