Working from home – How to create good habits and find balance

March 9th, 2022

Since the beginning of COVID-19, a lot of you had to transition to working from home. Working from home has its positive aspects: more flexibility, more time available, fewer expenses, the possibility to wear more comfortable clothes, the opportunity to work everywhere: in a coffee shop, on your couch or even in your bed, the possibility to take care of children/pet/house chores during the day, etc. 

Even though it sounds good on paper, a lot of home-workers have reported feeling unhealthy and unbalanced since they had to make this transition. 

Tips to implement good habits and create a sense of balance 

Here are some strategies to help:

Boundaries. There are 2 different possible scenarios here: (1) not being able to stop working or (2) having trouble starting and staying focused on work. 

(1)  Although your house is now your workplace, it doesn’t mean you have to be working 24/7. It’s important to have a schedule, with a starting time, at least two breaks, and a finish-time. A short walk before and after your work hours might help your brain transition from your home-life to your work-life and vice-versa. Avoid checking emails once your day is finished, most of the time things can wait until the next morning!

(2)  Working from home can be a challenge as there are so many distractions. Again, having a schedule is helpful. A dedicated space to work, clear from distraction, will also facilitate concentration. Try to avoid your bedroom, especially if you have sleeping issues. If you need to move, plan a short break after completing 1 or 2 tasks. Go get a glass of water, do a short house chore or just to do some movements. 

Getting ready. When no one sees you, it’s tempting to spend the day in your pyjamas, without shaving or doing your hair! Getting dressed and taking care of your physical appearance will make you feel more energized and set you up for a more productive day.

Eating. A lot of people have reported concerns with their weight since the beginning of COVID-19. Working from home can be challenging as the kitchen is so close to you! Snacking can also be a way to avoid some tasks that are less interesting or more difficult. It’s important to be aware of your signals of hunger and satiety. Before getting something to eat, ask yourself: “Am I really hungry right now?” Avoid eating while working. Being present and mindful while eating will help you better notice when you are full. 

Exercise. Now that you are working from home, you might not move as much. Make sure to keep some time in your day to get out of the house and move. A walk at lunchtime, a yoga session between 2 appointments or a jog at the end of the day will energize you while helping to get rid of the tensions accumulated during the day. 

Finding a sense of balance when working from home is not always easy. If you notice that you have developed some bad habits, I recommend targeting 1 or 2 behaviours at the time that you want to improve. Remember that installing a new habit takes determination, time (about 21 days) and a lot of repetition. Be kind and patient with yourself while trying to change.

Ph.D., RCC
Psychological Health & Safety Clinic
Vancouver, V6B 0L1

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