At this point, we are many months into our quarantine lifestyle from COVID-19, and by now, the demands of remote work are routine. We’ve all finally figured out how to swiftly unmute on Zoom and perfected our business-on-the-top, pajama-on-the-bottom uniform.
But as time goes on and our work-from-home habits solidify, we may realize that what we’re doing is not necessarily what is best for our mental and physical health. Furthermore, studies from the CDC show that when your health declines, so do your job performance and productivity. So, it’s not only in your body’s best interest to develop a healthy routine, but also your work.
Keep a Schedule
I started off quarantine doing online classes for college, so I was able to maintain a reasonably consistent schedule based around my class meeting times. I went to bed, ate my meals, and exercised at a consistent time every day.
Once the semester was over, I started a remote internship that does not operate on a 9 to 5 schedule, and aside from weekly and monthly meetings, there are no set hours of operation. We work on our own timetables.
At first, it was difficult for me to adapt to this new environment, and I let my sleep schedule slip and ate meals at unpredictable times. This also led my workout habits to slide, since I woke up too late to workout at my preferred time in the morning.
I realized that in order to succeed in my assignments and to keep my health up, I needed to develop my own schedule that works for me. I now maintain a strict bedtime and wake-up time and set alarms for lunch and the end of my workday.
Working from home can be great because you can personalize your routine for optimal performance. Since I work better in the morning and afternoon than in the evening and night, I make sure to get my more challenging work done earlier in the day so I can be done with the difficult things before I hit a slump.
Everyone has a different time that works best for them, so play around with the times you sleep, wake up, eat, and work out, and find a schedule that works for your life.
Create a “Work Space”
Not everyone has an at-home office space, and by now, we’ve all found places that we work from in our homes. If possible, try to develop a place in your home that can act as an office and is dedicated solely for this purpose.
You may be tempted to bring the laptop into bed or on the sofa, but this can lead you to feel like you’re not really at work. It can lead to distractions or to not being able to relax in that space afterward since you associate the space with work.
You don’t need a full room to dedicate as your home office, but try to find a place that is relatively quiet, free from distractions, and allows you to work productively.
When doing my work, I sometimes sit out on the patio so I can get some fresh air, but I typically take Zoom meetings and our weekly Lunch & Learn company bonding events from the seldom-used- for-dining dining table. I have a basket to the side with all the supplies I need and my comfy office chair, and when I’m done with work for the day, I can put my laptop in the basket and relax in other areas in my house.
Keeping my work confined to this area helps me maintain a balance between work and my personal time, so I don’t feel like I am always working.
Don’t Be Afraid to Step Away
Speaking of always working, it can be really difficult to keep a balanced schedule between life and work when it feels like you’re living at work. It’s imperative that you set a “clock-out” time so your entire life is not consumed by work.
Of course, sometimes you have to grind to meet a deadline, and work emergencies come up that require working extra hours. For the most part, you must remember that just because you have the ability to conduct work 24 hours a day and 7 days a week – that doesn’t mean you should.
Maintaining a work-life balance requires discipline, understanding, and remembering the bigger picture to create a healthy routine. But with a little experimentation, you can create a balance that works for you.
About the Author
Kara Pauley is a PR/marketing analyst intern for Leda Health, an organization that serves sexual assault survivors.