Under normal circumstances, commuting from my bed to my kitchen table is a dream commute. Especially given that I live in Los Angeles, where it can take you 30 minutes to drive five miles. But we can all agree, these are not normal circumstances and working from home these days don’t always feel like a perk. Truth is, it feels a little like an adult time-out.
I’m not loving it, but I get that it’s necessary. So, after weeks in quarantine, I’ve made peace with our current situation and have adopted some strategies to help me be productive and less anxious as I work from home.
Here’s what I do:
1. I have a good morning routine
I probably sound like a digital echo chamber given how often I go on about the importance of morning routines. But that’s because they really are that important. I’ve modified my usual routine to add a couple of “self-care” steps and a perk for the times, e.g. drinking my coffee from a latte glass. An early morning walk and a few niceties help me start my day on the right note.
2. I signed up for a meal delivery
In the good old days that was February 2020, having a smoothie in the car on my way to work was the first half of my breakfast. During quarantine, even the 5 minutes it now takes to make a smoothie feels like work I’d rather not do. Signing up for Splendid Spoon solved that problem. Now, I get a supply of smoothies every week which taste way better than mine, and are more filling too.
3. I make an effort with my appearance
When I started to WFH in March, I stopped making an effort to dress for work. But the one day I had to, reminded me that I’m a woman and such things do matter to me. I’ve since ditched worn tees for nicer ones, make effort with my hair, and on days when I’m doing a Zoom call, I might apply lipgloss and mascara. The 10 minutes I put into getting dressed for my day, is absolutely worth it.
4. I distraction-proof my surroundings
I’m a big believer that our environment affects our mood so I try to tidy up in the evenings. It’s the first step in distraction-proofing my home for the following work day. I know myself and if I didn’t do that, I’d use housework to distract myself when I should be working.
Other things to distraction-proof my space—concentration playlists, hanging out with my team on Slack and keeping my personal cell phone in my handbag and not on my desk.
5. I take a full hour lunch break
During quarantine, walking to a nearby park after I eat lunch helps get me out of the house. I’m also taking advantage of free streaming classes, and started a Nike Run challenge with a neighbor. I can do these things because I’m taking a full hour lunch break.
6. I connect with co-workers during the day
Thanks to our group Slack, we have a couple of social threads to follow. The “recipe” thread is one of my favorites. By joining my team on Slack, I don’t feel like I have to work extra to prove I’m not slacking off at home. They’re my witness I’m available and “at work.”
7. I have a functioning office set-up
When working from home, it helps to have a real office setup. I have a monitor, an ergonomic office chair, and a wireless mouse to give me a functioning office. With it, I can work just as fast and efficiently as when I worked from the office.
8. I buy flowers
I don’t know if the $10 a week I spend on them can be considered a self-care treat, but it makes me feel like a boss having flowers on my desk.
9. I switch off when the workday ends
Of everything I do, probably the most helpful thing is to make sure to switch off work when the work day is done. I close the laptop and turn my kitchen table back to being a kitchen table. This makes me feel like I’m home.
10. I have a regular bedtime routine
I take advantage of having more free time by sticking to a regular bedtime routine. More stress means we need more rest, not less. I try to get that rest and it helps.
You hear the term “we’re living in unprecedented times” a lot these days. The term has become a cliché, but it really is true. These really are extraordinary times. I don’t quite agree with the people who say, do whatever helps you cope. This will lead some people to think it’s okay to drink booze, smoke more weed, stay up later, beat their spouse and children, etc. When we’re going through challenging times like these, we need to practice more healthy habits, not fewer. We need to baby ourselves, speak more softly to each other, have more patience with the people who serve us.
Be grateful for every. little. thing.