The world is in chaos right now and your mindset may be taking a hit as a result. It can be difficult to focus with all that’s going on with the COVID-19 pandemic, so that’s why I want to share some tips for how to improve your mindset while you work from home. You want to avoid losing your sanity during this scary time!
Your home life is probably unrecognizable right now. If you have kids, their schools are probably closed and you’re trying to homeschool them. If you’re married, your spouse may be working from home too. Or if you’re normally a very social person, you might be struggling with self-isolation.
It probably feels like you can’t focus on your work and that’s stressing you out even more. I get it!
Now more than ever we need to take care of our mindsets so that we can weather the storm.
Regardless of whether you’re working from home for your employer or you’re your own boss, you can benefit from these tips to help you improve your mindset while working from home.
Keep your routine as much as possible
Keeping a routine during this time is important because it will help us feel like we have control over something.
But when you work from home as opposed to working a regular 9-to-5 job, your routine is probably not going to be the same as it would be in an office.
We tend to operate very differently when we have someone looking over our shoulder all the time versus when we’re in charge of our own time.
And, let’s face it, if you’ve got kids at home, it may feel like they’re the ones in charge. 😉
To help you keep a routine, try to start your work at the same time each day, just like you would at your regular workplace.
If you’ve got kids at home, it may not be possible to work regular hours. Instead, try to fit work in when they’re occupied i.e., before they get up, during screen time or nap time, or after they go to bed.
Now, if you’re your own boss, technically you can work whenever you want, but sticking to a routine is a great way to boost your productivity.
In that case, you don’t have to start work at 9 a.m. if you don’t want to. Choose your hours based on your most productive times, but try to be consistent. This is a good habit to keep up in your work-at-home career!
Here are PA graduate Robin’s thoughts on keeping a routine during a crisis:
Stay in contact with people
One of the biggest difficulties we’re facing at the moment is that we need to self-isolate.
Experienced freelancers might be thinking, “Piece of cake! I hardly ever see people anyway.”
But those of us who are more social or who are used to working outside the home might struggle with this aspect. It can take time to get used to being a one (wo)man show.
Just because you can’t meet up with people, it doesn’t mean you can’t keep in contact with them.
In this day and age, there are innumerable ways to stay in contact. That’s what FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype, etc. are for! Not to mention texting, emailing, calling, carrier pigeon…
Don’t forget the people you’re self-isolating with. Maybe your partner or roommate is also working from home, but you’re working in different rooms. Why not make a point of having lunch together every day so you both get a proper break from work and have some human interaction?
Take regular breaks from work
Just because you work from home, it doesn’t mean you need to rigidly stick to working eight full hours every day.
Let’s be honest. Did you really work eight full hours in your regular day job anyway? Coffee breaks, lunch breaks, bathroom breaks, and water cooler chats add up pretty quickly, you know!
So just like you would in an office or other work situation, make sure you take comfort breaks throughout the day.
Go to the bathroom, fill up your water bottle, do some stretches, read a book for ten minutes… (That last suggestion is at your own risk… who has the willpower to stop reading after ten minutes?!)
Exercise is often cited as a way to maintain a good mindset and look after your mental health. And for good reason — exercise releases endorphins, which trigger positive feelings and reduce stress and overwhelm.
Try to incorporate some exercise into your daily routine. If your government allows it during this pandemic, get outside and go for a walk, but make sure you stay away from other people.
If they are advising you to stay indoors, there are lots of workouts you can do at home. Beth Learn has some simple exercises you can do right at your desk!
Have a morning routine
Back when you had to leave the house for work, you probably didn’t have much time for a morning routine.
It was probably all rush, rush, rush out the door.
Well, now that your commute consists of rolling out of bed, and voila, you’re at work, you can put your old commute time to good use.
Some things you may want to include in your morning routine are taking the time to enjoy your cup of coffee, preparing a healthy breakfast, writing in your journal, keeping a gratitude journal, reading a book, praying, reading some good news (hugely important at the moment!!), etc.
Here’s PA graduate Joann’s tip for staying calm during this crisis:
One great life-changing resource for “making over” your mornings is the book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. This book will show you how to wake up each day with more energy, motivation, and focus to take your life to the next level.
If you’re self-isolating at home with your family, you’re probably starting to find it a bit cramped.
Not many people have enough rooms in their house to create a home office for everyone living there.
So if you can’t designate a whole room for you to work in, try to create a designated area and make sure your family knows that when you’re in this area, they shouldn’t disturb you unless it’s important.
Kids might have a different definition of important than you do, so make sure you’re clear with them on what counts as important.
They have injured themselves in some way = important.
They want to share a funny cat video they saw on YouTube = not important.
You can also create other cues so they know not to interrupt you. This might be something like closing the door when you’re working or letting them know that when your headphones are on, it means do not disturb!
If your spouse is at home too, it might be a good idea to divide up the childcare responsibilities, That way you both get work done and your children’s needs are met.
Set up your space
Once you’ve claimed your workspace, make sure it’s set up so that you can focus on your work.
Here’s what you’ll need to help you focus:
- A quiet area. If you’re finding it noisy, invest in some earplugs or noise-canceling headphones.
- A desk and proper office chair. If you don’t have a proper desk or chair, do you have a laptop tray you can prop your laptop on?
- Good lighting. Natural light is ideal as long as it doesn’t cause a glare on your screen. Use a combination of natural light, overhead lighting, and table lamps to make sure you have enough light to avoid getting headaches.
- A tidy workspace. If your space is a mess, it will distract you. Clear away anything you don’t need.
Here’s PA graduate Aimee’s tip for staying focused during a crisis:
One very important rule: Do not work in your pajamas. I repeat. Do not work in your pajamas.
You’ll feel sluggish and tired all day if you do. Changing into proper clothes will signal to your brain that your workday has begun and the time for lounging around is over.
You don’t need to dress for a business meeting; you can still wear comfy, casual clothes — but not your pajamas. That’s just gross anyway! LOL.
Be kind to yourself
Don’t forget to give yourself some grace. It’s going to be difficult to keep a positive mindset when you’re trying to balance work and home life and trying not to panic.
People who work from home often tend to be harder on themselves when it comes to their productivity. They feel like they should be able to get a whole lot more done without the distractions of coworkers.
But a little distraction is good for you.
Here are PA graduate Mel’s thoughts on giving herself grace during a crisis:
You need to realize that working from home is an adjustment. It can take time to get used to distractions you’re not used to encountering in your workday.
We’re also operating in unusual circumstances at the moment, and it’s perfectly normal to want to keep checking the news. Limiting your time on social media is a wise choice though as checking it constantly will probably just upset you more.
We can’t change what’s going on, but we can change how we react to it. Practice self-care to make sure your anxiety levels are kept in check.
What we’re experiencing right now is downright scary, but taking care of our minds and bodies will help us get through it.
Having the ability to work from home during this crisis is a blessing in more ways than one. In addition to being able to keep money coming into your household and avoiding getting sick, work can be a great distraction from obsessing about the pandemic.
I hope these tips will help you improve your mindset while you work from home.
We’ll get through this, folks! Hang in there!
Looking for a way to earn money from home? Check out my Free Intro to Proofreading workshop to see if proofreading could be a good fit for you!