Just because a work-from-home routine isn’t bad, doesn’t mean it can’t be better. In this article, the author identifies three reasons you might want to make a change: 1) You’re bored with the same old, same old. If you find yourself stagnating in WFH and affecting your motivation and productivity, it’s time to turn things around. 2) There has been a shift in your household routine. Maybe your husband is back in the office, or your kids have changed schools, so the pickup and delivery times are different. These changes in your environment are important and mean that you need to think carefully about all parts of your day. 3) You want to establish healthy habits. For some, switching to working from home has increased their self-care because they’ve reallocated their commute time to enjoy more sleep in the morning or to take some evening walks. But for others, not going to the office had a negative impact on their health habits. If this sounds a little like you, try adjusting your schedule to better support your health needs. Small tweaks to your routine can make a huge impact and can give you a fresh approach to the new year.
We’re close to three years since The Office’s initial exit, with millions of people finding themselves home for the night. The initial shock of that transition has worn off. So if you’ve been involved in an office trip, chances are you’ve settled into some semblance of a routine.
But is it time for a change? As a time management coach, I’ve helped clients all over the world go from the office to home and back again. What I’ve seen is that a few small tweaks to your schedule can have a huge impact and can give you a fresh approach to the new year.
Here are some of the reasons you might want to change things up — and how to make those changes effectively.
The first reason: you are bored with the same age.
One of the reasons you may need to change your work from home schedule is that nothing has changed at all in the past two years, and the monotony is getting to you. Instead of really starting work on time, you log in and then snooze some more. You miss social interactions with your co-workers. Every day is like the previous day.
If you find yourself stagnating in WFH and affecting your motivation and productivity, it’s time to turn things around.
One of the most effective ways to do this is through a change of scenery. I’ve seen people go to coffee shops, libraries, or even hang out by the pool if they live in a warmer climate. If you want a true office feel, you can also position yourself in a co-working space. Going out and being around other people can add a little time and distraction. But if it generally helps you feel more energized and motivated, that’s a productivity win.
If it’s not easy to move your work around because you need multiple computer monitors or other special equipment, there are still ways you can bring some variety into your routine. One can be through a virtual co-worker companion. You can ask a co-worker or friend to work with you on a video call. Or you can use a service like FocusMate, which will connect you with someone else in the world who needs to get something done at the same time as you.
Finally, you can add a little spice to your routine by incorporating something new and fresh. For example, if you sign up for ClassPass, you can try out a variety of gyms in your area. Every week can be an opportunity to try something new. Or you can search MeetUp.com for current events in your area. Sometimes, having something to look forward to in the evening hours can make you more focused in the daytime hours. Clients I’ve worked with have also said that being in a place where it’s rude to be on their phone also helps their minds go off.
Reason two: Your household habits have changed.
Another reason to adjust your work-from-home schedule is to take into account the shifts that may occur not for you, but for those around you. For example, maybe your spouse is back at the office so they’re gone most of the day, or your kids have changed schools so pickup and drop-off times are different, or you have a puppy and now you need to fit walks into your schedule.
These changes in your environment are important and mean that you need to think carefully about all parts of your day. For example, should you adjust the start time to a later or earlier time? Do you need to consider carpooling assistance for school or sports? Does your exercise schedule need adjustments?
Acknowledge how changes to your home routine are giving you more or less time, and readjust your expectations accordingly.
Reason #3: You want to establish healthy habits.
For some, switching to working from home has increased their self-care because they’ve reallocated their commute time to enjoy more sleep in the morning or to take some evening walks. But for others not going to the office had a negative impact on their health habits, resulting in no set downtime so they worked later and went to bed later. Others gave up on their exercise routines when they stopped going to the gym at work and never regained momentum. And still others have replaced their office cafeteria salad bar at DoorDash and found that even their elasticated leggings no longer fit.
If this sounds a little like you, it’s time to adjust your schedule to better support your health needs. Some potential solutions include giving yourself stronger start and end times so that you have time in the evening to wind down and fall asleep at a convenient hour. If you want more flexibility over a set schedule but also want clarity on when you’ve “done enough” for the day, another method is to count the work blocks you complete, aiming for eight or nine hour blocks. Once you’re done with your work hours whether it’s 4pm, 6pm, or 8pm, give yourself permission to stop feeling guilty.
To start introverting again into physical movement, you can start small. Some of the people I work with will even start with 10 minutes of exercise a day that they can do from home. Apps like Sworkit can give you short routines and you can find loads of free videos on YouTube. Another strategy is to take short five-minute walks as breaks instead of checking your phone. It takes about the same amount of time and improves your health and focus rather than detracting from it.
Finally, if you’ve been struggling with feeding since working from home, you may need to take time on weekends or weeknights to buy or order groceries. Most grocery stores carry pre-made salads and fast food that are less expensive and often healthier than ready-made meals. You can also pick up apples, bananas, carrots, and other quick and easy snacks to encourage nutritious eating.
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Just because your work from home schedule isn’t bad, doesn’t mean it can’t be better. Use these strategies if you need a new relationship with your remote work schedule in the new year.