Freelancing

How To Maintain Your Sanity When You Work From Home

how to maintain your sanity when you work online

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All around the world, remote work grows in popularity. More and more companies let their workers stay home and encourage it whenever possible. This is a very good opportunity to stay safe while we are all worried about the global pandemic. Google, Morgan Stanley, and Amazon are just 3 of the companies that encourage remote work.

Working from home has its clear advantages, but the disadvantages have to be mentioned. It can be very hard to maintain your sanity when you do work at home, especially if deadlines are tight.

Fortunately for me, I have been working at home for a very long time now. It is only recently that I got an actual full-time position at Digital Muscle Australia. So, for me, it is very easy to work from home. My friends though… most of them are feeling like they are losing their minds. Since you are here, there is a pretty good possibility you also struggle.

The good news is that it gets better in time, as long as you take actions to improve the situation you are in. Usually, the real reason why you struggle with working from home is that you were used to the regular work environment. It is hard to change something you have been doing for a long time. If you do want to do it right, here are the best tips I can give you.

Adjust Expectations

Woman distracted during a safety presentation.
Woman distracted at a safety presentation – Source

If you work from home because of the pandemic, the situation is different than when you do this without the added stress. There might be other people that are at home and you should never underestimate the anxiety that comes from watching news in regards to outbreaks. You should never expect to be incredibly productive, especially at first.

The big problem when you work at home is that it is very easy to be distracted. The exact same thing can be said about your coworkers. You have to expect to see pets and kids come and go. Your baby might cry at the worst possible time and many other things can happen.

Always Have A Plan In Place

Always have a plan when doing work from home.

If you do not have external reminders, you can easily lose sight of what you have to do, deadlines, and a whole lot more. You need a plan to be on top of everything.

This can be done in many ways. You can create a formal schedule, a to-do-list, or anything else that works for you. Basically, when the day starts, create a plan that includes everything you will have to do. This plan should be written down.

Keep in mind that a huge advantage of remote work is the freedom that you gain. You can create a work schedule that perfectly fits your preferences. If you know that you cannot work before 12 PM (guilty here), you can schedule something else during mornings, like cleaning the house or cooking.

Create A Morning Routine

Coffee time - establish a morning routine

Every single workday I wake up, wash up, grab a cup of coffee and then enjoy it in silence while I check personal emails. Then I eat, walk the dogs, and only after that I start working. This gets my mind ready for work and makes me more productive.

Many people that work from home wake up and then go straight to the area of the house that is the office. This is not at all a good idea because you need to have a transition period. The morning routine gets the brain ready for work, just like when you commute to an office.

As time passes, you can add something new to the routine, but just do not be overly ambitious.

Create A Home Work Space

Home office example

You NEED a home office. You cannot just sit on a random couch or chair. The workspace you create should be:

  • Quiet – Avoid high traffic areas.
  • Convenient – You need an appropriate work surface, based on what you do. For instance, I have a large desk set up near a window to get natural light and fresh air.
  • Ergonomic – I could work on a couch but that would not be very comfortable. Your workspace has to be well-lit, comfortable for the long-term, be well-lit, and offer back support.

Eliminate Distractions

sad ignored dog
Yes, even your best friend is a distraction 🙁 Play with him after work hours!

When you work in an office, factory, or any other place, distractions are minimal. All you do is work there, except for breaks. You have to create a similar environment at home, one that actively minimizes distractions.

Luckily, you can use many different tools to minimize distractions. Here are some suggestions:

  • A Timer – It helps you to focus as you time breaks and work sessions.
  • A Time-Tracking App – You can use Rescue Time or a similar app to see exactly where your time flies. Time-tracking applications help you so much more than you initially think.
  • A Site-Blocking App – When you lose most of your time because you end up on websites, or social media, site-blocking apps help.
  • A Place To Put Your Phone – You can check social media on your phone too, right?

Establish Clear Boundaries

Working late at night!

There are numerous boundaries that you need to set. The obvious ones are related to people in the home that should not interrupt you while you work. The less obvious ones are related to how much you work.

You can easily find yourself working for hours and hours, without a break. When you see yourself working late during the night, you keep checking work emails even if you are supposed to do something else, or you skip lunch because you want to finish something, reevaluate the work-life balance you have.

Set your office hours and do all that you can to stick to them. While it is normal from time to time to go over them, this should be rare.

Don’t Forget To Relax

woman playing with dog
Told you to play with the dog. Do it!

I often see people more stressed when they work from home than when they work in an office. This is oftentimes because they do not relax and they do not realize that stress levels are too high. You need to relax from time to time, especially when you work from home.

Have at least one day of the week in which you just do things that are relaxing for you. Also, do not forget about your health. You need to eat right, sleep as much as your body needs, and exercise 3 times per week to maintain optimum health.

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