So I’ve had this post in my drafts for probably about a month now. It’s safe to say that the world has changed irrevocably due to the Coronavirus crisis. And, 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 to be talking a bit about 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 really 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’m simply no longer getting the time I used to have to work.
I’ve had to revisit my past life in teaching so that I can help Small-Me 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 I used to be a primary school teacher, but 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’ve found myself really keeping track of where our next meals will come from. It’s been a bit frightening to realise how bad my household actually 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, that 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 of the things I’ve been finding hardest is the feeling that I have to 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 (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, but without any kind of time to get something done, that can become a slippery slope. Look at the scope of your new daily routine (and lack of) 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 workrate 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
Now, 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 drag yourself 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 Small-Me 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 coccoon indoors forever, but that’s not necessarily a good thing for my wellbeing.
Get dressed every day, but when you feel down then 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 this assumption to be pretty condescending, but with more of us than ever having to adjust to home working, it needs addressing.
It’s very tempting to stay in your pyjamas all day when you’re home-based. The problem I find with that is that it’s harder to get yourself into a working frame of mind when you start to blur the lines between home and work. I’ve discussed this before but making sure you get dressed and ready as you would for a job outdoors can really help you ramp up your productivity indoors. 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 sem-nice top most days! But everyone has days where they just feel a bit shit, and that’s totally to be expected right now. Don’t bash yourself if you need the odd day to relax, but make sure you don’t 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 have 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 becoming a bit resentful of my family’s 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 somehow spirals through the days of what seems like repetitive nothingness.
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 (hopefully) because it’s something that’s 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 the fight with my motivation. I suspect a lot of people who may be new to working from home will find themselves 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 the straight and narrow. I’ve seen a lot of people bashing the idea of productivity during this weird and crazy time in our lives, but honestly, it helps a lot of people. 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.
I think it’s perhaps 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 for many of the self-employed. So even if it’s just one thing, just do something.
How are you keeping on top of your wellbeing as a remote worker?
If you’re new to the world of remote working 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.
You might also like to check out some of the free lockdown life printables I’ve put together, which you can download and use to help you stay a bit more motivated and organised. Let me know if they’re helpful!
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 my one task for the day that I’ve managed to actually accomplish. What’s yours?
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