All of sudden we went from having work attire, managing daily commutes, and engaging in office culture, to a 30-second commute to our living rooms, often in our PJs to makeshift office spaces, sometimes shared with partners or roommates (and kids!) in our modest European-sized apartments. To say this has affected our mental health is an understatement. We remember when it was a novelty back in March and it felt like a fun adventure–exploring new territory and establishing new routines. But now as we saunter into the kitchen for our 4th cup of coffee, stepping over dried play-doh crumbs and trying to resist the urge to deep clean our fridge instead of sitting down to all the emails that start with “I hope this finds you well” (because really? can we all just agree not to use that intro this year?), we wonder how in the world did we get here? And how can we make this more sustainable for the sake of our fragile mental states?
We know there’s no one answer. There’s no magic button, or mantra, and no amount of caffeine that can make this situation become suddenly easy. It takes time, it takes conscious decisions, it takes effort. But we wanted to know what kinds of efforts we could be making in our own routines and habits to make our work-from-home situations more pleasing and sustainable for the long-term. So we asked you! And we loved how many practical and positive answers you provided.
1. Dress for work
This was one of the most popular responses. The importance of dressing up and wearing “real clothes” is essential for our psyche and to mentally prepare ourselves for a work day. Our environment isn’t changing much these days, so changing our outfits is crucial to signal that it’s time to work. This also involves wearing SHOES. Though this will be a tough sell for us because our house slippers are just so comfortable 😉
2. Carve out time for "a commute"
A 20-minute walk around the neighborhood, or when it’s miserable out and you’d rather stay in, make a coffee and read or listen to a podcast (as you would on a bus or train). Carving out that short time in the morning before work, and after work to decompress, can make a huge difference.
3. Perform a "Brain Dump" regularly
Is there anything more gratifying than crossing things off of a list? Yep–for us, it’s dumping those things onto the list. A “brain dump” is a way to get all of those things that are floating around in your mind (sometimes subconsciously) out in the open. You often feel physically lighter after doing it. The best part is, you don’t necessarily need to get all of those things done–it’s just a way to clear your mind and move forward.
4. Re-adjust time expectations
Perhaps you don’t need to spend an entire 8 hours at your computer now that you’re working from home. Many are finding that they are able to be more productive and get things done in a shorter amount of time…and that’s ok! Take a longer lunch break or end the day earlier so you can get outside for a refreshing walk.
5. Invest in good equipment
Ergonomic chairs, a comfortable and responsive mouse, a great keyboard are all small things that can make a huge impact on your day to day work routine. Some companies are allowing you to borrow equipment or are providing employees with an “allowance” to purchase these types of things for their homes.
6. Block breaks in your calendar
Putting boundaries and limits in your workday calendar may have seemed like overstepping pre-pandemic, but now it’s essential. Many of you also mentioned to close or shutdown your computer during lunch breaks, or if you have the luxury of having your office in a separate room in the house, leaving the room and closing that door when you’re not working.
We also want to give a BIG SHOUT OUT to the essential workers who do not have the luxury to work from home. We may not be cheering from our balconies anymore, but know that we are so grateful for each and every one of you.
A few other simple work-from-home tips we’ve read or heard about: