Work From Home Happiness Project - planning your day the night before and other ideas.
Well by now everyone who has a job is working from home and getting used to the odd dynamics of having family at home, the solitude, the odd silence, the work demands, and the unique pressures it puts on peoples emotions, anxiety and stress levels. I’d like to organize this post into 3 different sections with the goals of giving everyone a set of things they can do to improve their happiness while working from home and being isolated from others. Also, I’d like to say that I have been working from home for 15 years and have gotten some experience on what works and doesn’t. Planning your day the night before is by far the most useful tip I can offer. This is a simple as taking a page from your notebook and making a list of the things that would be impactful to your day and especially carving out time for yourself that’s either personal enrichment or self care related. Do I do it all the time.. Well, no. I do notice that when I do I have a far more productive and happy day.
First, you need a good space that you can claim as your workspace. For some this is easy and others likely not so much. Keeping your desk clean is important and a daily habit since things will pile up. The second is managing your work flow within your stress tolerances. This means taking breaks and lots of them. I’m averaging a break every 45 min. The third is getting human interaction that is not work oriented.
The first element of putting together a good work space area. Get a spot that only you work within. This can be a desk in the corner of the room if you live in a studio apartment or it could be a standing desk in a office within your house. I recommend that you work to keep it organized and clutter free. Being a junk and hoarder of sorts I have to regularly question why I still have items that don’t use and don’t need. I have 5 cell phones that I haven’t sold, 3 computers I haven’t used, boxes of electronic junk, old momento’s I haven’t looked at etc.. Embarassing and true.
The second element is figuring out how to manage your breaks to get maximum emotional productivity while working. What I mean is that often we get stuck at our computers for too long and especially after zoom calls, customer calls, calls with the boss and coworkers, project work, email reading etc. So if you need help setting regular breaks then set a timer or ask Alexa to do that. If you’re like me you can feel the stress build up. Just walk around your house or apartment for 5 min or so. I notice that I tend to work in 30 min to 1 hr segments with 45 min probably being a standard duration. Also, what I’ve noticed is that it is immensely helpful if you have a productive start to your day by scheduling morning excercise, meditation, reading and family hello’s all before the workday starts. Try to arrange your mornings the night before and get in control of your life. The trick is to just commit to getting to the morning activity and doing the first 5 seconds. If you can just start the activity often you’ll end up finishing. The start is the most important.
The third element is finding fun and creative ways to have interactions with family members that might be involved in other things when you walk out of the office. These days that means watching your kids do virtual school, your partner or spouse working or staying busy around the house. If you can bring your laptop with you then say yes to the mid day family outing and type away as your partner drives the car. I did this recently on a Friday at 2pm.
Often I like to observe the kids and give a quick pat on the back or kiss on the cheek. It doesn’t have to be any kind of substantial interaction.. really just enough to distract me from the intense focus of whatever work item had my attention for the past hour Or less.