16 Working From Home Tips for Wellbeing
From managing stress and anxiety to staying motivated, here are some working from home wellbeing tips to keep you happy and productive.
Working from home has its perks – there are no long commutes or distracting colleagues. And a warm homemade lunch is just a few steps away.
But it definitely has its challenges as well. Too many hours perched over your laptop can leave you feeling unmotivated, distracted and depressed.
At its worst, working from home can cause weight gain and anxiety. It can leave you feeling isolated and struggling to maintain any kind of work-life balance.
Here are my top working from home wellbeing tips:
1. Set up a dedicated office space
How can you improve your well being working remotely?
Get your gadgets, laptop and everything else you need and arrange it in a dedicated space that is now your “home office.”
Get a sturdy chair and desk where you can work comfortably. Remove any clutter or distractions from the area and keep it bright with a potted plant or framed print. Set up your home office near a window to take advantage of any sunshine.
When your work is spread out haphazardly around the house, it’s hard to maintain focus and keep a boundary between your work and your personal life.
Relegate work to one place and keep the rest of the house for relaxing.
2. Start your day with a ritual
How do you promote well being at home?
Kick off your day with a ritual – whether that’s brewing coffee and splashing on some perfume, or turning the radio on and spreading out your notebooks. This lets your brain know it’s time to start work, and it clearly draws a line between your work time and your personal life.
When there’s no office routines to start your day, a ritual is crucial to give your day structure.
It also makes it easier to switch off in the evenings – your work doesn’t happen haphazardly throughout the day, but it has a clear beginning and end.
3. Use audio and video
Does WhatsApp work better for you than email? Do you find it easier to send a short audio message instead of exchanging emails?
Be open to new ways of communicating with your colleagues. Experiment with digital tools and find systems that you’re comfortable with.
When you’re not chatting with colleagues face-to-face, it’s harder to pick up nuances and body language. Work can quickly disintegrate into a distracting stream of WhatsApp messages that keeps any meaningful progress from getting done.
To keep things running smoothly, opt for voice messages and video meetings whenever possible, especially to clear up misunderstandings.
Schedule regular calls with your colleagues. Keep them short, and be clear about what you’re working on.
4. Stick to a schedule
Astronaut Scott Kelly lived on the International Space Station for nearly a year. He shared his tips for surviving isolation – and his first tip was to follow a schedule:
“On the space station, my time was scheduled tightly, from the moment I woke up to when I went to sleep … You will find maintaining a plan will help you and your family adjust to a different work and home life environment.”
When your day lacks any structure, your mornings and evenings blend together and leave you feeling unmotivated.
To stay motivated at home, start and end your day at a specific time. Create a schedule with blocks of time marked off for priority tasks.
Setting up a routine is one of the best work from home mental health tips you can implement to stay productive.
5. Take regular – and meaningful – breaks
Working from home means fewer distractions. And that often leads to more focused work.
But it also means you’re doing more tiring work that requires real breaks.
It’s easy to immerse yourself in work when you don’t have an office of chatty colleagues. And it’s easy to forget to take a restful pause when there’s no scheduled office coffee breaks.
To stay productive, set specific times to take restful breaks. You’ll feel calmer and more productive when you get back to work.
Here’s how to take restful and refreshing breaks:
- Take 15 minutes to stretch, do yoga if you’re hunched over your laptop, or move around to your favorite playlist. Movement gets your blood flowing and fights stress and anxiety.
- Have a cup of tea and spend a few minutes tending your potted plants. Studies show that merely looking at the color green is calming and relaxing to your mind.
- Read a magazine article or a book chapter to fully take your mind off work. When you get back on task, you’ll have a fresh perspective.
6. Eat a real lunch
Avoid stress snacking and take advantage of having your kitchen near to whip up a salad bowl or smoothie. Take some time to prepare your meal. The process of preparing food will reset your mind when you’re stressed or frustrated.
And if you don’t enjoy time in the kitchen, then prep your lunches and have some staples ready to go.
Eat lunch with your partner if they also work from home, and use that time to reconnect.
7. Set clear boundaries
Make your work hours clear to your friends and family so there’s no interruptions when you’re working. They shouldn’t be walking into your home office or trying to get your attention if your boundaries are clear.
Agree with your family that you shouldn’t be interrupted during certain hours unless there’s an emergency.
Use your breaks to check in with family, but make it clear that your work hours should be respected.
8. Evaluate your progress
Check in with yourself regularly and evaluate what’s going well and what isn’t working.
Are your 9-5 working hours realistic when your children are home, or do early mornings work better? Is your boss worried about an upcoming deadline, and how can communication be streamlined to keep them up to date?
When you’re not in an office, you have fewer meetings and evaluations to get regular feedback.
So it’s crucial to be realistic and honest about what isn’t working.
9. Shut down in the evenings
Once your workday is done, shut down your computer and leave your work behind you.
It’s not always easy with smartphones, chat groups and bosses that expect you on call 24/7. But it’s especially important to disconnect when you’re working from home, because you don’t have that transition from an office building to your home to give yourself distance.
The only way to get that distance is to clearly mark off your evenings as time for yourself.
An end-of-day ritual helps you separate your work day from your evening. This can be as simple as shutting down your laptop, clearing your desktop clutter and brewing a cup of tea. Or having coffee on the balcony and listening to a podcast.
But whatever our end-of-day ritual, it should send a clear signal to your brain that work is over. And it should provide your mind with a new activity so it’s not left stewing about work.
Take an hour to rest after work. Then do some self-care that invigorates and inspires you. Meditate, do some yoga, or listen to a good audio book.
Give your mind a fresh activity, and you’ll return to work more productive.
10. Fight isolation
Working from home cuts you off from everyone you’d normally meet at the office. There are no more lunch breaks, drinks after work or chats over coffee.
You’re also cut off from others working in your field – and you can’t easily network or share the experiences that propel your career forward.
Be aware of this loss and make a conscious effort to fight isolation. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut where your days and weekends blend together. Being constantly home leaves you feeling stagnant.
To stay motivated, meet with friends, join a book club or take yourself for a walk.
Keep up with trends in your industry and join online conferences, listen to podcasts and sign up for newsletters. This lets you network and be part of a community.
11. Get some fresh air
Pack some sunshine and fresh air into your day – even if that’s just a coffee on your balcony.
You’re not commuting to an office or running errands after work. And that means it’s easy to spend all your daylight hours indoors, loosing track of time.
Schedule in regular breaks without feeling guilty about taking time for yourself. Breaks for sunshine and fresh air get your blood flowing, give you some Vitamin D and leave you more energised.
The benefits of fresh air:
- fresh air and sunshine help fight off depression
- eases muscle aches and cramps
- improves your mood
- gives you a greater sense of vitality
- makes you more resilient to physical illness
- eliminates boredom
12. Keep your household work separate
It’s tempting to throw in a load of laundry during your coffee break, but beware: one chore quickly turns into a few. And then you’re working into the evening to catch up, the line between your work and your life hopelessly blurred.
So stay focused and ignore the floor that needs sweeping.
Don’t use household tasks to distract yourself – recognise that you’re likely procrastinating and using busywork to distract yourself.
Then take a real break. Get some fresh air, stretch our your legs, read a magazine or do something else to refresh yourself.
13. Time block your tasks
There’s no supervisor looking over your shoulder and no office rhythm to keep you on track.
You must be your own boss and keep yourself motivated.
And that should start with your daily schedule.
Instead of a long to-do list that just keeps gets longer, create blocks of time (of an hour or two each) that are dedicated to specific tasks.
Instead of checking your inbox distractedly every 20 minutes, designate an hour in the morning and evening to reply to messages. Extract any tasks from your emails onto a to-do list, and then schedule those tasks into blocks of time on your calendar.
A work day ruled by a haphazard to-do list and constant emails leaves you very busy but unproductive.
Instead, identify your priorities and break down your bigger projects into individual tasks. Then schedule those tasks into your day and treat that commitment as seriously as you would a meeting.
If you’re overwhelmed and have too much going on, then reevaluate your priorities. What can be done later, what can be delegated, and what can be crossed off your list entirely? Learn from your experience and say “no” more often in the future.
14. Take it easy on yourself
If working from home isn’t the cozy fantasy you’d imagined, then don’t be too hard on yourself.
It’s OK to feel lonely and frustrated without the structure of an office. Give yourself time to adjust if you haven’t done this before.
And realise there will be good and bad days. There will be times you’re racing through work, and times when you struggle with the bare minimum.
This is normal, especially when you’re dealing with other challenges or juggling work and family.
15. Make your work day pleasant
Listen to some music to lift your spirits. Spotify has some great playlists designed for calm or productivity. Turn the TV on mute to run in the background on a nature or music channel.
Spritz on a citrus scent to energise yourself in the morning. Keep a potted plant, a bowl of fresh fruit or a beautiful print on your desk. Take your work outside when the weather is nice, or spend an afternoon working at a cafe.
Bring in some daily pleasures to make work pleasant and interesting.
16. Reward yourself on the weekends
The weekends don’t always feel special when you’re working from home. At worst, your life revolves around your laptop and your TV.
Make your weekends worth looking forward to with some quality leisure that leaves you refreshed.
There’s nothing wrong with sinking into your couch and doing nothing. But when your entire weekend turns into TV series marathons, then Mondays will be even more exhausting.
Because “doing nothing” isn’t really the best way to relax. Mindless entertainment every night leaves you drained. And an endless cycle of work-TV-sleep-repeat leads to burnout.
Get some quality leisure into your weekends to make you feel energised. Read a stimulating book, go for a long walk off your usual path, or try watercolour painting, gardening or baking. Do something new and your weekends will feel special once again.
Read What is Slow Work? for more working from home wellbeing tips.
Working from home can be effective if you are disciplined. You are mostly your own boss and only you are responsible for your productivity, no one will make your work except yourself.
It took me several months to set up a remote work regime for myself. And now I don’t want to go back to the office at all after that experience.
Your tips are very effective. Remote work is still a job with responsibility and workload. It’s very important for discipline to have a separate workspace and follow your schedule, balancing work and daily activities.
Great article, thank you.