As ‘work from home’ drags on into winter, work and health habits can drag as well; here are a few simple shifts for stepping back into your power
Millions of people have found themselves working from home unexpectedly this year, and while at the start of the pandemic everyone was trying to follow best practices for working remotely, as the days get shorter and darker it’s easy to slip into bad habits. Here’s a practical guide for maintaining a positive body and mindset while you’re working from home this winter.
The longer you’re working from home, the more likely it is that the boundaries between work life and home life start to blur. But it’s important to get back into a good routine and avoid working into the evenings and weekends — it’s key for your mental health and working longer hours is unlikely to make you more productive.
Set yourself working hours, with the same start time and finish time each day, and try to stick to them as much as possible.
If you find yourself finishing later and later, then set a cut-off point where you just have to close down your laptop and switch off.
If you find it hard to switch on and get focused in the mornings then try taking a short walk or adopting another morning routine before you start. It establishes a clear distinction between getting up and starting work that can help you to get in the right mindset.
Showering and dressing properly before work also shifts your energy into ‘work mode’.
And to help you stay on task throughout the day, try to take regular breaks away from the screen. It could be worth trying different time management techniques to help you make the most of your working hours and stop yourself from running out of time. For example, by using the Pomodoro Technique you can work in short, focused bursts of 25 minutes without any distractions.
You can use a simple online time tracker such as Tomato Timer to ensure you stick to the time limit. When you’re up against a time limit you’ll be more motivated to get as much as possible done.
It’s important to find a routine that works and that you can stick to when you’re working remotely so that you stay focused during working hours and can switch off outside of them.
Look After Yourself
Another important part of maintaining a positive body and mindset for a winter of working from home is prioritizing self-care. During the summer months, it’s a lot easier to get outside in the daylight, go for a run or walk, and your motivation to cook healthy meals and eat well is generally higher.
If your diet and exercise have started to slide, then you need to come up with a new plan for getting back on track.
Start planning out your meals each week so that you can incorporate fruit, vegetables, protein, and everything your body needs to stay healthy. Cook bigger meals at the weekend so you have leftovers in the week and don’t get tempted to order in when you’re tired.
And if you feel like you’re struggling to eat the right things, you could consider taking some extra vitamins. For example, liposomal vitamin C from Seeking Health can boost your immune system to stay healthy through the winter. Vitamin D is another important basic immunity enhancer; in the summer we acquire this from the sun, but in the darker winter months, supplements can help.
Exercise is also going to make a big difference in your mindset during the winter. It’s tempting to stay inside when the weather’s bad, but make an effort to wrap up and get out at least once a day.
If you struggle with motivation to exercise try following a fitness plan or use an app to track your progress and set challenges for yourself. For example, the Nike Training Club provides access to a huge range of fitness classes, provides wellness advice, and it helps monitor your fitness levels to encourage you to keep exercising.
Optimize Your Workspace
If you’ve started to get into the habit of working from your sofa or your workspace has become cluttered and messy then you need to focus on creating a productive working environment.
Try switching up your workspace location and set yourself up somewhere else in your home — it could help you to feel more inspired and motivated. Just make sure it’s a specific space that you designate for work, even if it’s just the corner of your kitchen table, and it’s away from distractions.
Get everything you might need during the working day within reach such as a laptop, keyboard, notepad, pens so that you don’t procrastinate adjusting your desk or hunting for something to write with. And get into the habit of tidying and cleaning your desk space regularly — don’t let piles of paperwork creep up, empty your bin, and wipe down the desk.
A clean, organized space is going to make you feel more motivated and ready to work.
If you’re really struggling to stay focused while working from home then you could consider hotdesking in a co-working environment, or set up in a coffee shop every now and then (if possible). A change of scenery and the bustle of being around other people can help you to concentrate and reduce the feeling of isolation that sometimes comes with remote working.
Feeling isolated and disconnected can easily happen when you’re working from home, especially if you don’t live with anyone else. Social interactions with colleagues can be a lot harder to maintain when everyone is working remotely, and if you can’t meet up with them in person then you need to look at other ways to stay connected with your team.
Suggest a drop-in video meeting once a week for anyone to join and catch up, schedule in an extra five minutes at the start of meetings to chat, or ask a couple of colleagues if they would like to have a virtual Friday evening drink.
It’s also important to make plans outside of work for the evenings and weekends. You need something to look forward to and to motivate you to finish your work and switch off. If you can’t meet up with people face to face, then arrange a regular video or phone call with your friends and family. Talk to them and tell them that you’re feeling a bit lonely, and ask for help — you’ll probably find others are feeling the same way. Keeping yourself busy and connected will be an important part of maintaining a positive mindset through the winter.
Working from home during the winter can be more of a struggle, but by making an effort to maintain a clear boundary between work and home time, taking time to rest, reaching out to others, and looking after yourself you should be able to improve your body and mindset.
You may also enjoy reading 7 Productivity Tips that Can Change Your Life, at Work and at Home by James Dorian