Tips for ongoing remote work: That the last 8 months have taught us

 In Colorado Spirit

I don’t know about you, but when I walked out of my office on my last day of “regular” work last March, I did not in my wildest imagination think that come December I would still be working 100% remotely and my other family members would be continuing to work and school remotely. I also completely underestimated the impact long-term remote work would have on me. I foolishly thought that because remote work has been part of my work schedule for the past few years this shift was no big deal…yikes…I was wrong!

Our Personal Favorite Tips for Working from Home

We know there are a lot of great tips for working from home; our team decided to share some of our personal favorites, with examples of how they have helped us with this longer term adjustment.

Routines are important – Having a morning routine where you do something for yourself before starting work is a tip that all of our team members shared. One team member observed that “the days when I open my laptop before my routine generally get highjacked as typically I will be tied to it like glue for at least a few hours before taking a break, and at that point I will have decided that there are too many work priorities for any personal time.” So whether is it reading, praying, moving your body in some way, or getting outside, make sure to engage in a morning routine that supports you!

Making schedules can help too – Because our normal schedules are being disrupted and it’s easy to blur the line with having a 30 second commute to work vs. 30 minutes, creating and holding to a daily structure through a schedule can make our work time boundaries more clear.

Focus and productivity can be challenging when working from home – One member of our team found an app to help and she highly recommends it! She uses Focus Keeper when there are big items on a to-do list because it helps tackle them in chunks without multitasking or getting distracted. It sets you up for 25 minutes of focus before an alert goes off to take a break. She finds that having a timer helps stay focused, “almost like it’s a game and I’m challenging myself to focus for 25 minutes, which is pretty doable.” She then rewards herself by taking a break and shifting gears. Not sure if that app is right for you? Kirstin O’Donovan shares a list of 18 time management apps and tools here.

Don’t forget to eat lunch and don’t let figuring out what to eat derail you – Another team member shared that “planning out lunches the day before still helps even if I’m not technically leaving the house. I usually try to have what I’m going to eat in mind and prepped so that I can quickly put together my lunch and then enjoy that extra time away from my laptop.” Another team member shared that she will sometimes work during her meal prep time by reviewing a recording of a meeting she needs to watch, but then she unplugs and eats far away from her devices so her line of sight is free of work tasks.

Consider if a change of scenery would help – Some of us benefit from a dedicated work space that is set up as much like our “normal” office as possible. Others on the team shared that moving around their work space during the day (even if they are not changing which room they are in) creates variety and helps them stay engaged in work tasks.

Talk to your co-workers and explore if an accountability buddy system would help – As a therapist, I am all about collaborative and supportive team members. It has been amazing for me to see how despite being a 100% remote team, we have found ways to support each other with goals, boundaries, and wellness practices. Our team created a monthly wellness challenge to help us hold ourselves to goals of not eating at our computers, being active, and drinking more water. One of my co-workers knows I can be awful about eating lunch when I get busy, so she often gently and compassionately checks in with me about when I last ate. Support from our co-workers over the things we need and want to do to take care of ourselves is crucial. We can’t do self-care in a vacuum; we need others in our lives to value us taking care of ourselves just as much we do.

Move your body! – When we work at home it is easy to move less. I was floored at how much more sedentary I am when working at home vs. when I was in the office. It has been important for me to make a conscious effort to move during the day. Many folks on our team shared that lunchtime walks are key for them. Another team member shared that she tries to identify one day a week that appears to be least intense workwise and she books a ball machine at the tennis courts near her apartment. “For whatever reason this is the equivalent of my yoga and I put on my play list and forget the world for those 90 minutes. This is my special treat to myself. When I get home I often have the most productive work day of the week.” When she shared this with us, several of us commented that her vivid description made us want to take up tennis. ​So, whether you walk, take up tennis, lift weights, or stretch…remember to move.

And, on that note, I am wrapping up my day and heading out for a quick walk. See you next week!

Would speaking to someone help?

To speak with someone in the Colorado Spirit Program about stress related to the pandemic, please call 720-707-6789 or visit our web page at www.allhealthnetwork.org/Colorado-Spirit

For information about other services at AllHealth Network or to get connected with ongoing behavioral health support, please call: 303-730-8858.

AllHealth Network is continuing to provide service via telehealth or by phone and our Crisis Walk-in Center remains open 24/7. To learn more about what other community mental health centers are doing, please visit The Colorado Behavioral Health Council COVID-19 website.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and are in need of immediate assistance, please call the Colorado Crisis Hotline at 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255

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