While some of us are packing up our makeshift home offices and heading back to traditional offices — but there are a lot of us who are still working from home. So much has changed that a lot of us may never go back to a traditional office. While this might be a welcome change, doing your work from home can come with its own unique challenges.
We’ve been working from home (WFH) for a good while, we’re basically pros. But now, what slowly creeps upon each and every one of us is that work from the home slump.
The work from the home slump is characterized by rolling out of bed and heading straight to the desk, wearing the same t-shirt for days in a row, working in our jammies, and playing Jenga with used espresso cups on our desks. We’ve gotten too comfortable and it feels, for a lack of a better word — slumpy.
If you’re catching my drift it might be time to spruce up your home office routines and get out of that WFH slump. Here are 6 tips to feel your best while working from home.
1. Give yourself a dress code
You’ve got to change your clothes in the morning and put on an office acceptable outfit. You’ve likely heard this WFH advice before (and ignored it) but it really is a powerful routine. Working in your jammies sends some mixed messages to your brain and can affect your performance. If you’re working in an old t-shirt and boxers, then you’re working through a PJ haze.
If you get dressed as if you’re going into the office, it changes how you carry yourself, how you communicate, and how productive you are. Research shows that professionals who don workplace attire feel more authoritative and competent. Style your hair, put on cologne — do whatever makes you feel put together.
To make this realistic, maybe you don’t need to dress to the nines, (no pressed button-ups or ties), but change as if you were going to meet a friend at the coffee shop. This helps kick your brain into work mode.
2. Add plants to your space (and try to keep them alive)
For most of us, we’re stuck inside looking at our computers and talking on our headsets. After a while, this can cause its own “slumpy” feeling all on its own. Research has found that “green offices” are 15 percent more productive than offices without plants.
If your space is lean without any leafy friends, consider adding a few plants. When in doubt, add some greenery and get more done.
Besides productivity, green offices were also found to produce higher levels of job satisfaction and may reduce ADHD symptoms.
Opt for hardy indoor plants that won’t require high maintenance. Plants like sansevieria, ZZ plant, or golden pothos make great low-maintenance office plants.
3. Create a new “commute”
Your commute these days is pretty easy, eh? Rolling out of bed, switching the kettle on, and logging onto Slack in one fail swoop is made pretty easy. But, to avoid that WFH slump, give yourself a “commute” time.
While you’re not trudging through traffic, creating a makeshift commute time still gives you the mental space to prepare, and spend time with yourself.
The WFH slump is the precursor to WFH burnout. So, if you’re feeling like your days are swallowed up by work, you’ve got to carve out some time for yourself.
One method is the makeshift commute. Put on a podcast, stretch, do a quick workout, make coffee and breakfast, go stand in the sun, or call your mom. Then – after around 20 minutes, log onto Slack.
4. Schedule “head down” time
Heads down vs. heads up is not a new idea. But, it certainly is having a resurgence. While working from home it can feel like you should be accessible at all times. But, that is not very productive. That can turn into sitting in back-to-back meetings where nothing gets done.
Combat this by scheduling “head down” time where you will be focusing on deadlines, deliverables, or details and are unavailable for meetings. After a bit of “heads down,” you’ll be ready for “heads up” meetings where collaboration is alive and productive.
Consider introducing the idea to your team and align some “head down” time.
See Also: 3 Safe and Natural Stress Remedies
5. Feeling overwhelmed? Get a cube timer to aid in time blocking
Too many things, so little time. It can feel like there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. It can feel like your mind is bouncing from one task to another but making very little headway. Try time blocking and using a desk timer.
Picking a task, and setting a timer helps aid in focus because you know that time isn’t escaping you and all you have to do is work until you hear the beep. After the “beep” you can decide if you need more time or if that task is done for the day.
Get a timer that can be quickly set to 5, 10, 15, 30, or 60 minutes. Choose the task, set the timer, and get going.
6. Take micro-breaks, every two hours
Back when we were all at an office, we took more breaks than we probably realized. Getting up to go to the bathroom, to get a bite in the cafeteria, talking with a co-worker in the break room. There were these regular bite-sized breaks throughout the day that helped to keep us going.
While it can feel like you have everything at your fingertips while you work from home, from a sandwich, a coffee, and the loo. Often we are working through and never getting up from our desks all day.
But that is a recipe for burnout. Make sure you take a break every 90 minutes or 2 hours. Just to stretch, move your legs, breathe, go outside, or return a text. You don’t need to work through, you deserve micro breaks while WFH too.
(Hey, you could set a break timer, too.)