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Over the last year and a half, many of us have had to experience working from home for the first time. And for some of us, working remotely will be a permanent change – whether moving to a hybrid of working from home some of the time and in the office the rest of the week, or working from home for the foreseeable future – and something that will take getting used to. Although some people thrive when working from home, for others, it can be a struggle. No matter which category you fall under, we’ve put together some tips for how to survive working from home; to keep your productivity up, but most importantly, to keep your sanity. 

1. Get dressed 

We know, it’s tempting to crawl out of bed and straight onto your laptop (or perhaps even stay in bed for those Zoom meetings), but it’s not doing any good for your motivation or your mental health. One of the best things you can do for yourself when working from home is to get up every morning and get dressed. That doesn’t mean having to put on the full get-up, but at least changing from your ‘relaxation’ clothes to your ‘it’s time to do some work’ clothes. And yes, yoga pants count. Just be sure to put on something that’s both comfortable and suitable for any meetings you’ve got on that day. This signals to your brain that it’s not the weekend, you’re not home sick from work, and that it’s time to get productive. You’ll see, it will do wonders for your headspace. 

2. Keep a consistent sleep routine 

Even though you’ve cut out the morning commute from your workday, that’s no reason to stay up all night binging on Netflix. You’ll only end up making yourself more tired the next day and you’ll struggle to get into the groove of things when the workday starts. Keeping to the same sleep schedule contributes to your sleep quality and helps you to function throughout the day. It helps you to be more productive, perform tasks more effectively, and stay more focused. So, for the sake of your energy levels and motivation during the day, set yourself a regular bedtime and waking time. 

3. Have a dedicated workspace 

Just as getting dressed and having a proper sleep schedule will help your brain to get into the mood for work each day and stay focused, so too will having a dedicated workspace. Whether it’s a spare-room-turned-office, the kitchen table, or the couch, just be sure it’s not somewhere that you spend your time sleeping or doing most of your relaxing. This can be tricky if your space is limited at home, of course. So, if you’re stuck with using the couch, try to set up a coffee table or somewhere flat to put your computer or tablet, and support your back and neck as best you can. The aim of the game here is to mentally separate your ‘home’ spaces and your ‘work’ space, so that you can once again give your brain the cue that it’s time for getting work done. Likewise, once work is done, putting away your desk or moving to another ‘relaxation’ area of the home will let your brain know that it’s time to decompress and switch off from work mode. 

4. Take regular breaks

It can be tempting to work right through the day when you’re working from home, to either get extra work done or to finish earlier than planned. However, this can be harmful to both your productivity and your mental health, and can even lead to burnout. Be sure to schedule yourself regular breaks and do something other than making another cup of coffee during this time. Get out of your chair or off the couch, take a walk outside, or simply move around the house for a few minutes. It’s also really important to eat properly during these breaks to keep your mind and body fueled – so don’t skip meals! 

5. Create relaxation rituals 

Despite your best intentions, getting dressed, working from a dedicated space each day, and keeping a good sleep routine, you still might have issues ‘switching off’ from the stress of work each day. You’re not alone. In fact, at least half of Australians have experienced increased levels of stress due to the disruptions to work routines and organisation that the pandemic has caused. If you found it hard to take your mind off work before, working from home has likely made it that much more difficult. Thankfully, there are some really simple things you can do to correct your stress levels when working from home. Creating some ‘relaxation rituals’ is key. These will further prompt your mind that it’s time to stop thinking about work, and time to be in ‘home mode’. Here are some examples: 

  • Take a shower once the workday is done and change into some ‘at home’ clothes 
  • Put your laptop or tablet away and clear away any work clutter until the next day
  • Put some of your favourite music on and do a quick clean up of the house (put your coffee mug away, clear up any chargers and cables, etc.)
  • Take a walk or take some time for exercise before and/or after your workday 
  • Get outside and get some sunshine and fresh air – both during your breaks and after work 
  • Cook something for you and/or the family and sit down to dinner together 
  • Put on the television and watch your favourite show
  • Make yourself a cup of tea and sit down to read a book 
  • Call a friend or loved one for a chat and decompress about your day 
  • Schedule your sessions with your counsellor or psychologist and keep them up to date about how working from home is going 

6. Reach out when you need to 

Perhaps most importantly of all, remember that you’re not the only one who’s finding it a struggle. Even though working from home sounds great for many of us in theory, it can be tough to get used to. And even for those of us who quite enjoy working solo and spending time alone, working from home can be more challenging than expected. That’s why it’s so important to reach out for support when you need it. Whether it’s calling a friend or colleague to chat about your day, or making time for regular counselling sessions to help you with strategies for maintaining your motivation and supporting your mental health – we all need a little support sometimes. 

If you’re finding working from home difficult, if your mental health is suffering as a result, or if you’re simply having a hard time keeping your focus throughout the workday, there are many strategies that can help. Reach out to us today for a consultation about how our counselling, psychology, and life coaching services can support you to make the most of working from home –  not just to survive, but to thrive. 

Michelle van Namen
Author: Michelle van Namen