Just getting started with working from home?
I’ve been working from home as a school psychologist for about a year now. While it was somewhat based on my own desire to begin working from home, it was still an adjustment from going into work all day. With everything going on in the world, and that most of us are not moving to work from home by choice, it can be daunting to make the change. WFH requires you to take control of your own schedule and set boundaries. For those of us who are more extroverted, it can also bring up feelings of loneliness.
As someone who transitioned to WFH from a traditional in-person role within a school system, I’d like to share some tips to make the transition as easy as possible. Also, I would like to highlight the importance of self-care, especially during these stressful and uncertain times.
1. Create a workspace: When I worked in schools, I had 2 offices: one the size of a closet and one larger office in the lower level of the school with loud pipes running though, frequent flooding, and no windows (even on the door!). I had a student once tell me “wow, this office is like bowels of the school.” That pretty much sums it up, and I always felt tired and sad when I left that school for the day. At home, I have much more flexibility. I situated my desk near a window so I could have lots of sunlight, added some potted plants and flowers, and often have a diffuser with essential oils going. You don’t need much or to spend tons of money to create a tiny space that promotes focus and calm.
2. Stick to a schedule: This one was hard for me! I just like to get things done so I don’t have to think about them. It took trial and error to come up with a schedule that worked for me and my family. I stick to the hours I should be working and most importantly set boundaries! I work with many clients on the west coast, meaning that they might send emails when it is pretty late here on the east coast. At first, I was responding to emails until about 10pm each night, but that was draining. Now, I turn off my computer and log out of my email accounts on my phone around 7pm each evening. This is so easy with the Gmail app if you have multiple accounts! I know that I can respond first thing in the morning and the receiving end will have a response by the time they check their email the next day.
3. Create a new routine: something I love about WFH is that it's much easier to work with my energy levels. I tend to have the most physical energy around 10-11 am, and as much as possible I try to schedule a break in my work at that time to do a quick workout or go for a jog. I know I am able to be most creative in the mornings, so I save blog work for that time, and see clients in the afternoons and evenings. Find what works for you and see where you have flexibility in your day now that you’re not tied to a desk in an office.
4. Take breaks! I mentioned my mid-morning workout, but I also make sure to take quick breaks to go outside (I barely ever did this when I worked in schools!) a few times a day because I know that sunlight and fresh air significantly improve my mood. Sometimes I meditate, take the time to cut up some carrots for a snack, or just stretch. The beauty of Zoom and phone meetings is that you can turn off your camera and stand up, do a few stretches, while still being present and without being a distraction. You can even take calls while walking or outdoors!
5. Stay hydrated and nourished: I mentioned that sometimes I fix myself a fresh and healthy snack during the day. This could never happen on the fly when I was working in the office, I would need to have to prepare the snack in the morning, and if I didn’t wake up in time (which happened often due to significant sleep problems) I would just grab some chips or other packaged items. Having the fridge so close has been so helpful in eating fresh and healthy meals and snacks more often (not to mention there isn’t a staff room filled with baked goods, or a conference table with a bowl of M&Ms that admittedly, became my lunch more than once during heavy meeting days at school). I now have access to my water pitcher to fill up my glass regularly instead of having to bring many water bottles with me because there was never a reliable way to fill up at school.
Do you have any tips for self-care while working from home that has made your days a little better? I’d love to hear from you! Share in the comments or tag me on instagram @christinalyncoaching!