According to the calendar, it’s officially summer. But with vacations and the usual celebrations on hold due to the pandemic, it may not feel like it. That’s why it’s important to hit the reset button on working from home, practice some self-care, and find ways to have a little fun in the next couple of months. We’ve shared some of our suggestions for doing so below.
First, do a work-from-home check-in.
When most of the world began working from home back in March, we gobbled up all the great tips from veteran WFH types. But, as the fourth month of remote work begins, it’s probably time for some reflection—what’s working, what’s not? Here are some things to think about:
Are you more productive during certain times of the day?
Make sure to block off time for focused or strategic thinking during those hours. Save mundane tasks like email and calendar cleanup for times when you’re less focused. I use my early morning to catch up on email. I then hit my makeshift at-home gym for a workout. Then I’m ready to really get into my day with a clear mind and full energy (with a few more cups of coffee, of course).
If you have children, do you need to revise your schedule?
With school out and many camps canceled, create a new summer schedule so that you can maintain productivity and still keep the kids entertained.
Are you getting drawn into household chores more than you should?
Determine ahead of time when—or if—you will spend time during the workday attending to household tasks. Consider assigning chores to family members to help take some responsibilities off your plate. When our dishwasher needs to be emptied, I’m pretty sure the early riser gets the best part of the dishwasher—the silverware.
Are your pets getting tired of all the attention?
Make sure you’re continuing to get some form of “people connection” each day. I love to catch up with my team on Zoom. We start our meetings with a quick chat about life—including weekend plans, the latest exercise goals, and what the kids are up to.
Is it time for a workspace refresh?
A bouquet of flowers, a different picture on the wall where you sit, a new plant, an essential oil diffuser—all of these can inject some new life into your home workspace. My hydrangeas are in full bloom and add a touch of summer to my office.
Are you suffering from work creep?
It’s tempting to let work extend into the evening. Be sure to keep regular hours and log off completely at a set time each day if you can.
Second, go easy on yourself.
Working from home has its challenges for sure. One of the best things you can do is to acknowledge that it may not be a perfect arrangement, and give yourself—and those around you—permission to be human. Consider these tips:
- Take time each morning or at the end of the day to practice gratitude and acknowledge the positive things in your life.
- Let your body be your guide. One WebMD employee says, “Sometimes I don’t realize I’ve been sitting for way too long until I feel stiff; also, I make sure to give my eyes a rest from laptop and phone screens.” If necessary, set alarms to remind you to move and take a break from your screens.
- Take advantage of the slower pace of life right now to do something you don’t normally get to do—like taking a walk, exercising in the middle of the day, or eating your lunch outside.
- Continue to make time for nutritious food and hydration. Now is also the perfect time to eat seasonally. With restaurant orders down, farmers’ markets are brimming with fresh produce.
- Take mini breaks throughout the workday to do things like walk your dog, grab a coffee from a local takeout spot, breathe some fresh air, and stretch.
- Tap into music if it makes you feel more productive. Spotify has some playlists perfect for this moment:
Third, take time off to recharge and refresh.
This one’s not so easy. We typically associate vacation with actually going somewhere, which is less feasible these days. But it’s still important to take time off during the summer. Many organizations are widely encouraging employees to take PTO, or have gone the extra step by providing company-wide breaks from work. For example, Google held a company-wide holiday on May 22 to address work-from-home-related burnout.
If you can plan a safe getaway, maybe to the mountains or the beach, great. If not, there are still plenty of ways to get some much-needed downtime at home. A few ideas for home-based summer activities include:
- A backyard campout
- Online cooking classes
- A hike at a nearby trail or park
- Outdoor movies with a projector and bedsheet
- Picnics in the park
- Catching lightning bugs (this family favorite has become an evening “wellness challenge” at my house)
- Stargazing (you’ll be surprised at what you see now that light pollution has decreased)
Uncertainty about the coronavirus and recent flare-ups in some states will make many of the usual summer activities off-limits. But with some planning and creativity, you can still reap the benefits of taking time off and “arrive” back at your home office refreshed and ready to take on the next couple of months of working from home!