Work Life Balance, Post-COVID

April 18th, 2020

Many of us are suddenly have suddenly been thrown into a different work-life balance in the past few weeks, with social distancing and home isolation rules.  No longer are we commuting to our jobs and the only people we see are the ones in our homes.  This can prove to be a difficult situation to get work done, but it doesn’t have to be.

Here are some tips and information on how to actually be more productive working from home.

  • You save on time not having to commute!  Yes, those wasted minutes, half hours, or hours on trains/buses/cars are now yours again!  Make good use of the time that is back into your life.
  • Put on clothing that you would normally wear to work.  Your clothing can help set the mood.  Many studies have found that people will sit up straighter when wearing formal clothing such as suits.
  • Set defined wake times and sleep times.  Our bodies like routines.  Keeping a set schedule allows our mind to know what it should be doing.
  • Set up a morning “starting work” ritual and and evening “ending work ritual” to create a demarcation in time between your “home leisure” and “productive work” times.  A 5 minute meditation or yoga session would be a great way to separate the chapters of your life.  I like to go for a run at the end of the day.
  • Have sensory cues for the different aspects of your day.  For example, some people will wear cologne or perfume when they go to work. Continue this routine while at home and you will be subconsciously “cueing” your mind into getting into a work mode.
  • Try to work in an area of your home designated for work such as a study.  Set up your desk as closely to where you would normally work.
  • Take “virtual water cooler breaks”.  Part of work life is socializing with your co-workers.  Set up times when you video chat with co-workers.
  • Avoid unnecessary trips to the kitchen.  We often eat out of boredom or under stress.  Hunger is sometimes a manifestation of thirst.  Try drinking a warm cup of tea first and see if you are still hungry 20 minutes later.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum.  Would you normally have the TV news on while you are at work?  Right now, the news is quite grim and depressing and could certainly cause you to lose your focus on your tasks.
  • Have appropriate lighting in your work area. Natural light is best for most people, so open the shades or turn on some lights if it is cloudy day.
  • Use earplugs if your environment is noisy or if you have loud kids.
  • Some studies have found that having pets around can actually reduce stress and increase productivity. Keep Fido around while you’re working.
  • Assess your desk/table height.  If you start feeling back pain, you may need to adjust the heights a little.  You can also be creative and make your own standing desk with some plastic storage boxes.
  • Wear a clean pair of shoes in the house.  Being barefoot can create excess strain on the feet and your arches to flatten out.  Sneakers or supportive dress shoes would be ideal.
  • Put a calendar and clock in your desk area. Sometimes the days can seem like a blur.  Having a concrete sense of time can help to keep you motivated.
  • Reduce non-essential smartphone use.  It’s tempting to check social media or the news in between reading work emails.  Resist the temptation.  Perhaps you can put those apps into a separate folder away from your main screen during weekdays to reduce the temptation.