11 Tips To Stay Healthy and Productive While Working From Home
For those accustomed to working from an office, making the transition to working from home during the coronavirus lockdown can come with a slew of unforeseen circumstances and challenges. However the transition needn’t compromise your mental health or productivity. Scroll down for EAT SMARTER’s top tips and tricks for staying happy, healthy and productive during your at-home work day.
1. Develop a schedule and stick to it
If you’re not used to working from home, the line between leisure and work time can often get burred. In fact, on average those who work from home tend to work longer hours than in the office. Therefore its important to set a regimented routine while you’re working from home, to ensure you’re meeting your goals yet not overworking. Set strict times for when you will start and end work during the day, exactly as you would at the office, and stick to them.
Breaks are also important, so plan for a lunch break and regular, short breaks.
2. Get dressed for work
If you’re working from your own coach, it’s extremely tempting to just work in sweatpants or your pajamas. However this might disrupt your productivity, as getting dressed can help signal to the brain that it's time to go to work. Don’t think you have to change into formal or everyday work clothes, though. A comfortable shirt and pair of pants is a great option.
3. Set up a dedicated workspace
Setting up a specific work area in your home is a great way to get back on track with your work. Our brains link certain functions and behaviors with different parts of your home - cooking in the kitchen, sleeping in the bedroom, and eating at the dining table, for instance. It’s therefore important that you create a dedicated space to signal to your brain that it’s time to get to work.
Don’t have enough space for a new desk? Simply turn your dining table into an office. In the morning, set up everything you need for work, such as your your laptop, papers, notepads, etc. on a specific area of your table. At the end of the work day, it’s important to turn your table back into a dining room however, so the boundaries between work and leisure don’t disappear.
4. Make a to-do list
Creating a to-do list every morning will help you set intentions and goals for the day, and thus improve your productivity. Prioritizing your tasks in this way will also help you better manage your time, which is particularly difficult during the transition from working from the office to working at home.
You can also write your to-do list the night before, so as not to cut into morning work time.
5. Take breaks
Small breaks throughout the day as well as a more substantial lunch break will ultimately increase your concentration. Use the time for something that benefits your mind or body, such as taking a walk outside, doing a small workout inside or meditating. Do things that you genuinely enjoy doing and that are a clear change from your work.
It’s important to set specific times for your breaks during your daily schedule. This will make your working time more productive and ensure you take the breaks, instead of working through them.
6. Eat a healthy diet
There’s a huge temptation to mindlessly graze on snacks while working from home, especially in the midst of a crisis like the coronavirus. However it’s more important than ever during this time to eat and drink as healthfully as possible. Maintaining a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water will help support productivity and strong mental health.
A good way to keep your diet healthy is to keep unhealthy foods out of sight, and instead surround yourself with foods like fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and plant and animal proteins.
Another great way to keep yourself from resorting to chips, chocolate and the like, is prepare healthy home office snacks instead. We suggest carrot and cucumber sticks with hummus, or protein-packed coconut-raspberry energy balls.
7. Prepare your own delicious and healthy lunch
Why not take advantage of the opportunity offered by working from home to prepare a healthy lunch for yourself that doesn’t take up much time.
For example, chicken-pepper-curry with rice or pasta with tomatoes, leeks and hazelnuts only take 15 minutes each to prepare. Or how about tomato tofu with beans? The dish gives you plenty of power thanks to an extra portion of protein.
8. Keep moving
Chances are your home chair isn’t nearly as ergonomic as the one you have at your office. This makes it all the more important to ensure you’re keeping good posture throughout your work day, and to take small stretching breaks throughout the day to keep your body from stiffening and preventing back and neck issues.
9. Reward yourself
Working from home means less chances for reinforcement from your coworkers or bosses about the good work you’re doing. So why not reward yourself? Whether you do this with a little nap, a good coffee, by baking your favourite cake or with a quick Skype with a favorite friend or colleague, allowing yourself little rewards throughout the day is a great way keep your spirits and productivity up.
10. Don’t multitask- monotask!
The majority of us multitask at the office; it’s hard not to! However studies have shown that focusing on one task at a time can actually be much more productive, and it’s much easier to do this at home then in an office setting. Professor Iring Koch, psychologist and multitasking expert at RWTH Aachen University in Germany, explains the phenomenon of multitasking as follows: "Many people believe that they can complete multiple tasks simultaneously, called multitasking. But in fact, when you are multitasking you’re generally switching from one task to another in fractions of a second. Each time you do this, you have to focus your attention on the new task and decide what to do.” As a result, Professor Koch argues that multitasking is only successful when you’re performing actions that come automatically to you, such as making a phone call while walking. therefore only possible if the various actions run as if automatically. An example of this is making a phone call while walking.
The brain works more efficiently and productively when you concentrate on one task at a time, which can be easier when you’re working from home, without many of the distractions of the office.
11. Try your best to minimize distractions
Not every distraction can be prevented or influenced. However, small changes can help minimize the potential for distractions throughout the day. For example, try turning off push notifications for social media and other apps on your phone, as well as non-work related texting threads. Instead set up a dedicated time during one of your daily breaks to catch up for a few minutes on texting and social media.
Keeping your work area and computer as tidy as possible is also a great way to strengthen your focus and keep you from getting distracted. Exit out any unnecessary tabs on your computer, keeping up just the pages you need to complete your work task, and make sure to keep your work area organized and clean.
If you live with other people, it’s also a good idea to communicate your work schedule and desires to them, so they won’t inadvertently distract you.