It’s safe to say that the world has changed irrevocably due to the Coronavirus crisis. While we don’t yet know how temporary this shift in our lifestyles may be, it’s caused the landscape of the working world to adapt massively. In this post, I’m going explore ways of keeping on top of your wellbeing as a remote worker.
Which is kind of ironic really, given that I’ve been neglecting my own. You may have noticed that I haven’t written anything new since this whole thing kicked into gear. Part of that has been down to the huge changes we’ve all had to make. My home routine has changed dramatically, and I simply no longer get the time I used to have to work.
I’ve had to revisit my past life in teaching so that I can help my daughter through the upheaval in her own life as smoothly as possible. Let me tell you, there’s nothing especially smooth about it. I’m lucky in that respect, as I used to be a primary school teacher. Still, there’s nothing familiar about having to step into that role again to work with your own child. It’s not easy.
Sacrifices have had to be made, and some of them have been fundamental. For the first time in my adult life, I’m really keeping track of where our next meals might come from. It’s been a bit frightening to realise how bad my household was at self-reliance. With all the panic buying and stock shortages, I’ve rapidly developed a skillset in frugal living; perhaps one of the silver linings of this whole thing is that I’ll be far less wasteful of my food in future.
Anyway, I’m rambling, which I often do when I haven’t written for a while and then jump straight back into it. Let’s talk about how to keep on top of your wellbeing as a remote worker.
Keeping on top of your wellbeing as a remote worker
The odd thing about working from home is that it’s actually something I’m used to. I’ve done it for the last few years, so if anyone should know how to navigate this, it’s me. However, I work remotely under a certain set of circumstances; notably, when I work, my child is at school and my house is quiet enough for me to get stuff done. Obviously, that’s no longer the case.
So, how do you keep on top of your wellbeing and try to maintain some sort of productivity when your routine is totally disrupted?
The short answer to this is that you can’t. I know, I bet you were expecting some kind of super-bloggy how-to guide on what to do to stay on top of things. That’s not really what I can offer in this post, as much as I’d like to pretend otherwise. It’s hard bloody work at the moment, and one thing I find particularly hard is the feeling that I should be working, and not being able to do that.
Remote worker wellbeing ideas
So, while I don’t have the answers to this problem, I do have a few ideas about keeping on top of your wellbeing as a remote worker. I think this is especially important for people who have never worked from home before. Some people in particular, who have jobs that involve spending time outdoors, will really struggle with the change in pace, so hopefully, this will be helpful for them.
If you’re struggling with having to stay indoors or with others in your personal space, the first thing to remind yourself is that you’re not a terrible person for finding that hard. It’s a huge change to the norm, and it doesn’t mean you or your family unit is a mess; you’re just all used to having your own independent lives.
Take each day as it comes
I know it sounds trite. However, I’ve been really struggling with the idea of planning ahead. It’s not viable right now, as no one knows how long this road is going to be. So one thing that has helped me to stay on top of my wellbeing as a remote worker is taking things day by day. Even if you just give yourself one small task for the day, you’ll feel happier about it once you get it done.
It’s perfectly fine to roll with things and see what happens each day. However, without any kind of time to get something done, that can become a slippery slope. Consider the scope of your new daily routine and see where you could potentially pencil in one thing that can help you reconnect with your life prior to the lockdown.
Most importantly though, don’t beat yourself up about not being able to maintain the same work rate as you used to. Life has changed. We’re all adjusting to it, so it’s more important than ever to just take each day as it comes.
The best time to go outside is when you really don’t want to
I know we’re all staying indoors, but be careful not to get trapped inside indefinitely. I’ve definitely fallen victim to this. Whether it’s fear or laziness I don’t know, but I’ve been reluctant to get any kind of daily exercise outside of the house.
If you can get out for a walk, the best time to do that is when you think you don’t want to. I’ve made a point this week of going out with my child for a walk around the seafront, and I’ve felt so much better afterwards. Even when I really didn’t want to go outdoors at all!
Try and remember to take care of your body’s need for exercise and fresh air, no matter how much you might hate the idea of it right now. Left to my own devices, I think I’d cocoon indoors forever, but that’s not necessarily a good thing for my wellbeing.
Get dressed every day, but don’t forget to give yourself a day off
One of the strongest misconceptions about freelancers and remote workers prior to all this is that we work in pyjamas or that we don’t bother getting up and dressed for work. Personally, I’ve always found that pretty condescending, but with more of us than ever having to adjust to home working, it needs addressing.
It’s tempting to stay in your pyjamas all day when you’re home-based. For me though, it’s harder to get into a working frame of mind when I start to blur the lines between home and work. I’ve discussed this before but making sure you get dressed and ready for the day can really help you ramp up your productivity. I’m not suggesting you need to wear a full face of makeup and a trouser suit or anything, but if you get dressed and ready to work, you’re more likely to actually get something done.
That said, it’s absolutely fine if you’re feeling a bit low to just give yourself a onesie day. My work attire is a weird hybrid of tracksuit bottoms and a semi-nice top most days! But everyone has off days, and that’s totally to be expected right now. Don’t bash yourself if you need the odd day to relax, but try not to let it become too much of a habit.
Don’t try to be ‘always on’
If you’re new to working from home you might feel tempted to be always available and find yourself catching up on emails and jobs at all hours of the night. Try not to fall into this too much. It’s really easy to do and almost always results in a sense of time being meaningless and all things merging into one.
Try and maintain some cut-off points between your work time and your free time. With everything going on, this is something I’ve really struggled with, as I’ve been grabbing spare time here and there in small chunks whenever they’ve cropped up.
As a result, I’m tired, working really sporadically (if at all) and struggling with additional family demands on my time. That’s not fair on them and it’s frustrating for me. So, I’m going to try and plan out some scheduled time each day for me to do my work tasks and stick to it, no matter what. Hopefully, this will help ease the sense of chaotic energy that spirals through days that feel so repetitive right now.
Find an outlet
With your usual routine disrupted, you’re going to find that frustrations creep in quite quickly. Find yourself an outlet of some kind and use it! Whether it’s decluttering, cooking, drawing or gaming, try and make some time for a bit of escapism. It’ll save you from getting too wound up when your workspace is compromised and stop you from losing your temper due to the sudden lack of personal space.
I’ve found an outlet in my Xbox, which I honestly think has saved me from losing my patience more than a few times over the last few weeks. I’m going to write another post on that this week at some point because gaming is really helping me to stay connected to people without having to actually go outside.
Just do something
One of the hardest things for me throughout this whole lockdown period has been keeping on top of my motivation. Lots of people who may be new to working from home might feel like they’re in the same boat. My only advice on this point is to just do something. Make a list, send an email, plan a post, schedule a call, revisit your old writing, read a book, but just do something.
That one thing could help you kickstart your motivation again and help get you back on an even keel, work-wise. If you don’t feel like you need to stay motivated then that’s brilliant, but I always feel worse when I haven’t done anything that I feel was productive.
Perhaps it’s the freelancer mindset, because I know that if I don’t work, I don’t generate any kind of income at all. There’s no safety net for freelancers, and at the moment things have never looked less certain. So even if it’s just one thing, just do something.
How do you stay on top of your wellbeing as a remote worker?
If you’re new to the world of remote work then feel free to leave a comment and let me know how you’re coping. There are no hard and fast answers to the situation we’re all in right now, but we need to keep talking and keep trying to help each other stay positive.
This has been the first post I’ve written in weeks because I’ve been having a really hard time adjusting to the new routine of things. So while I hope to improve my output, this is the one task for the day that I’ve managed to accomplish. What’s yours?
Let me know how you’re getting on in the comments. If you’ve found this post useful at all then please do give it a share or a pin on Pinterest. Your support really helps people like me out right now.