As more and more of the world’s workers adopt working from home, there are plenty of things we’re beginning to notice. While working from home may have once seemed like a pretty easygoing way to do your job, it isn’t without its surprising pitfalls that many of us probably hadn’t thought about until now.
One of these is that working from home can actually be pretty stressful – maybe even more stressful than life at the office!
There are a few different reasons why working from home can be a more stressful experience than you might have thought, but there are also ways you can combat this.
Here, we’ll take a look at some suggestions for combating work-from-home stress, to help with keeping your productivity high and your frustrations low.
Keep a Clear Line between Free Time and Work Time
One of the reasons that working from home can be particularly stressful is that it can be difficult to keep a clear divide between work and home.
Maybe you’ve got jobs/chores that you need to do around the house, maybe your kids or pets can’t work out why you’re at home all day and can’t play with them… It can definitely be difficult to maintain a clear working environment within your own home.
It’s important to keep in mind that your working hours are your working hours and that letting that line blur during the day is going to harm your productivity. If your working hours are up to you, try to keep to the same hours each day – anything else you need to do around the house must be done outside of those hours. Make a separate to-do list of things that you have to do before or afterwards, and try to keep them from your mind while you’ve got work tasks to do.
Remember that even though they might only take a few minutes and you don’t particularly want to do them after work, you wouldn’t be able to ditch the office to run your errands. You’re not being lazy, you’re just busy!
Get Into a Good Working Routine
Whether you choose your own hours or work to set hours each day, get yourself into a clear and consistent routine every working day.
Try to wake up at the same time each morning and get some exercise in if you can – exercise is good for stress and might allow you to get out of the house for a while. It’s also surprisingly important to change out of your more ‘lazy/lounging” clothing and into something more formal (yet still comfortable), as this signals a shift in our brains from ‘home’ mode to ‘work’ mode.
Be sure to eat breakfast every day, and to give yourself a decent length of time for your lunch and other breaks – and definitely don’t eat at your desk!
Finally, once your working day is done, let it be finished. Don’t be tempted to go back to your desk to respond to emails or to get another task done. You need to give yourself time to unwind just as much as you would if you worked in a traditional office environment.
Choose Your Desk Wisely
When deciding where to place yourself during your working hours, make sure you’re picking the best spot for you.
First of all, try to choose an area of your house that isn’t particularly noisy or often used by other people in your household, as the distractions will make it very difficult to stay focused during the day.
This is also the main reason why you should avoid working in your bedroom or living room if you can. Working in an area that you most commonly relate to relaxing has a good chance of harming your productivity, which is just going to lead to even more stress.
Not all of us are lucky enough to have a dedicated home office, but there should be at least one space in your home where you can find the peace and quiet to get things done without too many distractions.
Keep Your Phone Out of Sight and Out of Mind
While it’s good to be reachable by those important to you, getting constant notifications and messages is going to get distracting pretty fast.
The best thing that you can do for yourself, for your productivity and to keep stress at bay is to put your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ and leave it somewhere that you’re not going to be tempted to look at it constantly. After all, you’re going to struggle to focus on your work if you have messages coming in from all over the place, talking about all sorts of different things.
Try to only let yourself go on your phone for certain short windows of time during your working day – including limiting your screen time during your breaks. When we’re spending all day in front of a computer screen for work reasons, the worst thing we can do for our eyes – and probably our brains – is to just swap one screen for another on our lunch hour.
Don’t be a Stranger
Whilst working from home has its many benefits, it certainly has a few downfalls too. One of the main ones is the lack of social interaction.
Whilst working in an office can be stressful, it’s definitely nice to have colleagues and associates to chat to in your free moments, whether it’s to let off work-related steam or simply talk about something outside of your job during the day for a change.
We underestimate just how important these interactions can be for keeping us calm and collected during a stressful day, so make time to have quick phone calls or meetup chats with friends, family or work associates whenever you can.
Overall, working from home can be a great experience and can be much more flexible and free than working in a traditional office environment. It’s just about knowing how to do it in the best way, to stay sane and stress free!