Keeping Your Sanity While Working from Home
With the continued outbreak of COVID-19, an unprecedented number of employees are still trying to adjust to a work from home [WFH] model. As you may already know, these changes can create stress related to productivity, health, or even from working in isolation.
Those of you who are new to WFH may have more difficulty dealing with these new challenges. However, there are several things you can do to stay healthy and sane while working remotely.
Creating a Comfortable and Productive Workspace
With an open-ended timeline for WFH, you should spend some time perfecting your workspace. A proper workspace should feature limited distractions, the necessary tools to perform your job effectively, and proper ergonomics to keep you healthy.
On the other hand, a workspace filled with distractions can make WFH a challenge. During the pandemic, it is likely that you’ve had family, kids or pets creating distractions, but you can reduce distractions by setting some ground rules.
Implement office hours, and limit distractions.
First, it can be beneficial to create dedicated office hours. If your hours fluctuate, you can even post a daily schedule, so everyone at home is aware of the times you will be working. Having a personal space dedicated for your office, away from high-traffic areas, can help reduce distracting noise. If this type of isolation isn’t possible for you, consider noise-cancelling headphones.
In addition to external distractions in your home, personal distractions such as web-browsing or phone calls can hinder your productivity. If you find this is an issue, installing an app that restricts screen time or putting your personal devices on “do not disturb” during work hours might lend to a more focused day.
Proper Equipment, Tools and Ergonomics
Having a comfortably equipped office space is essential. For an effective workspace, you need the appropriate furniture, computer equipment and software tools that will allow you succeed. In some cases, your employer may provide equipment that they deem essential for your job functions, like a laptop or other mobile devices. They should also be able to provide some guidance on ergonomics to ensure you aren’t causing damage to your body with improperly configured furniture.
In fact, failing to consider office ergonomics can lead to work-related musculoskeletal disorders, “which are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time, accounting for 33% of all worker injury and illness cases.” So, when arranging your office, consider features that promote healthy posture like a standing desk, a supportive chair, or a wrist pad for your keyboard.
There are numerous online resources available that can assist you with improving the ergonomics of your workspace. At a minimum, make sure your chair, desk and workspace are comfortable and conducive to productivity.
Declutter, Organize and Decorate
You can maintain positive energy and inspiration by keeping your office space tidy and free of clutter. You can also decorate your space with motivational items, mementoes, photos, or even your accomplishments, like degrees and awards. Creating a positive atmosphere is one small step you can take to make WFH more enjoyable.
Another important thing to keep in mind is the background for your virtual meetings. It’s important to maintain a professional presentation, but it can also be a good idea to get creative. An unusual decoration in your background might be a good ice breaker in the right circumstances. Additionally, your choices in décor lets others get a feel for your interests and your personality. And don’t worry, if you don’t have a great background, most meeting software will allow you to use a “virtual background”, like the beach or one of your favorite places.
Maintaining Work-Life Balance
Achieving a successful balance between work and life will look different for everyone, so choose a schedule that works best for you. When developing your work schedule, you should be careful to reserve time for your family, your personal health, rest and recreation.
Many work schedules can be demanding, and working from home can make some employees feel like they should go above and beyond their normal work hours to show their employers that they are productive. While it’s important to do a great job at work, it can be a huge mistake to neglect your personal life, so take care to balance your work schedule with your personal needs.
Prioritizing is Essential
No one knows your work schedule or priorities better than you, so try prioritizing tasks by their importance. Once the pressing tasks are completed, you have the remainder of the day to work on those other items or to catch up in areas that may have fallen behind.
Most importantly, don’t get so caught up in your schedule that you forget about yourself. Be sure to include breaks as you work – take walks, try yoga or a workout during lunch, or just give yourself time to rest. Many people may find that physical activity declines when working from home, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
For example, you could replace your morning and evening commutes with walks or exercise without taking time away from your schedule. And don’t forget, mental breaks are just as important as physical breaks, so be sure to occasionally free your mind from thinking about work to prevent burn-out.
Find Creative Ways to Meet with Others
Another way to maintain a positive work-life balance is to reduce the isolation that accompanies working from home. Being away from the office means you are likely missing out on many opportunities for casual chats with your colleagues.
One way to reduce the isolation is to encourage virtual meetings between your team, just to check-in on non-work issues. These meetings can be brief, but they allow for interactions with people who have historically been a large part of your day-to-day life.
Another way you can stay in contact with your team is to utilize an instant messenger or chat platform like Slack, Microsoft Teams or Google Chat. No matter the method, it’s important to maintain your personal connection with your team while you are away from the office.
Set boundaries with your loved ones.
Possibly the biggest obstacle to overcome while working from home is how to engage with other family members working or learning alongside you. Personal space is important to allow everyone in the home to accomplish their tasks for the day. If you are short on space, you may need to get creative in planning your schedule.
As an example, you might set focused working hours for everyone in the home, so the most important daily tasks can be completed without distractions. Then you can find ways to spend additional time together, possibly through short walks or lunch breaks. Most importantly, consider making rules that will increase the time you can spend with your family and make you more productive. After all, working from home should result in more family time, not less.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Another challenge you might face while working remotely is how to communicate effectively with your colleagues or with your supervisor. There are many ways to creatively improve communication, but the important part is to have a plan that works for your situation.
Get comfortable with virtual meetings.
If WFH has done anything, it has boosted the use of virtual meetings, but if you’re new to virtual meetings, they may seem a little daunting. In some cases, virtual meetings have been the only way we can communicate with our clients here at Brookstone Wealth Management. Although there have been some complications, these meetings have been a blessing for our industry. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to meet some of our clients face-to-face.
The bottom line is you should not fear a virtual meeting, with your boss, your family or even your financial advisor. But you can make the most of these meetings by getting to know your meeting platform, so you can avoid those annoying technology glitches.
Prepare for meetings like you are at the office.
Virtual meetings are different, but don’t let them be intimidating. Prepare for the meeting as you typically would if you were working in the office.
Always test your meeting software ahead of time to be sure you are ready. Get to your meeting a little early, just like you would at the office, and always prepare an agenda. By preparing as if you are in the office, you can minimize the complications that come with virtual meetings.
Contact Brookstone Wealth Management to schedule a meeting.
Because of the pandemic, more companies have learned that a WFH model for some positions can cut costs. As you know, money talks, so WFH could continue to be a large part of our future. As you adjust to this new normal, keep your personal goals in mind, especially your financial plan.
If you are looking for an advisor, or if you aren’t happy with your current situation, give Brookstone Wealth Management a call. We have a process called your Financial Fingerprint™ – a financial plan that is quick to assemble, easy to understand, and simple to modify as circumstances change. After all, we believe it takes more than a return on investment to achieve financial success.
At Brookstone Wealth Management, we offer a complete suite of Wealth Management services, supported by an experienced team of financial and legal professionals. We are happy to meet with you virtually or in person, depending on your situation and preferences, so contact Tami McDonald at Brookstone Wealth Management today.