After doing predominantly telemedicine for 2.5 years, I thought I should share a few things that have been helpful for me. Remote work may persist for many, so I thought it helpful to share the things that have I have learned.
Devise a morning routine
The idea of jumping out of bed and landing at your computer is very tempting. I find it very important to have rituals and routines around getting ready for work. For me, it’s making coffee or tea, showering, getting my daughter and dog ready for the day, and then getting myself dressed for work. I still put on professional clothes as it helps me feel like my professional self for patients. Some of you may not need the professional look, but getting out of pajamas is good to set the tone of the day. A version of your normal morning when you were still commuting is important to prep for the workday. This helps your brain focus and prepare for the workday.
Create a workspace
Not all of us have the luxury of a home office, but creating a designated workspace is immensely helpful. It’s easy to get consumed with home or kid duties if you are sitting amongst your house bills or grocery lists. Carve out a home space that is just for you and has a boundary to it, even if it’s your half of the kitchen table. And remember, beds should only be for sleeping so try to find somewhere else to work, if possible! Make it be a space that is clean, quiet, and allows you to focus.
Schedule your time
In the beginning, establishing a schedule is essential to avoid distraction. I actually put projects/work/research on the calendar and set a timer to do it. I also recommend building lunch breaks in my schedule. You have all heard the saying, “rest and digest”. Don’t work through lunch, and your digestion will thank you! And set an end to your day so you can put work away and be present with your family or spend some time connecting with friends. It’s very easy to let work bleed over into other parts of the day. A schedule helps prevent this!
Pack a lunch
It’s very easy to graze throughout the day while working from home. Packing a lunch is very helpful to prevent this, as well as scheduling a lunch break. It’s much better for our blood sugar to have distinct meals separated by hours, versus grazing on snacks all day. Have something that is easy to prepare, like a salad, or pack up dinners for a leftover lunch in portioned glass storage containers. And remember, no working through lunch. Eat lunch outside if the sun is shining!
Make sure to get plenty of water during the day. Remember, for every cup of coffee, you should be drinking 2 glasses of water. This is in addition to your normal water intake. Use a water bottle so that you can track your intake for the day. And, refilling your water is a great reminder to get up and move!
Move that body
Whether you are at home or in the office, movement is always a good idea. Our bodies are not meant to sit for hours on end. Schedule a stretch break once an hour for a few minutes while you refill your water. Take the dog for a walk on your lunch break. If you are on a phone call, get up and pace the room. If you struggle with this, set a timer.
What have you found to keep your work/life balance in check while working from home?