Maintaining Routines When Working Remotely

If you’re reading this, I don’t need to tell you what a crazy month it’s been. March 2020 has brought vast changes to our daily lives in the blink of an eye, one of the biggest being how we work. Telecommuting has swiftly shifted from an occasional (or possibly nonexistent) practice for many professionals to the absolute norm for all non-essential employees.

Although working from home sounds like paradise on paper, it can actually be a challenging adjustment for those who are not accustomed to it. This is mainly due to the upset it causes for our daily rhythms – as creatures of habit, sudden, major changes in routine can be disruptive on a basic human level. Since the current state of the world is fortunately temporary, it is vital to maintain our daily routines as much as possible so there’s no difficulty switching back upon returning to business as usual.

Up and At ‘Em

As tempting as it may be to sleep in every day due to the lack of commute, it’s recommended to rise as close to your normal time as possible. Doing so will spare you from a difficult readjustment when the time comes to start commuting normally again.

If you do choose to get a little extra shut-eye (can’t say I blame you) make sure you are at least sticking to the same time every morning – becoming less strict about when you get up can throw off your momentum for the entire day, making you less productive. Also, waking up at different times each day can throw your circadian rhythms severely out of whack, which affect health on multiple levels.

Dress to Impress…Nobody

Believe it or not, it’s actually in your best interest to continue to get yourself ready as if you’re going to the office…even though you’re not. Comb your hair, brush your teeth, and yes – even dress like you’re going to work. As fun as it is, forget working in your pajamas.

Although this sounds bizarre, ask anyone who’s been unemployed for an extended period of time and they’ll tell you that once you lose this habit, it’s far more difficult than you may think to get it back. You may also find it harder to stay motivated and energized without it because you won’t feel like your usual, stylish self. It’s prudent to uphold that sense of normalcy in your morning routine or you risk having a difficult time reacclimating later on.

Stay Active and Leave the House

Whether it’s because of an injury, illness, or inclement weather, we all know what it’s like to be stuck at home. It’s a drag – but just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you need to be sitting still all day.

When working on location, it’s much easier to stay active between commuting, interacting with co-workers, walking to different places around the office like the copy room or break area, leaving for lunch, etc. When working remotely, it’s essential to find similar, active ways to break up your day while preserving your regular routines as much as possible. An excellent way to do this is by going out for a walk during the times you would normally be commuting, and another walk in the middle of the day around lunchtime. This way, you can stay active, energized, and focused while virtually keeping your ordinary habits the same.

Remember to Stop Working

Just as it’s important to start your work day normally at home, it’s advisable to end your day normally as well. Without co-workers physically around to keep you in check, it’s easy to lose track of time and work longer hours than you normally would. While being more productive certainly isn’t a bad thing, straying from your routine in this way can make you overexert yourself which can cause negative mental health effects and burnout. Keep your eye on the clock and wrap up around the time you would usually head home.

Just because current circumstances have temporarily required us to go about our daily lives differently doesn’t mean we need to lose our sense of normalcy. By working to sustain our regular habits in work and life safely, we can find comfort in the knowledge that we will soon return to our normal routines with a greater sense of purpose and appreciation for life than ever before.

All of us at CHRG wish everyone the best of health. Click here for a list of free, helpful COVID-19-related resources including telework guidance for employees.