7 Steps to Stay Mentally Well and Organized While You Work from Home
Are you new to the work-from-home (WFH) life? If you are, you probably feel like a fish out of water sometimes. As much as you might have disliked your commute, reporting to the office imposes organization through external means. Now that you must play a more decisive role in managing your workflow, you might feel lost. Have no fear. Take the following seven steps to ease your stress load and get organized so you can feel cool, calm and collected.
1. Create Your Space
Virginia Woolf once wrote that a woman needs a room of her own to write. You might not have space for a dedicated home office in a studio apartment, but you must define an area for work. A folding room divider can provide the illusion of privacy and separation — it gives you the illusion of “punching in” when you enter.
Once you pick out a spot, you should stock it with the tools you’ll need. At a minimum, you’ll require high-speed internet and phone service, although VoIP or your cell will do for the latter. If you work with personally identifiable information, invest in a locking cabinet to secure files.
2. Organize Like a Pro
Do you leave paperwork scattered? Are there heaps on the kitchen table, a pile on your nightstand and mounds on your desk? Such disorganization wastes countless minutes searching for what you need. Plus, you frazzle your brain with stress and frustration.
Document chaos happens when you store your documents and important work materials in too many different locations, and all that chaos can wreak havoc on your mind. Disorganization has been proven to make people feel more stressed. Keep all files and paperwork in your office and organize them. You can find tons of adorable and practical organizers — consider the nominal expenditure an investment in your productivity.
3. Write a Weekly Schedule
You’ve probably heard the saying, “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” When you work in a traditional setting, your routine involves punching in, grabbing coffee and getting down to business. Approximately 40% of your daily actions result from habits, and you might unintentionally waste time while you figure out what to do first.
Take the mystery out of each day. Spend five to 10 minutes after each shift writing a schedule for the coming workday, prioritizing your most challenging task. You’ll jump right in the following day and relieve considerable mental stress.
4. Pencil in Breaks
The Pomodoro Method got its name from the tomato-shaped timer Francesco Cirillo used as a student for time management. In this method, you set a timer for 25 minutes, during which you work uninterrupted. Then, you take a five-minute break before starting the next step. After four pomodoros, you give yourself an extended rest of 15 to 30 minutes. This technique helps you take advantage of your body’s natural rhythms to make the most of your time.
5. Upgrade Your Communication Skills
When you work from home, you can’t politely tap on your supervisor’s door when you have a quick question. Conversely, they can’t see the smoke pouring out of your ears while you think. While many companies employ keystroke technology to measure computer usage, these devices don’t reflect how you keep your mind on-task while standing up to stretch your aching back.
The only way to know your expectations and meet them is by upgrading your communication skills. Get in the habit of touching base with your supervisor. Ask them how you’re doing, outline your goals and inquire if there’s anything they would like you to improve. Check-in with your colleagues and exchange pleasantries on software like Slack that your organization uses.
6. Go Ergonomic
If you aren’t comfortable, you won’t work at your productive best. If sitting for long periods causes a backache, explore whether your chair could be to blame. You can also experiment with variable-height desks — some users say they help ease back pain. Sitting on an inflatable fitness ball is another option. Doing so engages and strengthens your core muscles for improved spinal support.
7. Eliminate Distractions
Do your kids and spouse mistake your work-from-home life as a permanent vacation? If so, it’s time to discuss your responsibilities with them and what they can do to support you. However, single folks don’t get a pass when it comes to distractions. Resist the urge to work in front of your TV and lock your cellphone in a drawer if alerts are to you what a bell was to Pavlov’s dog.
Stay Mentally Well and Organized in Your WFH Office
Transitioning to a WFH lifestyle can increase your stress levels until you streamline your system. Once you incorporate a few simple organization tips like the ones above, you should see your stress decrease.
Staying mentally well while working from home can be hard. If you need some help to stay motivated, or need coaching for your next steps, explore a coach near you!
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