A home office is not a new concept and lucky few were already practicing it now and then, including me. Yet few frustrations were inevitable switching from the office life to the full-time work from home so quickly.
In my case, the time gained on commute was replaced by sleep & Netflix. At the same time, deprived of the unproductive coffee chats, I ended up being more productive. But I also ended up working more. At the end of the day, my brain felt fried leaving me without energy for “after work” activities.
I also kept on peaking at the social networks and all the free activities suddenly available in abundance: online yoga classes, language courses, self-development workshops, and cooking masterclasses. The social networks were buzzing with the ideas to fill in the spare free time, except I had no free time and had to do my job.
After two weeks of the full-time home office, the diagnosis was evident. I was getting trapped in overthinking my work-life balance and building frustration about missing the incredible self-development opportunities.
Below I share my ultimate tips on how to stay sane and productive in the full-time home office yet enjoying some attractive spare time activities.
Tip 1: List all the alluring things that you’d like to do
We all have our desires that start with “If I had time I would…” Time to get clear with yourself and list all the desires. What is it on your list? Learning a new language, trying a complicated cooking recipe, or learning a completely new skill?
The list is unique for everyone and opportunities are plenty. But don’t get overwhelmed! Just dump it all on the paper and clean up some space in your brain.
If you ended up with a very long list, prioritize them. What would you like to start doing or learning right now and what can wait.
Tip 2: Plan your day and book your “non-negotiables”
Now open your agenda or grab a blank piece of paper and sketch the daily timeline. First of all, block the hours that you are supposed to be working for your employer.
Keep as close as possible to your real office hours, even if it’s more than the usual 9-to-5. This will give you an idea of the time you have left for yourself. Also block any other obligations that cannot be delayed.
Next step, book in the “non-negotiables” into your day. What are those? Non-negotiables are the things that make your day brighter on any day. It can be anything from morning meditation, a cup of soy latte or a chapter of the book you are currently reading, a healthy lunch cooked by yourself or an afternoon tea. Options are plenty and deep inside only you know what makes you happy. For me, it’s a quick yoga & meditation session, sometimes as quick as 15 minutes, but makes my day immediately brighter.
Then, book those things into the time left free from work. In the morning, evening or during the lunch break, find some time for the things that make you happy and fulfilled and stick to them. Overestimate the time needed, but never compromise them.
You will hopefully still have some free time in your daily timeline. If you feel there is still space for maneuver, pick few activities from Tip 1 and them to the agenda.
All you have to do now is stick to the plan and make sure to give yourself a rewarding glass of wine at the end of the day for having a productive and balanced day.
And don’t forget, that timelines can change every day, have fun with it! Also, the weekends are work-free days, so you can make yourself happy and fill the day with only “non-negotiables” and all the alluring activities.
Tip 3: Stay active with some easy hacks
A busy day can often result in a passive day behind your desk. One week into the full-time home office I discovered the steps count on my iPhone went from 6.000 steps per day to mere 170. Something had to change!
I decided that each time I get a work call on my phone I would walk around the house. The life hack was a success! I managed to walk 1000 steps during a 30-minute phone conversation.
If you don’t get work calls, no worries. You can still walk during any activity that doesn’t require manual work. Walk while Skyping your family or walk in front of your TV.
Nobody said you should be on the sofa during those activities and even a few steps back and forth count.
Tip 4: Get some fresh air while staying inside
Fresh air is still important for your brain even if we stay inside. Even without a garden or a balcony, like in my case, fresh air is available from any window.
Make staring out of the window your non-negotiable activity. It still exposes you to fresh air and your face to the sun. Stay for a few minutes just to enjoy some fresh air, which is truly fresh these days due to fewer cars. Even you don’t have a nice view, watch attentively the view you have. Maybe the cracks on the wall in front of you will inspire you for Picasso-like painting. Who knows…
Tip 5: Take it easy
Some suggest to dress up and makeup fully to feel productive, but I suggest to take it easy. Find a comfortable balance between pyjamas and office attire. If you feel productive in sweatpants or jeans, stick to them.
But even beyond that, treat yourself to something nice during any day. Pour yourself a glass of wine at 16h or do a quick session of Sims4 during lunch. Treat yourself! Even if a day was not productive or nice, take it easy and reinvent tomorrow. It’s a trial and no error until you find your balance.
Bonus tip: don’t overthink and let it go.
There is a lot of pressure on what one can achieve during the quarantine, but it’s also a once in a lifetime opportunity to slow down and do nothing…. when we can. In the end, you only live once, so why not screw the plans and expectations, stop the unnecessary self-talk and just fully embrace doing absolutely nothing. And when you are tired of doing nothing just get back to Tip 1.
Have fun experimenting with your day and I hope you will find these tips useful. Feel free to share with me your tips to stay sane and productive in the full-time home office during a lockdown? Happy Monday!