A few simple changes could make all the difference, especially with your stress levels.

The pandemic definitely changed a lot for us. For many, the biggest change was no longer going into the office to work. It was an awkward and challenging change and it may still be giving you issues. If you haven't gone back into the physical office, you might need a refresher on how to operate best in your remote setup. Or perhaps you were just notified that your home office will be your permanent office from here on out.

Working from home can be an adjustment and it can be lonely, but there are things you can do to make the experience better for everyone. I have spent time working from home before and it wasn't always easy. However, there are also big benefits to being at home.

1. Set Work Hours

The biggest thing is making sure your time at the office remains your time at the office. If normally you work nine to five, then keep those hours while at home. If you routinely took breaks during your normal work day, then schedule those in while you're at home. This will help your mind turn on when it needs to and turn off when it doesn't need to. It's also extremely important that when quitting time hits, you stick to it. It can be tempting to check an email or jump in to handle a project for a few minutes after dinner or before bed, but this will end up hurting you in the long run.

2. Create an Office Space

Maybe during the pandemic you worked wherever it was comfortable because this was a temporary thing. However, if you are going to be home permanently, you need a good office space. That space should include a table or desk, a comfortable chair, and preferably it will have a door. Your body and mind get into a rhythm and they like routine. If you can give yourself a space to "go into the office" your brain and body will remember that it's work time. This will also make it easier for your brain to turn off when the work day is over. Also, the door is important for shutting out noise and distractions. Also, try not to use this space for other things besides work. Keep it sacred and you'll find yourself being more productive.

3. Take a Lunch Break

Just like being physically in the office, it's good to take a break in the middle of the day. Use this time to get away from your desk and off of your email. Eat a good meal that's not too heavy and maybe go for a walk or stretch. I think taking care of your body is important during the day. It can be tempting to just hunker down and bust out all of your tasks, but getting some fresh air and getting that blood pumping again will do wonders for your energy, focus and creativity. And don't forget to stay hydrated.

4. Stay Away from Household Tasks

Running the dishwasher or throwing in a load of laundry while you're working may sound like a great idea, but this kind of multitasking can really prevent you from doing your best work. One of the reasons why you're so successful at the office is because that's the place you get your work done and there's no way you could do chores at the same time. Again, the more you can treat your office hours as your office hours, the better you're going to perform. Plus, if you buckle down and get to work, you might be able to "leave the office" early. One of the benefits of working from home is having limited office/coworker distractions and time flexibility.

5. Get Out and Get Social

If you're living and working under the same roof, it's really easy to just stay in your own little cave. For those who are extremely extroverted, it will be easy for you to meet up with friends for happy hour or grab coffee with a colleague, but others may need an extra push. If you are naturally introverted, it could be weeks before you remember that you should probably take in some new scenery or see some new faces. Arrange to get out of the house a few times a week. Since the social aspect and daily commute are out of the occasion, your remote setup can get a little lonely. If possible, maybe on your lighter work days, you grab your laptop and go work at your favorite coffee shop or head to the library. Getting out of the house will keep you from going stir crazy.

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