Working from home is a privilege and a blessing. As the gravity of the pandemic intensifies, many, if not all, workplaces that have the option to transition to home-based work are doing so. Though the idea seems thrilling to some, you and I know that’s not always the case.
In fact, WFH—coupled with existential dread—can push us towards lethargy and blur the lines between personal life and work life. If you’re not careful, doing almost all aspects of daily life at home can lead you to resort to unhealthy habits like texting toxic ex-lovers or indulging in one too many unhealthy snacks to distract from the reality at hand. All in all, we run the risk of throwing all of our wellness knowledge out the door if we’re not careful.
But perhaps the most dangerous tendency is to isolate while isolating. Now is not the time to lose touch with friends and co-workers or give up—lean on each other and follow our simple tips to help you excel at your new (quizás temporary) normal:
Firstly, make sure you’re up and about well before you ‘clock in.’ Get up as if you’re going to the office and add an extra hour to that if your office is walking distance. As you settle into the idea of your home and office being one, it will be difficult to stop work on the dot and you may have company at home that will require your attention immediately after you shut the laptop. But, time for yourself isn’t expendable and will be especially important and necessary right now. Waking up before your start time will allow you to take time to meditate, pray, read, drink coffee or tea, eat a healthy breakfast, do whatever makes you feel like your best self and simply sit with yourself so you step into the day in a good mental space. Pencil yourself in, porfa. —Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo, Editor
I’ve been freelancing and working from home for about four years, and I’ve found that the number one thing that boosts my productivity is actually getting dressed in the morning and moving to my desk, as much as I’m tempted to just stay in my pajamas all day. I think you have to trick your brain into work-mode and resist the urge to pull your laptop into your bed, no matter what. I find that when I do fall into that habit and work from bed, it doesn’t just make me sluggish and less alert; it actually disrupts my sleep at night. Suddenly I find myself lying in bed completely unable to fall asleep and wondering if I should just look at a few emails. For me, working elsewhere has been about creating mental boundaries for myself to get stuff done. —Julyssa Lopez, Contributor
If you’ve never had to work from home for an extended period of time, take this one piece of advice for someone who’s been doing it for years: stick to a schedule. Since space won’t be the thing that will set “work” and “leisure” apart (aka, you go somewhere to work, you stay at home to relax) there’s no better way to try and keep that distinction than time. That’s what works for me, though I confess I’m a stickler for structure. It helps that, for years, I’ve lived with someone who’s own work schedule helped structure my own. Breakfast with my husband is always at the same time every morning, I always sit down at my desk roughly at the same time, take scheduled breaks as if I worked at an office that’s keeping track of my time, have lunch at a set time and take my husband arriving home as my cue to wrap up whatever I was working on. There are days, of course, when things change—and I have to imagine having family members (or kids! or pets! or both!) would drastically change this scenario. But what this rigid clock-in/clock-out structure gives me is a way to not let WFH mean “I’m always working when I’m at home.” —Manuel Betancourt, Film Editor
Working from home in pajamas sounds awesome, and that’s mostly true—but it’s also a slippery slope into slothdom. Too many days in a row of rolling out of bed and heading to my desk without getting “properly dressed” can become a little too comfortable. All of a sudden I’m taking frequent, too-long naps, my will to work drops, and I wonder: When did I last shower? (Gross, I know. But this pattern is so real. At any given moment, there has to be at least one million stinky freelancers working from their homes.)
Break up the inevitable lethargy and recharge by getting cute first thing in the morning, a couple times a week at minimum. Looking good feels good for most folks and we’re more likely to get more done when our spirits are up. Plus, since you’re not actually going into the office, you can literally wear whatever you want. Get weird with your fit, try something new, maybe even take some selfies. You’ll boost your mood and probably revive creativity, too. —Jhoni Jackson, Contributor
Working from home may at times influence unhealthy habits like overeating and sleep deprivation. To ensure a great workday and weekly schedule, it’s best to get a good night’s sleep, stay hydrated and most importantly feed your body the essential nutrients it needs to thrive. Your ability to concentrate is at risk if you maintain an improper diet—that’s why brain foods like berries, broccoli, oily fish and nuts are extremely important. Starting your day with green tea—which has a combination of key ingredients like caffeine and L-theanine which improves brain function—makes it a perfect concentration tool. The high omega-3 levels found in oily fish have been proven to increase blood flow in the brain, as well as cognition and thinking abilities. Plus, incorporating salmon, tuna and mackerel can support both short and long-term brain functions. Antioxidant-rich berries like blueberries and strawberries improve new cell connections, raising learning and memory. And if you have a sweet tooth, don’t sweat it! Dark chocolate is found to improve blood flow to the brain and function. —Jennifer Mota, Contributor
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I’ve had a home office/worked from home for two years now and I discovered that putting my favorite YouTube bloggers on autoplay is entertaining, educational and helps me be productive. The best part is that I don’t feel as alone and time goes a lot quicker having them around. I personally recommend Dross or Funny Hair Fails. —Stephany Torres, Graphic Designer
This is important.
Working from home sometimes gets me caught up in video calls, constantly checking messages/emails, editing and producing content and eating next to my computer. Before I know it my butt and legs hurt from sitting all day and my mind feels on overdrive. It’s important to take a break to eat, maybe do some reading away from your desk, laugh whilst looking at TikTok videos, stretch or whatever else gets you away from work for a bit. It will help you be less irritated and keep your mind fresh for the work you actually need to do. —Itzel Alejandra, Art Director
My tip is to do exercise for at least 15 minutes a day—move your body, walk around your place,—anything that avoids sedentarism. I learned this the hard way. A couple of years ago, I had fatty liver because there were some days that I didn’t walk out even to my door and had a bad habit to take meals so late, so I recommend you write a schedule and have alarms for meal times and walks or any other exercise routine. I also find it useful to have plants, that way you build a routine around it—check the water, clean the leaves, cut the dry leaves, etc.
Another bonus tip would be to play podcasts or videos in the background if you’re feeling anxious or isolated. In 2017, I began getting more anxious after the earthquake hit in CDMX and this has helped me to focus on the tasks I’m working on as well as avoid overthinking. Stay in movement and encourage your friends and coworkers to do the same. —Alan Lopez, Creative Director