Many of us have now been working from home for over 9 months, since the first lockdown first began back in March 2020. Surveys carried out by Nuffield Health and the Office of National Statistics have shown that this has had a substantial impact on our general well-being. 80% of Brits reported that working from home has negatively impacted their mental health.
Many of us feel increasingly pressurized to respond quickly to work queries since our home became our office. There is no commuting to and from or coffee breaks with colleagues to break up the day. As a result, 30% feel unable to take a break or step away from their workstations. With the next six weeks scheduled in lockdown, it’s more important than ever to look out for our mental health.
So, with that in mind, here is our advice on how to effectively switch off when working from home…
The first step to switching off at the end of a work day is to accept your limits. There simply aren’t enough hours in a day to get everything done; and some of those hours must be dedicated to sleep, rest and recuperation. Whilst it’s admirable to work hard, burning yourself out before the week is up is not useful for anyone. You’re more likely to finish work at an appropriate time if you accept that there are limits to what you can achieve in a day.
We have found one of the best ways to avoid burnout is the 3-goal rule. Set yourself three goals for the day, work-related or personal, and focus on completing just those three goals. This forces you to prioritise your work and create a more manageable to-do list. Then anything else you get done that day is a bonus.
In the words of the wonderful singer-songwriter Eliza Doolittle: pack up your troubles! Re-discover that end-of-the-day excitement by packing away your work things just like you would at school or the office. This doesn’t have to include everything, as I’m sure many of us now have a dedicated workspace. If it’s easier, leave your laptop where it is, but be sure to spend the last five minutes of your day closing any unnecessary tabs. This will help to declutter your laptop as well as your brain. It also ensures you’re not faced with a busy, overwhelming laptop screen the following morning.
We also recommend clearing the space around your laptop or workstation. We know how easy it is to get sloppy with tidying things away when no one but us is seeing our mess. Nevertheless, we encourage you to clear away any crisp packets or stained mugs so you’re ready to start afresh tomorrow. The same goes for actually closing your laptop, shutting your notebook and tidying away any pens. This helps in mentally checking out for the day and reduces the temptation to return to work later in the evening.
(Don’t forget to check out our filing & storage collection – great for keeping things tidy)
Speaking of temptation…try to resist the urge to go on your phone straight after work, either by turning it off or leaving it in another room. Whilst we know it’s tempting to reach for your phone as soon as the work day is over, we encourage you to go for an hour without it. Remember, apps have been designed to harbour our attention and keep us on our phones. It also makes it way too easy to access our work emails or take a quick peek at our team chats. That’s why it is best to avoid such temptations altogether and switch to do not disturb. After all, why waste precious leisure time mind-numbingly scrolling on apps when you’ve been staring at a screen all day anyway?
Instead, use your time straight after work to follow a ritual. This used to be our commute back home – by physically distancing ourselves from work we managed to mentally switch off as well. Now that’s gone, we need a new ritual to let our minds know that it’s time to relax. Luckily for us, we can use our ‘commute’ time and fill it with something a little more fun and serene. This could be running a bath, hopping into the shower, or simply a change of outfit. Just as getting dressed in the morning prepares us for the day ahead, getting undressed in the evening is a great way to transition from work to free time.
We are often quick to judge ourselves on what we haven’t achieved in the day, rather than celebrating what we have achieved. Lockdown is really pushing us to the limits, so we need to make sure we’re being nice to ourselves, especially those of us who live alone. Celebrate the fact that you’ve made it through another day by giving yourself something at the end of it. Preferably something that takes your mind off work and relaxes you for your evening ahead. This could be trying out a new recipe, calling a friend or family member or watching an episode on Netflix. Whatever it is, make sure you’re giving yourself something to look forward to at the end of each day. This will really help separate the spheres of work and leisure which have dangerously overlapped over the last 10 months.