6 Ways to Keep WFH from Driving You Insane
They’re calling your name.
No, not your kids, your partner, or your dog who you imagined having full-on conversations with about midway through the pandemic… but your dishes. You can see them, out of the corner of your eye from your “desk” at the kitchen counter. “How are there always dishes in the sink?” you wonder, as you quickly check Slack, look at the dishes, then check Slack again. Somehow, the dishes always win. You’ll do the report after the dishes. Yes. You have time. It’s still early in the day.
An hour passes and the report is still waiting for your attention. It’s okay, you can work late tonight. You’ll make up the time. You always do.
And just like that, it’s 9 PM.
Have you ever gone to bed and woke up the next day, feeling like you never left the office?
It’s an unfortunate reality of working from home.
While working from home definitely has its advantages (hello, working in your underwear, having more morning “me” time, and not having to smell your boss’s ripe coffee breath at 9 AM!), it has also made the daily juggling act of work/life balance a lot more difficult to land.
Here’s how to make this love/hate relationship with working from home not drive you absolutely insane (like that time Spark told you about his secret relationship with the Goldendoodle next door).
Have a time when you’re officially OOO.
- Yes, your boss knows you’re a person. A human who does things other than work. In fact, many times the experiences you have OOO are what give you that unique perspective that makes you such a valuable part of the team! So, make sure that you have a time each day where you power-down and transform into your OOO self. Your work will be better because of it!
Silence the machines.
- When you’re done with work, turn your phone and notifications on silent to make sure you’re giving your brain a break! Even a notification from a boss at 9 PM can send your brain into a spiral of to-dos and anxiety for the thing-that’s-so-important-it-couldn’t-wait-until-morning email. Unless it’s a five-alarm fire, you can rest easy. It can be put out in the morning.
No office? Create a work zone.
- Whether the “office” you planned on having when you bought the house is now your third child’s room or the studio apartment you live in barely fits a bed… we’ve all just had to make WFH work. Some of us don’t have the luxury of a real-deal office space. This is why creating zones is a helpful way to keep you sane.
- Maybe you have enough space for a makeshift desk in your living room? Or you have to cozy up to the two square feet of kitchen counter space you have to make room for your laptop? Wherever it is, make sure you have all the things you need for work. A ritual like lighting a candle or turning on some music to work to, can help “set the mood” for the workday.
Change up the scenery.
- Work better in a coffee shop for half the day? Maybe you enjoy doing some tasks on your couch and others at the counter? If a change of scenery works best for you depending on the task at hand, that’s great! Just make sure that whatever routine you have is consistent and helps you focus, instead of creating more distractions.
- Some people use the Pomodoro Technique: 25 minutes of work, followed by a five-minute break, with a 15-minute break at least once every two hours. Others set timers for 30 minutes, an hour, or even 15 minutes. Contrary to popular belief, breaks help you work more effectively. So, set a timer and work your magic… and enjoy that much needed break at the sound of the alarm!
Move your body and get some fresh air.
- Not only will the great outdoors give you some new scenery and a welcome break, but it will get some oxygen to your brain to help kick that midday slump to the curb! Walks are both meditative and energizing, calming your mind and giving it the break it deserves.
- Alternatively, the post-workday workout is a great way to create an official end to your workday and a smooth transition into the rest of your day. So next time you feel a serious case of the yawns coming on, go outside and stop worrying about being offline for 30 minutes. Your team will understand.
We’ve all had to adjust to the WFH lifestyle. While it isn’t always easy, you may just grow to love all the benefits. Just be sure to set boundaries and have a clear separation between your work life and your personal life, so when you set that OOO auto-reply, you’ll know you really can be “out of office.” You deserve it.
Allie Demopoulos is a Content Copywriter at Surprise.com. A writer and producer, she believes that humor is the greatest tool and that the best of anything–comedy, music, stories–are experienced in basements. When she’s not creating, you can find her in the electric streets of Manhattan, a place she feels lucky to call home.