More than ever, employees around the world are getting more and more accustomed to working from home. And whether it’s finding a place to work in the home where you won’t be interrupted, or balancing family priorities with work tasks, there’s definitely a learning curve to the process.
How work affects mental health
One aspect of the work-from-home environment that’s discussed less often is its effect on overall mental health. Traditionally, working from an office or place of business allowed employees to mentally separate work from home. Now that living and working are commonly taking place in the same location, the process itself can easily take a toll on one’s mental clarity and health.
It can feel more difficult to separate work from home, compromising one’s work/life balance. Additionally, it can be difficult to remain focused while working from home, when tasks like laundry, vacuuming and cleaning can distract you from your work.
Now more than ever tips for working at home are essential to creating an environment that not only keeps you focused during the work day but prevents burnout and poor boundaries between work and life.
Mental health work-from-home tips
This pillar of a successful work environment was important even before so many individuals began working from home. Today, a work/life balance has never been more important.
No matter what you’re working on, take breaks — even short breaks — during the course of the workday. Taking even five-minute breaks to grab a snack, walk around the neighborhood, visit with family members or say hello to the family pet can help you mentally refocus and gain clarity over the day’s tasks.
Set boundaries around work time and family time
It’s also important that you set concrete boundaries around both family time and work time, given that both your home life and your work life are now sharing the same space. If we don’t take the time to identify where work life and home life start and stop, we’ll end up answering work emails late into the evening, or neglecting work during core business hours.
To set clear boundaries, try identifying a set period of time (8 am–4 pm, 9 am–5 pm, etc.) when your family should consider you “at work.” This doesn’t mean you are entirely unavailable during these hours, but it does mean your attention is mainly dedicated to working during this time.
Along a similar vein, identify “family time.” If you’ve determined that the work day ends at 5 pm, stick to that resolution, close your laptop and return work phone calls the following day. Just as your work deserves your full attention during the time you allotted, so, too, does your family deserve the same intentionality.
Don’t be afraid to discuss these boundaries with loved ones! Get their opinion on your availability, and work together to determine the right schedule to meet the needs of yourself, your work and your family.
Continue with your daily structure
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that your overall schedule has to largely change. Your brain and body alike enjoy several health benefits associated with structure; schedules bring peace of mind and increased productivity, and they’ve never been more important now that you’re working from home.
If you’re accustomed to waking up at a certain time, continue to do that. Wardrobes help put us into a workplace mood; consider adopting a “workplace wardrobe,” similar to the clothing you would wear in the office. Take your lunch break, work out and look to begin and end work at the same times as when you were working in an office.
Hold yourself accountable
In the wake of a work-from-home wave, it’s up to you to keep yourself accountable. Sure, there are countless project management tools that help you keep track of tasks, collaborate seamlessly with colleagues or auto-generate professional reports. Here’s the one thing a project management platform can’t do for you: complete your work.
One tip to help hold yourself accountable and manage your time is to honestly evaluate yourself as a worker. Where do you excel? Which types of tasks do you prioritize, and which tasks do you avoid? Understanding the way you work will not only inform the way you structure your tasks during the day, but it will also allow you to stay on guard against any factors that could compromise your productivity.
Procrastination is a real thing; the first step in avoiding sluggish workplace practices is diagnosing how you work, and why. You’ll do wonders for your mental health if you can regularly achieve the daily tasks you set for yourself at the beginning of the day or the beginning of the week.
Give your mental health the boost you need
There are many benefits of remote work, but with these benefits come new challenges, including the need to set boundaries and keep yourself accountable. Utilizing the proper time management tips, setting a schedule for yourself and evaluating your work style can all help improve the work you do when working from home.
Additionally, guidance during these days spent extensively at home can significantly benefit your mental help. If you’re looking for additional mental health support, contact The Light Program today by visiting our website or giving us a call at 610-644-6464.