More than ever, employees around the world are getting more and more accustomed to working from home. And whether it’s finding a place to work in the home where you won’t be interrupted, or balancing family priorities with work tasks, there’s definitely a learning curve to the process.
One aspect of the work-from-home environment that’s discussed less often is its effect on overall mental health. Traditionally, working from an office or place of business allowed employees to mentally separate work from home. Now that living and working are commonly taking place in the same location, the process itself can easily take a toll on one’s mental clarity and health.
Our goal is the same as yours: to identify ways to excel both at home and at work, without compromising quality of work or quality of home life. For concrete tips on maximizing work and home output, check out our tips on how to thrive in a work-from-home environment while prioritizing mental health and well-being.
This pillar of a successful work environment was important even before so many individuals began working from home. Today, a work/life balance has never been more important.
No matter what you’re working on, take breaks – even short breaks – during the course of the workday. Taking even five-minute breaks to grab a snack, walk around the neighborhood, visit with family members or say hello to the family pet can help you mentally refocus and gain clarity over the day’s tasks.
Set boundaries around work time and family time
It’s also important that you set concrete boundaries around both family time and work time, given that both your home life and your work life are now sharing the same space. If we don’t take the time to identify where work life and home life start and stop, we’ll end up answering work emails late into the evening, or neglecting work during core business hours.
To set clear boundaries around your work time and your family time, try identifying a set period of time (not necessarily 9am to 5pm, but perhaps a similar hours range), when your family should consider you “at work.” That doesn’t mean you are entirely unavailable during that period of time; it will mean, however, that those hours should be primarily reserved to fulfill job duties.
Along a similar vein, take the extra step to identify “family time.” This time range doesn’t mean you’re forbidden from taking a work call or responding to an email; it does mean, however, that family takes priority during this time.
Don’t be afraid to discuss both family time and work time with friends and family members! Get their opinion on your availability, and work together with loved ones to determine the right schedule not only for you, but for all members of the family, to outline an appropriate ratio between work time and family time.
Continue with your daily structure
Just because you’re now working from home doesn’t mean that your overall schedule has to largely change. Your brain and body alike enjoy several health benefits associated with structure and a schedule, through an organized day optimized for efficiency. Schedules bring peace of mind and increase productivity, and they’ve never been more important now that you’re working from home.
If you’re accustomed to waking up at a certain time, make sure you continue to do that. Wardrobes help put us into a workplace mood; consider adopting a “workplace wardrobe,” similar to the clothing you would wear in-office. Take your lunch break at the same time if possible, work out at the same time during your day, and look to begin and end work when you normally would.
One more tip: before the pandemic forced so many of us to adopt work-from-home routines, we were accustomed to face-to-face communication. When communicating with clients, employers or peers, look to preserve as much of that face-to-face time as possible. Whether it’s over Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, Slack or another tool, personal interaction with colleagues is essential to preserving mental health.
Hold yourself accountable
In the wake of a work-from-home wave, it’s up to you to keep yourself accountable. Sure, there are countless project management tools that help you keep track of tasks, collaborate seamlessly with colleagues or auto-generate professional reports. Here’s the one thing a project management platform can’t do for you: complete your work.
Take the time to honestly evaluate yourself as a worker. Where do you excel? Which types of tasks do you prioritize, and which tasks do you avoid? Understanding the way you work will not only inform the way you structure your tasks during the day, it will also allow you to stay on guard against any factors that could compromise your productivity. Procrastination is a real thing; the first step in avoiding sluggish workplace practices is diagnosing how you work, and why.
You’ll do wonders for your mental health if you can regularly achieve the daily tasks you set for yourself at the beginning of the day, or the beginning of the week.
Give your mental health the boost you need
Holding yourself accountable for your productivity, taking breaks during the day and setting boundaries between work time and family time can go a long way toward promoting strong mental health. Another way to maintain strong mental health is by taking the time for licensed, professional counseling. Outpatient mental health treatment from The Light Program promotes hope and healing for individuals struggling with behavioral and mental health issues. Get the help you know you need today, and schedule your first appointment with a therapist at The Light Program to help address anxiety, stress, depression, trauma, self-harm and more.