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How to Cope Better with Working from Home

8th February 2021
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How to Cope Better with Working from Home

 

Let’s face it, working from our PJs may have seemed like fun for the first few weeks and grabbing back time by no commuting was fab…but fast forward 11 months and the cracks are more than beginning to show – for many the cracks are turning into great big ravine and we’re in danger of falling down.

We may have secretly envied those that get to stay at home for this beautiful image of a ‘work-life’ balance, until we got their ourselves, and the reality is that those who find themselves actually doing their work from home report higher levels of stress, according to a 2017 study conducted by the United Nations.

While many people regard working from home as a goal for overall work-life balance, those who find themselves actually doing their work from home report higher levels of stress, according to a 2017 study conducted by the United Nations.

 

So, what is Stressful About Working from Home?

One of the problems? We kind of feel guilty about not feeling ok…surely, working from home should be easier, right? I mean, no more toxic co-working situations, stressful battle through work-hour traffic, the feeling of your boss breathing down your neck, never being alone, etc. So, we feel ashamed that we’re not enjoying it more.  The question is, why aren’t we?

 

Mobile Devices are Stressing Us

A significant part of this stress is due to higher use of mobile devices, which is perhaps unsurprising in light of other research that connects higher levels of stress to the habit of constantly checking one’s phone – also associated with to greater social isolation and even insomnia.

We also struggle with boundaries for these devices, so are more likely to be checking them in the evenings, first thing in the morning before we even have breakfast. Whereas before, we’re more likely to have structured working hours and only check emails during those hours – now the lines are a bit blurry. Which brings me onto my next point:

Lack of Structure 

Feeling a lack of boundaries on when you need to start working (and stop!), when you need to get up and go to sleep, when to log off of social media, and more can feel like true liberation. This feeling, however, can gradually morph into a feeling of being out of control for many who don’t expect it.

Flexible work hours can become too-long work hours as you struggle to fight distractions and get all of your work done, or they can be too-short work hours as others feel entitled to our time because they don’t recognise that they are interrupting “work hours” for us.

Work hours need to be hours and not a succession of interrupted clusters of a few minutes at a time as few of us, if anyone, work as efficiently this way.

Later bedtimes can slip into less healthy sleep schedules. And social media can drain hours of productivity when we know there’s little risk of others coming into our workspace and demanding to know why we’re still on Facebook or Twitter.

For many people, that structure that once felt stifling can feel like scaffolding on which we can structure our lives; It can be difficult to create this same structure if we don’t realize it needs to be self-imposed. It can also be more challenging to function as efficiently without it.

Too Many Distractions 

The problem is that there can be interruptions all day. From the Amazon delivery guy, to the children popping in to ask something, from the cat bringing in a live mouse, a welling meaning neighbour to the bins needing emptying, the fire going out… you name it. It can all disrupt our flow.

Email, television, and the ping and chirp of social media can all throw us off as it may seem simple to indulge in a few minutes but it’s very possible to be distracted for hours by these things. Social media can provide a seemingly endless supply of fodder to focus on. Once we look up, it may be surprising but entirely possible to see that hours have passed with little to no productivity, putting more stress on the rest of the day.

 

Difficulty Setting Boundaries 

Setting boundaries–creating a structure in your relationship and schedule and ensuring that you don’t blur the lines between productivity and leisure time, between socializing time and working time–becomes vital when you work from home. This, however, can be more challenging than many people expect.

Setting boundaries with others, as mentioned, can be difficult when people expect that you should have time to talk when they do. Setting boundaries with yourself can be even more difficult when you are feeling a lack of motivation.

When you work from home so you can take care of your children during the day or in the afternoons, it can be even more challenging as you may feel pulled between competing loyalties and overwhelmed by the responsibilities of your various roles. Again, it can be challenging to set boundaries in these situations, and those boundaries may be constantly challenged.

Social Isolation 

Setting boundaries–creating a structure in your relationship and schedule and ensuring that you don’t blur the lines between productivity and leisure time, between socializing time and working time–becomes vital when you work from home. This, however, can be more challenging than many people expect.

Setting boundaries with others can be so tricky when people expect that you should have time to talk when they do. Setting boundaries with yourself can be even more difficult when you are feeling a lack of motivation.

When you work from home so you can take care of your children during the day or in the afternoons, it can be even more challenging as you may feel pulled between competing loyalties and overwhelmed by the responsibilities of your various roles. Again, it can be challenging to set boundaries in these situations, and those boundaries may be constantly challenged.

Lack of Focus 

While many people who work from home are self-employed, it can be paradoxically difficult to remain true to your personal goals when you have so many distractions and energy hoovers. Maintaining a focus on the future is vital if you have goals for changes you want to make but staying motivated when you are juggling many roles can be a challenge in itself.

If you find your resolve weakening, you can start to lose hope that you will achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself.

One of my favourite tools for staying motivated, fixed on my priorities and working towards my goals is to have my vison board in my office where I can keep seeing it. Click HERE to learn about vision boards and how they can help.

When I find myself wondering off track I remind myself to ask the question “Who is the woman I want to be?” to pull myself back.

Tips for Managing the Stress of Working at Home

1. Set a Schedule 

While it’s wonderfully freeing to set your own schedule, it’s vital that you do set a schedule rather than working when you find the time. If you wait until you feel like working, the distractions will come from all sides and swallow up your time, so setting a schedule and sticking to it is a vital component of working from home for most people. There are several useful tricks for doing so, however, from calendars and apps to detailed to-do lists.

Here are some things to keep in mind when determining when you’ll work:

  • Work when you work best. Many people find that working in the morning when they feel rested can provide a more productive experience than beginning work halfway through the day after cleaning the house  and doing other non-work-related activities. This isn’t true in all cases, so feel free to experiment if this advice doesn’t seem to ring true for you.
  • Prioritize the challenging tasks first. Rather than letting unpleasant or difficult tasks hang over your head and create stress when you think about them, pushing yourself to get the most difficult jobs done first can help you to clear your plate of those less exciting tasks, and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and increased energy and satisfaction throughout the day.
  • Make use of technology. There are apps that can help you to track your social media usage (to help yourself use it less), remind yourself to work when you become distracted for too long, create to-do lists, and more. Learn what’s available and use these tools to your advantage.

  2.  Make a beautiful work space

A dedicated work area has everything you need a signifies to your brain that it’s time to work. Make sure it works for you in terms of a good chair for posture, the right table/desk height, enough electric plugs etc. so you’re not distracted by having to switch thing around.

  1. Don’t forget to take breaks.

  2. Have work clothes

Genuinely, even if these are just comfies, make sure that they specifically for work. When you stay in your pjs that whole imposter syndrome will come and tap you on the shoulder and the days will blur into one a little bit too much. Even if you’re wearing yoga pants on the bottom, try to put something work-ish on the top and wear makeup, perfume, etc. whatever you would do if you were going out to work. Dressing for work helps to set the right mental tone.

  1. Boundaries are Important (see above).

  2. Tread gently with yourself

You’re doing your best sweetheart, it’s just not easy right now. Do what you can, know that this isn’t forever and try and follow these tips to make things a little easier.

  1. Stay connected

Stay in touch with your work colleagues and team. Even if it’s just a ‘hi, how are you today?’ message. This will help make sure that you (and they) don’t feel too isolated. Ask how other people are getting on, and share what you’re doing outside work. A small amount of self-disclosure can go a long way toward building trust and a sense of belonging.

  1. Record achievement

Find ways to make each task more enjoyable and rewarding in itself. Realising the intrinsic value  of your work can bring its own motivation. If tasks really are routine and meh, give yourself “treats” when they’re done. For example, allow yourself your favourite barista coffee for completing an awkward task successfully. Make sure you tick things off your ta-da list when they’re done.

  1. Get focused sweetheart.

Make sure you can get into the flow by minimising distractions – even if you have to put your ear buds in to drown out what’s going on in the house outside of work.

 

If you would like to watch The uncompliKated Show live on Facebook (on twice a week) which is my simple ideas for a beautiful life, just CLICK HERE to be notified when I’m live. Hope to see you there. Kate x

 

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

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