No one has ever won a war dressed in pajamas, right? Taking a shower and putting on even a plain pair of jeans and a sweater can make a world of difference.
And why not applying light natural make up? Or a little spritz of that nice-smelling eau de toilette, in the case of men. Just because we are going to work at home doesn’t mean we have to spend our lives in pajamas and slippers.
And what other tips could I give you to work from home while preserving your mental health, and with maximum output?
This article includes the following topics
Designate a quiet workplace
If this is possible in your home, designate a quiet workplace, and talk to your family members about how you expect them to respect that space.
Personalize your work environment to make it a pleasant area to work in. If you work better in complete silence, ensure there’s no noise, by choosing a room away from the road where you can enjoy the quiet you long for.
If, like me, you work better with music, work by an open window with a view of nature, choose an appropriate room and put a vinyl on the record player—but keep the volume low and explain to your family that you don’t want to be disturbed.
In my case, I have a small “Home Office” integrated in the living room. If that’s your case, decorate your corner with good taste, according to your personality, and make it as comfortable as possible—for example, bet on an ergonomic chair and equip your desk with a good adjustable desk lamp.
You don’t necessarily have to neglect decorative elements, and you can integrate your work corner into the decor of the room where it is located.
Have shelves or other storage spaces as close to your desk as possible so you can use office supplies—or a paper dictionary, for example—without having to constantly leave your desk.
Here I’m not referring to music for those who like to work (or live) with a soundtrack. Working from home means that you will face potential distractions throughout the day that could derail your concentration.
These distractions are not always external, like a child running around the house or the next-door neighbor ringing the doorbell to borrow an egg or two.
Sometimes, the factors that make us scatter are much closer to us. Anyone who works from home lives surrounded by online temptations.
Even if you are not dependent on social networks and only use them when you feel bored or to reply to a friend, you may still find yourself on this ruse if the work you are doing is especially tedious.
Even if your crime is wasting an hour on YouTube watching comical kitten videos to escape a tedious financial report. Control the time you allow yourself to spend online other than for research purposes, so that the digital environment presents you with minimal mousetraps.
Be brave and ignore housework
It’s okay to put the dishes in the dishwasher after breakfast before you start your workday, but don’t let yourself get “lost” in housework chores.
How many times have we intended to spend 5 minutes on a small task before starting work and we end up spending one hour without realizing it?
I learned many years ago that it’s helpful to create a schedule for cleaning and other chores and stick to it like glue. Get organized. For example, make a list of chores and don’t put any of them off.
Get into the habit of washing the dishes you’ve used while cooking, while waiting for your food to cook on the stove and doing the remaining dishes as soon as you finish the meal.
If you don’t pile up, you won’t have to pretend not to see the mess when duty calls. If you are a bit of an Obsessive-Compulsive Cleaner like me, you’ll suffer twice as much from having to procrastinate.
Try to plan meals
Try to plan meals well in advance and always have food in the house that allows for making quick meals in case of unforeseen circumstances.
If you wake up half an hour earlier in the morning, you can leave a snack prepared for your afternoon break and use the rest of you break to watch an episode of your favorite series on Netflix or take a short walk in the park.
Or why not get an earlier start in the morning to finish work earlier at the end of the day and share an episode of that great series with your better half before dinner?
Take short breaks
Don’t forget to take breaks, but don’t overdo it.
One of the pitfalls for those who work at home is working many hours straight without breaks, and so often bringing your lunch plate to your desk and eating virtually on top of the keyboard without taking your eyes off the screen (and crumbs have a nasty effect on the durability of a keyboard, but I won’t even go there!).
The opposite is just as dangerous. Some people are tempted to take too many (or too long) breaks and are later forced to work through the night.
Unless an unforeseen and uncontrollable problem arises, stay the heck away from unplanned breaks! Force yourself to leave your desk to eat your meals and take a coffee or a meditation break in the afternoon.
You’ll find that you return to your desk with a much more productive attitude and will definitely make up for the time you’ve “stolen” from work.
Don’t forget physical activity
If you go to a gym, include in your “To Do List” at least two workouts a week and use Saturday for a third one.
You deserve that little indulgence, and you can always make up for it by arranging your schedule accordingly.
If you are like me and your idea of exercise is walking your dogs in the park or practicing Step on the Wii Board, don’t forget to include those activities on your list and organize the rest accordingly.
Take a vacation
For many years I had a hard time with taking vacations… Initially because, since I was a freelancer, taking a few days off would definitely drain my wallet.
Years later, in spite being in a more stable financial situation, I didn’t know what to do with so much free time on hand.
Only when I started working for the company and this meant I would have to really take the vacation days to which I was entitled, I realized that I wouldn’t be bored: I would get to spend a lot of quality time with my loved ones and even enjoy being alone with myself and organize my thoughts.
I realized that we return to work with a refreshed perspective and much more energized! It’s essential to take consecutive days off. Don’t fall into the trap of only taking a day or two, here and there, just because “you aren’t going anywhere.”
Try to manage the expectations you have of yourself
If you demand or expect too much from yourself, the only thing you get is a strong feeling of inferiority or certified inability.
Nobody is perfect. Expecting too much of yourself is a recipe for failure. Also, think about the expectations your team may have of you.
When you are at home, there can be a tendency to think that you should always be able to fit something in. Never fail to speak up when you feel that a task may be too big or complicated for you.
If the work volume is too much to manage, you’ll end up working well below your capacity, sooner or later. If necessary, it may be more productive to plan a certain amount of work for the evening, or even the weekend, than to spend too many hours at the computer being unproductive.
Pay attention to your family
If your children or your partner are frustrated with the time you spend on the computer, don’t forget to dedicate them more of your free time.
Try to do more activities with your children or spouse on the weekend. Sometimes, a simple movie session on the couch with homemade popcorn—leaving everyone’s cell phones locked in the bedroom—can work wonders!
Meditate on the meaning of work
Studies indicate that in addition to the dangers of the digital environment, the lack of positive feelings about a task contributes largely to procrastination.
When we work at home, we’re exposed to lots of things that are personally dear or important to us. In comparison, even if unconsciously, our work may present itself as less important.
This can happen especially with women, and especially when they are mums, as we may be programmed with a “sense of duty” towards the home and children.
This contrast contributes to a lack of focus and leads to a reduction in productivity and concentration, which is especially dangerous because it’s not even on a conscious level.
Be aware of the importance of your work for your family, for the home, and for yourself as a human being.
Having said that, and according to my own reasoning, not all homes are perfectly organized—or organizable—and perfection is not at all the goal of this article (see the paragraph on managing expectations above).
The idea behind these suggestions is to make telework work in your favor, despite the difficulties.
As Leo Tolstoy said: If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.