According to Psychology Today, people are creatures of habit: “Habits help us through our day. When we are doing something habitual, we are not engaged in the task in the same way as when we are doing something that is not habitual”, the publication writes.
We have our routines to get ready for work and our commute to and from work. They are habit to us, part of our daily lives.
Now, suddenly, we have to juggle tasks like parenting, homeschooling, cooking and cleaning while trying to do our jobs efficiently too as we work from home to help flatten the curve. These things are non-habitual, and we need to form new habits.
Each person is different and reacts differently to forming new habits and coping, so we have put together some tips on how to work towards a smart work/break balance at home.
This will go a long way toward helping you remain sane as you adapt to this new reality.
Stick to your routine as best as you can
When you start working from home, the temptation may be there to sleep in or stay in your pyjamas the entire day. We recommend that you try to stick to your ‘normal’ routine – as best as possible – get up, get dressed, have your breakfast and start working when you usually would.
TIP: You’re saving time on commuting, spend that time to get an early start, or doing some exercise, reading or getting some family time.
Set up a dedicated workspace
While working from bed or the couch may seem like a good option, your back, neck and shoulders will hate you for it. Look at setting up a dedicated working space at a table – whether it is in the dining room, the kitchen counter or similar. If you do not have any of these, look at finding the most comfortable seating to keep your posture in check and avoid back pain.
Having a dedicated workspace can also help you to assign that space to work only, and then be able to leave work at the table or desk when you’re done for the day. It creates a much-needed mental break from work.
Set your office hours
Look at your regular office hours, and try to stick to them. Also, communicate these hours to your colleagues, so they know when they can reach you. While its tempting to keep working, our minds also need a break to prevent burnout.
Have nutritious foods ready
Do you pack food every day for work? Whether it is breakfast and lunch, or lunch only, continue doing that and take a short break away from your desk while you eat. Also, keep some healthy snacks in the house for when you need them.
Find out what works for you to get work done
People have different ways of approaching deliverables and deadlines. Here are some suggestions to get you started, and keep your work/break cadence in a good place:
Make to-do lists daily
Make a list each day of what you need to do and tick off these items as you complete them. You will have a sense of completion and will be able to show yourself what you achieved for the day.
Manage work and break habits efficiently
Do you often stand up and take breaks from your desk at the office? Look at the Pomodoro technique and how it could help you manage break times to meet your deadlines.
Track your time to see what you did for the day
You could also use tools like Toggl to track how much time you spend on specific tasks to see where you spend your time.
These are not the only solutions out there, and you can use tools at your disposal to help you track your daily accomplishments.
Spend some time with your family or friends
We know the proverb, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” and this means that, as people, we do need a break from work to stay fresh and recharge.
You cannot go out to see or meet up with friends and family physically at the moment. However, you can set up Google Hangouts video calls, Zoom calls, WhatsApp Video calls or even FaceTime calls.
Take some time out of your day to check in with them to see if they are okay. Let the kids chat to their grandparents or friends via video call, or set up a virtual braai!
It is also the ideal time to bring back movie nights, and spend some quality time together as a family without chasing to the next kids’ party, brunch or shopping trip.
Stay Sane, Stay Safe
While some of us may feel the cabin fever setting in, we should look at the bigger picture – we are helping to keep ourselves and others safe. Our new ‘normal’ is shifting, and with it, we can form new habits to keep going forward.
How have you adjusted to work from home, and juggle your other activities? Tell us what you are doing to stay sane during this time.