There are those who thrive from working at home and there are those who need to be out of their own space in a different work environment. Working from home is not for everyone. Personally, I love it! And I have been doing it for over 18 years so I’m kind of used to it. It takes discipline and time management to work from home healthfully and effectively. Without proper discipline and practices in place, it can easily take its toll on one’s mental and physical health.
My work environment consists of two places; my fitness studio and my office. It is nice to be able to break my day up between office and fitness studio however it is important that I am disciplined and that I establish essential habits to keep my day productive and flowing.
If you are struggling with working from home, or would like to work remotely, these are a few things to keep in mind to enhance your work-at-home success.
GET FRESH AIR
Getting outside and breathing in fresh air in nature will improve your productivity AND doing so first thing in the morning before you start work will ensure that you will not spend all day in your pyjamas!
Sun exposure is very important for our physical health and mental wellbeing. Exposing ourselves to sunlight early in the day as possible helps to regulate our circadian rhythm, which can lead to better sleep. If you can’t get outside first thing in the morning try to get outside for a bit as soon as you’re able to, maybe on your lunch break or mid morning break.
GET DRESSED FOR WORK
There is something to be said for getting dressed, or at least getting out of sweats or yoga pants when it’s time to ‘show up’ for work, even if you’re not actually leaving your home. It can help us feel our best and most confident and also allows us to accept a video-based call from a co-worker or client at any time. I always ensure that I show up to my office and studio looking professional, even if you are not taking video calls. Just as you were preparing yourself to commute to work, enforce the same routine to take time to wake up, shower, get dressed and get to work, even if that means your home office.
MEAL PLAN AND MEAL PREP
When you work from home and the kitchen is nearby or maybe your kitchen is your office, you might think you have tons of time to make yourself a proper lunch or afternoon snack. In my experience, when you are focused on work tasks, the last thing you want to do is break your flow to make lunch or start prepping dinner. What you do want to avoid is ordering takeout last minute, scrounging in the cupboards to figure out what to cook, or having spoonfuls of peanut butter out of the jar for your lunch.
Ensure you stay fuelled with nutrient dense foods by creating a meal plan for the week and then meal prepping so meals and snacks are either ready to go, need minimal assembly, or only require quick heating.
SET A SPECIFIC SCHEDULE AND LIFE/WORK BOUNDARIES
Working from home doesn’t mean you are permanently on call for house hold chores. It also doesn’t mean that during work hours, you have the freedom to kick back and catch an episode on Netflix. Most offices that permit or encourage work-from-home setups also build in accountability and have an expectation that team members be available just as they would be if they were physically in the office. In the same regard, you should expect your workplace to honour your off-hours as well.
It is important and healthy to set boundaries around work and personal life Set a regular work schedule and try to stick to it as much as you can. You will need to find what works for you, the company you’re supporting, or your own business – your work hours may not be from 9 to 5. The key is to ensure that everyone in your household knows what those hours are so they can support and respect you during those hours.
In my work, the boundaries can blur as I typically do not work a 9 to 5 job. Some days I start at 6:30 am and will work until 7pm however I do create breaks throughout the day. I also make a point of creating boundaries so I can have work/life balance. For instance, I silence the alerts on my phone while working in my office during the day so I can keep focussed on specific tasks and after 7 pm so I’m not interrupted with my ‘off time’.
CREATE AND INVITING WORKSPACE
Set up a space at home where you can work comfortably and efficiently and will support your health rather than detract from it. Some of the elements that contribute to a healthy workspace are:
- A proper desk and chair that ensures good posture
- A clutter free environment
- Good lighting; avoid fluorescent lighting and try to have access to natural light – I also have a Himalayan salt lamp to help boost my mood
- Adjusting your monitor so it’s about 2 feet away from your head
- An essential oil diffuser with good quality essential oils
Not everyone has the space for a complete home office, but you can create a place in your home just for work. I have created a space in my home that is clutter free and inviting. The room is filled with plenty of natural light, calming colours, plants, oil diffuser and yoga mat and block for quick stretches and Pilates workouts.
While you’re working away, don’t forget to drink water! Keeping hydrated supports the liver, joints and kidneys, and helps with digestion, elimination and preventing constipation.
If you have trouble remembering to drink water:
- set a timer on your phone or computer
- fill up a few bottles or one large one in the morning and keep drinking till they’re done
- mix up your water intake with herbal teas, green juices, or coconut water
- if water is too plain you can add fruit for flavour
TAKE EXERCISE OR STRETCH BREAKS
One of the reasons I have my yoga matt in my office is so I can take mini breaks to add in some light stretching or mediation. Whether you work from home or not, it’s beneficial to disrupt your sitting and get a little bit of exercise. This could be as simple as going up and down the stairs a few times, doing some lunges, light stretching, or a walk around the block. The main thing is to get up and get your body moving!
As many of you know I conduct virtual fitness sessions one on one out of the comfort of your home. Many of my clients can easily book a short 30 minute session on a lunch or afternoon break to get in their exercise. It helps to break up the day, decreases stress, boosts immunity, increase energy, improves mood and mental clarity! To apply to train with me -> TRAIN WITH KAREN
If you are able to work from home you are fortunate. Some people are miserable in their jobs. Others have to commute for at least an hour each way in traffic or on transit to make a living. Some people are out of work (or physically unable to work). Some people have lost their business. Try to incorporate a gratitude practice into your day. Either start off the day with gratitude or write down one thing you’re grateful for at the end of the day. Or both!
This is a practice that I have been doing for years and it really helps to see all the good in life!
Integrating these work-from-home health strategies into your routine will help you experience a healthier and happier work life. Once you get in the habit of doing them, you won’t want to stop.