Working from home can be a gift and a curse. You’re confined to a box for weeks on end like a musty, forgotten pet hamster — but you’re still expected to run your ass off in that hamster wheel? Without the depressing commute, annoying back-to-back meetings and interruptive coworker drive-bys — how is anyone expected to get anything done?
Sarcasm aside, many people find working from home difficult. Getting through your workday with only the sporadic conference call to timestamp your existence can be totally disorienting. Without some kind of schedule to follow, many people are unable to start and stop tasks, prioritize projects, and are left feeling unproductive and guilty come 5PM. On top of that, all of this discombobulation is underlined by an anxiety about what is going on in the world. So, in the interest of your mental health, here are some ways to add structure to your work from home day to help you feel happy, healthy, productive — and more in control of your time.
Set an alarm to wake up and move
Starting your day with physical exercise will immediately put you in a good mood. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which are literally feel-good chemicals that minimize discomfort and reduce anxiety. You will feel the effects after just five minutes of movement — so even if you are just doing jumping jacks in your PJs, that counts.
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Start your business day with a shower (and get ready)
Some experts advise putting on actual work clothes because it tricks your brain into getting into the work mindset. I would advise against this because you are not Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. WFH outfits are a great opportunity to be comfortable while looking cute. Even if you are just throwing on a blouse or sweater, some (preferably clean) leggings, and some cute flats or moccasins, you will feel fresh AF and ready to tackle your to-do list. And you won’t be scrambling to throw a blazer over your ripped, coffee-stained band t-shirt when that impromptu video call pops up.
Caffeinate, eat, relax and set your to-do list
This is also a great time to set your priorities and tasks for the day. Jot down a to-do list, and assign priority levels and difficulty levels to each item so you know what order you need to tackle them in. Grab another cup of coffee, and then (and only then) you are ready to open your computer.
SEE ALSO: How to boost your confidence at work.
Create your workspace and tackle your tasks
Start completing tasks one by one: starting with the most difficult items or items you marked as high priority (read: attached to cold-sweat-inducing deadlines). Your brain is at peak focus at the top of the day — and therefore best equipped to tackle tasks that require more critical thinking. Even if you don’t finish them, planning an approach will still make it easier to move the work forward. If you mitigate the stress of uncertainty surrounding how you’ll tackle a new or troublesome task, you will feel lighter and more energized for the rest of the day, allowing you to move through your progressively easier tasks as smooth as Michael Jackson's Criminal.
RELATED: 15 phrases you need to stop using in your work e-mails.
Schedule small breaks throughout the day (you deserve it)
Pro tip for work-from-home breaks:Don’t enjoy your chill time by your computer. Shut its stupid face (violently, if it’s satisfying) and physically leave your workspace to enjoy another location of your home.
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Eat a healthy(ish) lunch to keep you fuelled for the rest of the day
If you are lazy like me, or did not join the hordes of grocery hunters stocking up on Y2K-levels of supplies, you can feel great about the fact that ordering food for delivery will probably save someone’s job. Not all heroes wear capes. Some of them wear mustard-stained ACDC t-shirts (and drop your eats right at your door).
RELATED: 20 healthy 5-ingredient lunch ideas you can make quickly.
Enjoy phone calls and focus on the interactions
Pro work-from-home conference call tip:Try to schedule your calls in a block so that you can carve out this time for distraction-free periods in a quiet space. Find something or someone to occupy your kids, lock your needy cat out of the room and put on your “pleasant” voice.
End your workday: Know when to stop working
SEE ALSO: 20 work-from-home mistakes to avoid.
Create a consistent bedtime
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