I had a patient come in to the clinic a few weeks ago, and we started discussing about the challenges with maintaining a work/life balance while working from home. She mentioned how her work has taken over her home, with boxes of files now accenting her furniture. Her work area transitions between the dining table, living room, to even her bed!
Working from home has become the new norm during the pandemic, with many people utilizing their private homes as their new office. With technology being ever more portable, the office has now taken over the entire home. The areas of the home that were once reserved for family meals, movie-nights, or play-time with the kids, have now been turned into the boardroom, the computer desk, and the new office water-cooler.
This new setup has made the possibility of escaping work much more difficult. It was challenging enough having phones that were connected to our workplace. Now the office has nestled itself into every corner of our home. It’s no wonder that patients are reporting higher rates of anxiety and sleepless nights. Their place for refuge has now been turned into an always-on, stress-inducing workspace.
If working from home is to become prevalent in the post-pandemic world, it is more important than ever to help manage the new office. Most home-offices were established in a haste last March, as people needed to find a way to bring the office home. One year on, we still have patients working from home from their dining table, or using their bed as their new desk. I have had patients sit across their refrigerator all day while working from home, adding to their pandemic weight gain. It’s been a challenge, however with these few tips, hopefully you can create a barrier between your office and your home, which can help restore the work/life balance.
1 Dedicate The Right Space: This one should not be a surprise, you need to allocate a space within your home that will be your new office. This space does not need to be large, and can be temporary (a fold-away desk can convert any space into a temporary office). Ideally this space should be in a separate room, with a window and ample natural light. If natural light is not available, add lighting to help brighten up the space
2 Isolate This New Space: If you have a separate room, then isolating your new office space can be as easy as closing a door. If however you are sharing this space, consider a room partition. A room-devider is a great way to help you focus on your task at hand, but it can also help hide your workspace at the end of your workday. A room-divider can also help control sound.
3 Organize: Good organization can help your work-space feel more efficient and can help cut down on clutter. Studies show that workers are more productive in an organized workspace with less clutter and distractions. Try to keep files, loose papers and documents neatly organized in a file folder. Organize at the end of your workday to help get a head-start the next day. Consider cabinets with doors to stow away books and binders. This will give the office a clean and minimalist look.
4 Make It Welcoming: Adding soothing decor such as a plant or a picture of a vacation spot you visited before the pandemic, can be a great way to help make your space feel more inviting and relaxing. Keep the decor simple but minimal so that it does not overwhelm your work space.
5 Get A Good Chair: I am a big proponent of standing desks, however you will need to sit down every now and then, especially on days when you need to sit through endless zoom meetings. Having a good, comfortable, ergonomic chair is important. There are three items in life I believe one should invest well in: good shoes, a good mattress and a good office chair. You will probably spend 80% of your day in one of these three items, make sure you select a good chair that is comfortable and ergonomically efficient.
6 Noise-Cancellation Headphones: If you have children at home, this is a must-have. Noise-cancelling headphones can help cut out background noise, and can help you focus on your task. If background music is not your thing, invest in good ear-plugs to keep you on track. Sound machines can also help with managing back-ground noise, but it may also cause you to fall asleep at your desk!
At the end of the work-day it is important to unplug, both physically and mentally. Turn off your devices, file away your work, turn off your desk light and turn your phone notifications off. Stepping away from your workspace will signal that you have completed your day, and it is time to focus your attention on the other joyous activities of life. Down-time is important, as it allows your mind to organize the day’s thoughts, helps your recharge, and allows the mind to be free to wonder. This is the time when most mental-breakthroughs occur.
I hope you found these tips helpful. Investing in a better work-space will not only help you be more efficient, it can also help with your health.
If you are feeling stressed or anxious, and need help recharging, our Naturopathic Doctors can help! Call our clinic, or book a free consultation by clicking here.