Before lockdown, the idea of working from home appeared to be ideal. The thought of working from your bed and not having to commute is enough to make anyone want to leave the office world behind. However, after numerous weeks of working from home, the boundaries of work and home have been blurred. Going into work required routine and though working from home theoretically is easier, our brains are finding it difficult to switch off from work.
Whilst we were working at an office, our homes were a place where we would unwind from the stresses of work. Now that these worlds have combined, we’re dealing with the pressures of work in the comfort of our own home. Therapist and leadership coach Bianca Riemer tells Restless “Home is where you relax and allow yourself to be lazy. Now that we’re supposed to work from home there’s this constant inner voice saying you should be working. What I see now is that a lot of people are working so many more hours, because they’re feeling guilty, that they’re not working”
Creating a work/home balance is not only important for our productivity but our mental health too. If you’re struggling to work from home, here are seven ways that can help you create boundaries whilst at home.
Have a consistent sleep routine
Having a good sleep routine can massively affect our productivity and mental and physical health. “Improving your sleep routine is crucial and you need to have the same routine every day,” Bianca says.
If you’re finding it difficult to get a good night’s sleep Bianca suggests getting a SAD lamp. A SAD lamp encourages your brain to produce melatonin which is a hormone that makes you sleepy. “The SAD lamp helps people tremendously as that light exposure is really important.”
She advises trying to avoid exercising at night. “If you can avoid exercising or strenuous exercise in the evening. Normal kinds of movement, like yoga, or going for a walk and Tai Chi are totally fine. Avoid strenuous exercise like high-intensity training for no longer than half an hour, if you train more than half an hour in the evenings then you probably won’t be able to sleep.”
Create A Morning Routine
As we no longer have a commute to work, it’s hard to get into work mode as we’re missing a morning routine. By creating a morning routine, we’re telling our brain and our bodies that it’s time to get ready for work.
“Pretend you’re going to work, even if your desk is next to your bed, don’t just jump up from your bed and start working. Put some structure into your day whereby you get up, have breakfast, leave your bedroom, and get changed. And then during the day, treat your bedroom as you would treat your office. So pretend that you are commuting to work and pretend that you’re going to work by leaving the bedroom. And then when you enter it again, it’s your office if you use your bedroom for working” Bianca says.
Make time To Socialise
“Human contact is really important. So ideally you want to keep the dialogue going between you and your fellow colleagues. Or if you’re a freelancer, maybe you can have a daily 15-minute meeting where you check in with other people to see how they’re feeling. Create a group of people where you feel comfortable talking to them about how you’re feeling and can help each other with what you’re struggling with.” Bianca adds.
Have separate areas to work and play
Finding a dedicated space to work can be hard especially if you live with family or housemates but it’s important. If you have a space which is solely used for working, you’ll find that you’ll treat that space like it’s an office. Having separate areas will help you mentally move away from work mode to home rode. If I’m working in my bedroom, I’ll leave my laptop upstairs and go to the living room to relax. Your “play” space can also be used for taking breaks/or eating lunch.
Make plans in the evening
I know for myself, it’s hard for me to mentally switch off from work if I don’t have plans in the evening. Planning something to do, gives me something to look forward to and it allows my mind to focus on something else. Try and think of after-work activities that take you away from your computer. This could be reading, baking or going to dinner with a friend.
Set time for breaks and lunch
Taking breaks may feel unnecessary as working from home feels easier but it’s important to break away from work for a few minutes. Make sure to schedule in time for breaks during your day. You could do this by making yourself a cup of tea or going outside to have some fresh air.
Remember to always block out time to eat lunch and schedule your work around it. Try to make your lunchtime consistent and if you live with people try and with your other people.
Take your days off seriously
Taking time off when we’ve been stuck indoors can feel odd but it’s important to make sure we re-centre ourselves and relax for a few days.
While on your time off, put your “Out Of Office” on your emails and avoid checking your emails as much as possible.