Working from home has its benefits. The freedom of wearing no make-up and sweatpants all day has been somewhat exhilarating. But it’s five o’clock already.
You’re working on multiple projects, each with a deadline, and your boss is asking if you have the capacity for more. Meanwhile, the dog barks every time you’re on a Zoom call, the dishes are piling up and the washing machine has gone on the fritz.
According to studies by McKinsey, more than 20% of the workforce are predicted to work remotely three to five days a week.
And while working from home has benefits - like time and money saved on commuting - it can be complex to establish a new set of work-life boundaries.
“The trick is to carry on as effectively and productively as you would if you were working from an office while retaining a calm home balance,” said Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth and a working mom of three. “With all the busyness in our lives, it can easily feel as if you’re just being swept along with the tide.”
Learn how to stay on top of things and gain a healthy perspective on what’s important to you with these strategies from Pandor.
Clear your plate
Being too busy can keep you from being productive. Soon, fear of failing could take over, driving you to try even harder. If this sounds like you, ditch lesser important commitments until you can regain your balance and peace.
“Be militant about what you say yes to, from new work projects to favours friends or family ask,'' advised Pandor. “When you’re at work in the office, clear boundaries exist between tasks, such as organising a team meeting and taking your mom to her doctor’s appointment.
But when you’re working from home, the two worlds blend and you suddenly find yourself talking to your boss while picking up the dog from the vet. It can be tough juggling it all and if your plate is too full, you need to reassess the things you’ve agreed to do.”
Look at where your time is being taken up by day-to-day tasks. Be it answering work emails, making dinner or driving family around, take stock of where your time goes.
We get so used to jumping around from one task to another that we do it on autopilot without thinking whether it can be done more quickly, by someone else or less frequently.
See which tasks can be done more efficiently, like grocery shopping online instead of pushing a trolley around a supermarket. Also, work in chunks - cook and batch freeze meals on the weekend to save time making week night dinners, and check and answer emails twice a day and no more.
When you’re working from home, you can end up spending days on end within your four walls. Try to regularly step away from your normal routine and do something different.
It’s best to leave home if you can for this, go for a coffee or even just a walk, so that your mind can switch off from all obligations. New experiences have a powerful and refreshing effect, helping your brain to think along new lines.
Take a break every hour
We tend to lose concentration if we work long durations, so break every hour of your work day to keep your brain functioning optimally.
Sitting in the same position for hours isn't good for your body either, so use your break time to stand up and move around to improve circulation.
Your eyes need mini-breaks too. Staring at a screen causes us to blink less often, so while you’re working, make it a habit to, every 15 minutes, look away from your screen at something that is in the distance.
Also, try blinking rapidly for a few seconds to refresh the eye surface.
Tune out of tech and tune into you
Some form of technology is with us every second of the day, making us feel we need to respond to every new email or Facebook post from a friend.
An international team of researchers has found spending hours online affects our memory processes which, some experts believe, is the reason why it feels as if time vanishes so quickly when we’re scrolling through our social media feeds.
Take a break from tech and give yourself a mental switch-off by reconnecting with your senses. A short walk out in nature is a brilliant way to do this - by simply focusing on the sky, the weather and your breathing you’ll allow your brain to switch off and enjoy the present moment.