Work From Home – Revisited

October 19, 2020
written by:Claire Brandon, M.D.

This week, let’s check back in about working from home. You might be hitting your 7-month mark of working from home and many of us are experiencing burnout from the redundancy of working from home. I’m putting together a few tips on ways to stay refreshed while working from home.

How To Deal With Working From Home

Feeling grateful for working from home.

As a physician, I feel very lucky every day to be able to help my patients. I also feel incredibly grateful that I can do this work from the safety of my home without being in the hospital or having to wear PPE every day to protect myself in the hospital. It’s worth taking a moment when you feel burned out to feel grateful about the benefits and safety of working from home. 

Creating the atmosphere that makes you most efficient. 

  1. Define your workspace. Even if you don’t have a desk, pick one or a few spaces where you’ll plan to do the majority of your work. Define them as places where you’ll be at peak focus for especially tough tasks versus 
  2. Not working in relaxing places. Avoid your bed and couch, where you tend to relax if possible. By avoiding these spaces of relaxation we preserve them as places to wind down, which you especially need when you’re working from home.
  3. Take breaks as you would have at work. Snack break, fresh air break, coffee break. Try to keep up with taking some breaks even if that is just stretching or getting a glass of water. At home we’ve lost some sense of that and it’s worth planning that out between your meetings.

Plan your day accordingly. 

It might feel tough to plan out your day especially when random meetings and calls pop up. However, if you at least try to sketch out your day, by the hour or half hour, you can try to schedule things out in a way that helps you feel that you can keep progressing in your day, even if timing gets a little or a lot off track.

Take advantage of healthier habits. 

Do you remember thinking to yourself, I wish I didn’t have to get take out for lunch/dinner all the time? Maybe you wished you could have coffee from a ceramic mug or focus on finally trying to eat a lower inflammation diet (low/no gluten or dairy).

Now is the time to try this out. Meal planning even if you’re at home is still worthwhile by making things at the start of the week and putting it into containers can save time and make healthy eating a no-brainer. At the same time, planning your workouts remains incredibly important. It might feel that you don’t need to wake up until right before your first meeting of the day, but if you were a morning workout person, try to get back to that, even if it’s at home.

Could you fit in a 20 min workout at lunchtime now that you don’t have the commute back and forth? Pick a health goal and try to focus on it every time you consider not following through. 

Pick a cut-off time.

Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you need to work from home 24/7. Know when your last meeting is and plan something that causes a cut-off time. Maybe you’ve signed up for an online workout class that you’ve prepaid, or you have a facetime or in-person dinner date with a friend.

Having something that forces you to cut off work is incredibly important to continue not just a physical space difference from work at home, but a mental difference so that you can unwind and relax, preparing yourself mentally and emotionally for the next day.

Follow these ideas and create some of your own. We can breathe life back into working from home and make it our conscious choice rather than something we feel relegated to doing for an unknown amount of time longer. 

If, after reading this, you still feel like you need some help coping with working from home, consider reaching out.

Claire Brandon, M.D.

Dr. Brandon is a dual board-certified psychiatrist in both adult psychiatry and consultation-liaison psychiatry (treatment of psychiatric illness in medically ill adults). She completed her residency and fellowship training at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and did a second fellowship in public psychiatry at New York University in New York City

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