It’s probably fair to say that last year, when we set up our impromptu work from home spaces, most of us never thought we’d still be there 13 months later. As even Reese Witherspoon can attest to, regular work clothes- at least from the bottom down- are a thing of the past. But is any semblance of a healthy work-life balance too?
According to a recent survey we carried out in partnership with Irish clean smart energy providers, Pinergy, 83% of our readers reported a change in their daily routine since the COVID-19 pandemic began. While this isn’t surprising, it is perhaps a little concerning. It indicates that whatever routines we held, and that worked for us, have fallen by the wayside. Some positive changes have been made; we hope. But if you feel like the changes that have occurred in your life are less than ideal, here are 5 ways to improve your work-life balance as you work from home.
Image: Heather Bullard
Set up your morning routine
Our homes are really working overtime these days, and many of them have spent the past year acting as home offices, home schools, gyms, hobby spaces as well as homes. Don’t underestimate the importance of interior design to make everything run that little bit smoother.
Let that start first thing in the morning. A study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that even a quick morning workout will improve attention, visual learning, and decision-making. If you have fancy equipment, great. But if all you have is a yoga mat, also great. Have them ready and accessible first thing in the morning. Perhaps in the same space, you could also set up a table with a candle or essential oil burner, speakers to listen to a motivational podcast, and also an Oprah-recommended gratitude journal. Before settling down at your desk pre-COVID, you might’ve enjoyed a coffee on the way to work. Recreate that same little pick-me-up by setting up a coffee station in your kitchen. It could be something like this extensive set-up pictured above, or it could just be a tray with pretty canisters and a covered cake stand, but it’ll add just that little bit of joy to your morning routine.
Image: Pottery Barn
Try to stick to a desk
We’re all guilty of it- taking calls from your couch, having work papers scattered around your bedside table, and answering emails from your kitchen. While, on one hand, it feels like possibly the one and only perk of COVID; working from bed. But on the other hand, eventually it just begins to feel like you’re living at work.
This ain’t good, according to Nicole Beurkens, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of Life Will Get Better. “People who have blurred, or non-resistant, boundaries between their work and personal lives tend to have higher levels of stress and feel more distressed over time—eventually developing all of the health issues that come along with it,” she says.
As much as you possibly can, stick to working at your desk during set desk hours. Once you move away from it, you’re “off” and back in “living mode” as opposed to “being at work” (even if this actually just means you’re moving a metre away to slightly different part of your living room, as is the case for many).
Pimp your patio
Getting enough daylight can be a challenge to those of us stuck in undesirable climates, or even those of us without a garden. Where possible, we'd highly recommend that you make the most of whatever bit of natural daylight you can get. Make your garden, patio or balcony as welcoming as possible with garden furniture and cheerful accessories.
The benefits of outdoor time are obvious, but the main one is the importance of Vitamin D, which we get from the sun and which is found to reduce depression and anxiety. We probably don’t need to point out why this is so important right now.
Keep an eye on our Instagram, as we'll be posting lots of cute ideas for outdoor living, as well as where you can find our favourite pieces.
Image: Stephanie Sterjovski
It's increasingly common for us to find ourselves spending most of the day with a phone, laptop, or both, in our hands. A year ago, this might've been something of more of a light-hearted concern. But now that we're working from home, it's becoming more intrusive.
"These technologies are so ubiquitous and convenient that it can lead some people to think that employees have to be always on or always available. Clearly, this kind of after-hours intrusion into the home or personal life domain is unhealthy, and our research shows that an always-on mentality has a big downside in the form of increased job stress." Forbes magazine mentioned in their coverage of a study by the American Psychology Association.
You only really have two solutions to this problem. One; communicate your need for boundaries with your workmates. And, two; keep your phone and laptop out of your living space. If possible, keep them in a designated space- a space that you don't visit after hours. If you don't have a separate work phone, or this feels a bit too Little House on the Prairie for you, turn your phone face-down and leave it on a table until you absolutely have to pick it up. That might sound like simple pretty elementary level advice, but it's probably harder than you think.
Image: The Everygirl
Make your desk happy
Our final, and most fun piece of advice for you is to make your workspace a nice place to be. Adorn it with whatever puts a smile on your face and keeps you motivated. Get the good energy flowing with plants, crystals, candles, music... whatever you like. The reasoning behind this is fairly self-explanatory. The more enjoyable your workspace is, the more you will enjoy your work. The more you enjoy work, the more you enjoy working from home.
We hope these tidbits help you to work from home in a more peaceful and efficient way, and that even those who cannot work from home find something valuable here. We're conscious of the fact that many of you are front-line and essential workers, who don't have the luxury of working from home. From all of us at House and Home; you have our deepest appreciation.
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