Since a lot of people are working from home for a while and may continue to do so for the foreseeable future, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned after working from home for several years.
I greatly enjoyed my work from home time, but there were some trade-offs that I had to learn how to deal with. I had a very short commute, was very flexible in my work locations, and gained the benefit of becoming self-motivated.
However, I also had to accept the downsides: no in-person interaction with coworkers, the massive potential for at-home distractions, and the physical difficulties. (Yes, physical).
So here’s what I’ve learned over the years. Take it or leave it, the advice is worth what you paid for it and hopefully you find it beneficial.
- Keep a schedule. Our psyches need some sort of routine to ground things. It’s a lot easier to fall into anxiety and depression without structure in place. Whatever your normal work schedule looks like, keep your home working hours close to that if you can. It is easy to allow yourself to “drift” back into work because it’s *right there.* Establish a work-life boundary and enforce it.
- Move around during the day. Just sitting at a desk all day is really not healthy. Once every hour or so, get up and walk around for a couple of minutes. It keeps the blood flowing and prevents muscle cramps. Not to mention it changes your view a bit, which can also help you keep your sanity. It’s easy to stay in one spot when you’re working from home, so get moving!
- Exercise is a MUST. When you’re sitting down all day in the same position, it gets to be a drag on your body. I still have problems in my right shoulder blade from having my arm up on the mouse for hours and hours a day for years. Doing exercise alleviates some of that. There are plenty of at-home exercise videos on YouTube, Instagram, etc. that you can do right in your home. Heck, even use the moving around time to do a few sets of exercises here and there if nothing else. Keep yourself moving and get your muscles working, somehow, some way.
- Maintain good posture. When working from home, it’s easy to get a little too lax. Actively protecting your posture is critical. Get a lumbar support pillow and actively make yourself sit up straight with your back properly arched and shoulders back. Being proactive helps your body stay in better shape over time and will reduce the risk of problems later on. For me, I even got a desk that transitions between sitting and standing mode, and that was a life-saver. You may not need that in a temporary situation, but if working from home continues to grow, it’s something to very seriously consider if you find yourself in such a position.
- Establish a dedicated workspace. If you’ve never worked from home before, I would imagine it’s easy to just set up shop anywhere and give it a go-ahead. I found that I became a lot more efficient when I set up a specific location to work at and not all over the place. If you have a desk, clear out things that are not work-related and make that your office for now. It de-clutters your mind while working and enables you to actually focus on what you’re doing instead of seeing all of the distractions around you.
There have been a number of articles written on this subject recently with the outbreak of the Coronavirus and various responses that have shut down many businesses; this here is just my experience with working from home. If you’re in that situation, hopefully these lessons will make your stint more enjoyable, productive, and healthy.
Perhaps your new work situation has you thinking about what other changes you need to make in your life. Everyone can use a financial coach, especially since 80% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck.
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