Contributed by Sarah Hollenbeck
Sarah Hollenbeck is a writer and content marketer who is passionate about helping brands scale with smart strategies and effective copy.
Her professional history includes work in content marketing, B2B/B2C copywriting, media outreach, public relations, SEO and client communication. Her work has been featured in top-tier outlets including Forbes, The New York Post, Refinery29, Yahoo! Finance, FOX Business, Bustle and Business Insider.
For many workers, the transition to working from home (WFH) has solved some grievances we had about working in the office. But it’s also created its own unique issues.
Everyone’s work pace and strategies are a little different and WFH gives you the freedom to work at your own pace and schedule. But not everyone knows which strategies work best for their needs.
Using a bit of science, we’ve got some ideas for you to try so that you can create a WFH schedule that works for you.
1. Find Your Own Routine
Routines help keep us on track to meet our professional and personal goals. Whether you wake up with a mug of coffee each morning or start the day with your favorite podcast, you probably have some sort of routine already in place.
It’s tempting to sleep right up until you need to log on each day, but giving yourself time to get ready for work in the morning is a valuable part of your WFH routine.
Not everyone needs to dress for work to be productive. There are other rituals for “getting ready” that help prep your mind for work. The lack of commuting in your WFH routine gives you more time to get ready each day.
What if you took that commute time and created an alternative “commute” for yourself at home. Getting a quick workout or meditation in during this time helps reset your stress and gives you some extra time to relax each day.
If you make your fake commute ritual something you enjoy, then you’re more likely to stick with it. This is your time to decompress, so make time for an activity that you genuinely enjoy.
One downside of WFH is that it means that you’re spending significantly more time at home each week. There are fewer opportunities to talk to a work friend as you grab a coffee or go out to lunch with coworkers.
At the same time, as places are opening up post-lockdown, many are experiencing social exhaustion due to increased pressure to say yes to every social event.
Everyone has different social needs. Being mindful with your social calendar helps you realize when you need more time with friends and family and when it’s time to turn down an invitation.
Finding this balance can be hard because it’s not going to be the same each week. But by being mindful of how you feel and how you spend your time, you’ll start to recognize when you’re craving a social outing versus when it’s time to step back and have a night in.
3. Spend Time Outside
Everyone can benefit from some fresh air after a long day of sitting at your computer. Even just a couple of minutes outside each day positively affects your vitamin D levels and mood.
Nature walks, hiking, or sitting outside with a good book are all good ways to get you away from your computer, even for just a few minutes.
Scheduling in an outdoor workout helps you reap the benefits of some time outside while also getting some exercise in. Regular exercise is known to boost your mood, especially when it’s done outdoors.
4. Take a Lunchtime Walk
One of the easiest ways you can get outside and take a much-needed break away from your desk is by taking a lunchtime walk. We all know how hard that mid-day slump can hit you. Aside from the mental break a walk can bring, walking during the workday can spark creativity, increase energy and concentration and improve your mood. It can even help enhance communication so you can better tackle work conversations.
To make the most out of your walking lunch, make sure you change out of your slippers and into a comfortable pair of workout shoes. Start with a few dynamic stretches, like leg swings and ankle circles, then begin walking at a slow and easy pace for two to three minutes. If you’re comfortable, amp it up to a brisk walk for about 15 to 25 minutes, then end with a cool-down as you make your way back home.
Walking lunches are a simple yet effective way for you to reset and recharge so you’re ready to take on the rest of the workday.
5. Invest in Your WFH Space
Tech use is linked to poor posture and working at home in your pajamas every day isn’t helping your back pain. One solution that helps your comfort and your posture is to make some simple switches in your home office tech.
It’s important to invest in a good office chair so that your back is properly supported. Slouching for several hours a day contributes to back pain and can have long-term negative effects on your posture.
Your new desk chair isn’t going to be helping your back much if you still need to lean over to see your monitor while you work. Elevate your screen so that you can see it straight ahead. You can purchase a designated stand for this or stack some books in a pinch and elevate your monitor. In addition to preventing back problems, an ergonomic desk will help you avoid carpal tunnel and reduce eye strain.
To maximize your WFH productivity, adjust your physical workspace to simulate a real office.
- Allow as much light as possible, preferably natural light.
- Choose colors that you find energizing.
- Add plants. (There are many proven benefits!)
- Keep the temperature at 72 degrees, or something that won’t feel too warm to you.
- Add an air freshener.
6. Spend Time... Not Working from Home
Thailand, Montenegro, Portugal, and Croatia are 4 ideal countries for a remote work experience. They have a low cost of living, good weather, and plenty to do after hours.
When looking for locations to live and work remotely, look for reliable Internet access, a variety of cafes and, of course, affordable rent.
Vietnam, Bali, Georgia, Estonia, the Caribbean, Columbia, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, and Malaysia are other great locations for your next digital nomad escape. If you’re open to different locations, check out Scott’s Cheap Flights – an email newsletter that can help you snag deals with 70-90% off roundtrip flights to incredible destinations.
These tips are all easy switches that you can test out while building your WFH schedule. Check out our infographic below if you’re curious to learn more about how remote work affects your health and productivity.