More and more people prefer to work from home these days. A global survey conducted in 2018 revealed that 70% of professionals globally work remotely at least once a week and 53% work remotely for at least half a week.
One of the reasons why many employees choose to work outside the traditional office setting and manage their tasks from home is because working from home has been proven to significantly reduce stress. However, while this may be true for many people, some also experience stress even if they are working from the comforts of their own home.
If you are one of these people, and you are looking for ways to reduce your stress levels while working from home, here are 5 tips:
1. Schedule your work when you are most productive
If you’re working in an office, you are most likely required to report at set schedules like 9 AM to 5 PM. Whether you’re a morning person or not, you would have to get up and brave the morning commute every single day. This daily grind is one of the reasons why many people choose flexible working times and the option to work from home.
What’s surprising is that many people still follow a fixed 8-hour schedule even if they’re working from home. For many, this is the sure-fire way that they can get things done and separate their personal stuff from their work tasks.
Following this can also help avoid working non-stop, which is why many people recommend following a set time. However, sticking to a strict work schedule can also be very stressful and in reality, it defeats the advantage of working from home, which is being able to choose a time when you want to work.
Working from home gives you the flexibility to schedule your work around your personal life so you can achieve a satisfying work-life balance. However, if you’re constraining yourself to a fixed schedule, not being able to keep to this schedule can add to your stress, especially if unexpected things come up.
This does not mean however that you should not keep a schedule at all. Instead of following a regimented nine to five daily routine, find out your peak productivity time that works for you and schedule your tasks during these periods.
If you’re the type of person who can’t get things done in the morning, go ahead and snooze away. It will be better for you to schedule your work in the afternoons rather than forcing yourself to work early without achieving anything. If you find, however, that a nine to five schedule is best for you, then that’s also not an issue.
The takeaway here is that you have the power to decide when to do your work so use that to your advantage rather than being limited by it.
2. Take frequent breaks
One of the best things about working from home is that if you’re feeling stuck whether mentally or physically, you can always take a break without anyone commenting about it. Many people who work from home do not take advantage of this luxury.
Remember that you’re no longer trapped at your office desk, so you don’t need to stay there for eight hours straight!
There have been numerous studies suggesting that a sedentary lifestyle, including sitting on an office desk for long periods, can shorten your life. This can also cause a lot of physical pains like backaches and neck pains, which can add to your stress.
Before you even begin feeling eye strain or stiff neck, make sure that you’re giving yourself time to move and breathe.
Get up and stretch out. Go to the kitchen and have a cup of coffee. Contrary to common belief, studies have shown that coffee breaks don’t kill productivity, instead, these breaks can help you become more alert and avoid mistakes.
When you take these micro breaks, you are also allowing your brain to recharge so you can be more creative and efficient in doing your work.
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3. Create a dedicated workspace
Whether you live in a small studio space or a five-bedroom home, it is recommended to have a dedicated working space that you can call your own. It can be an entire home office or just a small desk by the window. What’s important is that you do your work in that space and if people live with you, they are aware that that space is for you.
Why is this important? When you don’t have a fixed space to work in, you’re most likely to use just any available space in the house. This will expose you to a lot of distractions.
One of the pitfalls of working from home is having distractions. Distractions can come in the form of family members, roommates, television, or even your own bed. When you are distracted from your work, the tendency is that you won’t be able to complete your tasks on schedule which can be very stressful.
This can be avoided if you have your own workspace away from these distractions. If you don’t live alone, try to avoid working in common rooms like the living room or kitchen where people may come and go constantly.
4. Get rid of clutter
If you’re reading this while you’re in front of your work desk, take a hard look at your working table and your office. How many items do you really need in that space? Are all the items around helping you become more productive? If there are items that are not necessary, these may be adding to your stress. According to a study, clutter can restrict your ability to focus, process information, and can make you distracted.
Make sure to have your work area always clean and organized. Remove unnecessary items in your work area to help you focus better. If you have an uneaten bar of candy beside your laptop, a coffee mug from two days ago, or paper files that you haven’t touched in months, then it’s time for you to do a KonMari makeover of your workspace and get rid of anything that doesn’t spark joy, or in this case, spark productivity.
5. Know when to log off
There are people who believe that working from home can cause more stress. This is because you can be at risk of longer working hours, unpaid overtime, lack of sleep, or the inability to separate work from your personal life. When you’re working from home, nobody is there to command you to keep working, but at the same time, nobody will also switch off the lights and tell you to go home. The temptation to just keep on working exists which can result in overworking and stress. How can this be avoided?
The best way to avoid working non-stop is to become results-oriented in planning your day. Prioritize what you want to achieve during your workday using realistic timelines. Don’t cram in too many tasks when you know that it’s impossible to finish those tasks in eight hours.
If a job is too big to finish in a day, break it down into smaller tasks and stop when the tasks are completed. For example, if you’re supposed to write a 30-page report which you know you can’t complete in one day, divide the work into 10 pages a day over three days. After completing 10 pages, stop working and continue the next day.
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Another useful tip is to take time to plan your schedule. If you know what work is coming your way, calendar your tasks early on to avoid stressing out and cramming when the deadlines are near. Use a digital calendar that can prompt you of your deadlines so you’ll not miss out on important dates.
Busting work from home stress
Working from home can provide a lot of benefits to employees, however, if you practice poor work habits, you could suffer from numerous distractions which can stress you out. Following the recommendations above could help you in managing your work and hopefully, reduce your stress levels when working from home.
This blog was contributed by Nathan Sharpe. Nathan is a business advisor and business writer at Biznas. He has helped many clients solve their business problems, and now imparts his advisory knowledge onto others to help them improve their businesses too.