In the gig economy, working from home is already the norm for many Americans. But for workers more accustomed to a scheduled 9-5 office job, it can be a challenge to find work-life balance from a home office.
Whether you’re working on a laptop or a home computer, it’s important to create a space that puts you into work mode. It may be obvious that means turning off the TV and finding activities in advance for your kids, but your home likely offers a wealth of distractions you haven’t even thought of.
If you’re among the many Washington residents — and soon possibly the entire nation — in search of normalcy from your new home office, we’ve put together a few resources to help you remain focused and efficient when you’re on the clock.
Start with a Clean House
With both spring and potentially COVID-19 in the air, you’ll want to prioritize your annual spring clean if you haven’t already.
To properly clean and disinfect surfaces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work, or you can make a bleach solution with 5 tablespoons bleach per gallon of water, or an alcohol solution of at least 70 percent alcohol.
Once your household is spic and span, try to keep it that way so cleaning doesn’t turn into a distraction during work hours. In the article 5 spring-cleaning tips for a healthier home, Kaiser Permanente recommends you set a schedule for upkeep so you can limit your tidying to a few minutes a day.
Get Up, Get Ready and Go
It may be tempting to throw on some sweats and grab a cup of coffee before plopping in front of your computer, but maintaining your normal morning routine also triggers a working mindset that can help improve productivity.
That means going to bed and waking up at a reasonable hour, and dressing appropriately for the workday, especially if there’s the potential for videoconferencing.
Be sure to also prepare any snacks or meals in advance so you’re not distracted by your growling stomach throughout the day!
Take a Break
If you’re the kind of person who has a hard time stepping away from your computer, find balance by setting a schedule that includes regular breaks from your desk and especially your screen.
Your eyes will thank you for taking a 20-second break to look at something at least 20 feet away every 20 minutes, also known as the “20-20-20” rule, as described in the VSP Vision Care Inc. article on Computer Vision Syndrome. And if you need help staying on track, of course there’s an app for that: Eye Care 20 20 20.
And when your lunch break rolls around, resist the temptation to continue working and be sure to take a break, maybe even go for a walk if that is an option. Maintaining your health is a priority during these uncertain times, and giving your brain and your body breaks is an important part of your overall health.
Commute Time Now Means You Time
Remember traffic? Now that you have the time back that you used to spend commuting, consider sharing these additional precious moments with your loved ones.
With schools closed for the foreseeable future, this means extra time with your kids while you’re not on the clock to help better manage this new version of work-life balance.
And for loved ones who aren’t in your household, be sure to pick up the phone and check in regularly on them. Premera Blue Cross reminds us that social distancing doesn’t mean mentally isolating, and recommends live video or video chat conversations to keep in touch with friends and family.