Work from home; keep your sanity.

Mar 26, 2020


 Author: Natalie Mellin


Working from home may seem like a dream for many people. That is until you have to do it yourself. All of a sudden you realize just how much you need to vacuum, how lonely it can get, and why it’s important to set ground rules with the people (and pets!) you share your space with. 

Given our recent circumstances, many of us are now working in spaces where we normally spend our down-time. So, things are looking and feeling a little different.

Here are a few tips to help you adjust to working from home while in self-isolation. We, (and the world!) thank you for doing your part.


1. Stick to a routine

Many home workers will tell you about the importance of simply getting dressed in the morning. Just because we can lounge around in our pajamas doesn’t mean we should. Treat the day as if you are going to the office: Wake up at a consistent time, take a shower, get dressed, and take a short walk before you set up in front of your computer for the day.


2. Designate a specific working space

Designate a space devoted only for work.  If you can, invest in a comfortable chair and of course watch out for ‘tech neck’.  If you are using a laptop and can’t use an external monitor, place your laptop on a pile of books to elevate your sightline and give your neck some rest. Your eyes should be level to the top of your monitor. You could stand up and walk around while on conference calls. Speaking of standing, do it often. We are talking at least once an hour.

For an ergonomic setup, check out:


3. Set ground rules

Have a discussion with your children, spouse, partner, roommate, or pet hamster about what you need from them to be successful. By setting expectations early, you will help to mitigate tension and instead will create a calm space for everyone. It was difficult for me when my husband was home for three months last year. The day he came into my office with the vacuum and ushered me to move was the day we set the ground rules.

I’ll give you my ground rules as an example:

During work hours the TV stays off and the housework gets put on pause. It is too easy to get distracted with laundry, dusting, vacuuming, etc. Especially if you are a master procrastinator.

Also, if you can tell me how to teach the dog not to go out for a pee every 95 seconds, that would be a major help.


4. Set your intentions and take breaks

This is a good time to brush up on your time management skills. Begin every day by identifying what you need to focus on and how you intend to do it. Be realistic when making your list. It’s so easy to become overly ambitious, but this isn’t setting you up for success. And to ensure strong mental health be sure to block time in your calendar for breaks. This will ensure that you plan your time realistically and also give you time to recharge.


5. Ramp up the communication

You may be used to being in close proximity to your colleagues. During isolation, it is important to keep those communication lines open. This will help with feelings of loneliness. Luckily today there are tons of tools available to help with video calls, digital chats and even digital whiteboards or collaboration programs. There are even tools to set up virtual break areas, for those who want to grab a coffee and socialize in between work. And don’t forget, with so much of the communication happening digitally, empathy is more important than ever.


6. Practice self-care

Being in a positive frame of mind can be as easy as having a shower or getting some physical activity into your day. I notice a big difference in my own mental health when I get a workout in compared to when I don’t. Self-care is immensely important. So, whether you enjoy exercise, meditation, reading for pleasure, or afternoon naps, make sure to prioritize this in your new daily routine.


For some, this may be quite obvious, but this can actually be a challenge for many people. For example, research from the World Economic Forum shows evidence of health and wellbeing taking a hit while working from home. Especially when it leads to the blurring of work and non-work boundaries. So even if this WFH setup may not be a long-term route for us all, it is important for us to be better at taking care of ourselves as well as others through the means we have today. 

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