After almost a whole year of social distancing, gloomy headlines and lockdowns, almost everyone I speak to is itching to get back to normality. Sadly, normality is starting to feel like the crock of gold at the end of a rainbow, never getting closer, no matter how fast you chase it: this hasn't been helped this week by the news that we might not even get a summer holiday this year. I'm sure we will get there, but right now, sitting here on a freezing and windy February day, it feels like an unattainable pipedream.
I can certainly remember that in the past, working from home was a real perk. It offered flexibility, provided space for focusing and allowed recovery of the time that would normally be spent commuting. Many of us have now been working from home for almost a full 12 months and with so many restrictions on our freedoms outside of work, it can now feel totally different. Working from home used to help encourage the feeling that we were working to live but now it can produce the opposite effect: on average, across the UK and many other countries, workers are putting in an extra 2.5 hours a day! or 12.5 hours a week.
If you're starting to feel that you're home-life has disappeared and that you're now living to work, you're not the only one. Neil suggested some strategies last month that may help with getting through the working day and I just wanted to follow that up with some further tips that can help provide separation between work and home.
1: Stick to your set working times
When we're working from home it can be really easy to fall out of bed with moments to spare, miss the shower and end up, sill in pyjamas in front of our laptop 5 minutes later, only getting dressed if we have a meeting to attend. Do those extra minutes in bed really help?
I spoke to a hypnotherapist at a remote networking event recently and he suggested getting up earlier, spending time exercising or meditating and making sure that time was set aside for a proper breakfast and shower. Morning exercise or meditation isn't everyone's cup of tea but reading a book, listening to a podcast or spending time on a hobby could be just as valuable, getting you off to a great start in the morning. Likewise, finishing work on time and making sure you do something for yourself is just as important.
I think that the key here is having a routine and sticking to it. At the end of 2019, the average UK commute was 59 minutes, so by sticking to normal working hours, many people will find themselves with an extra two hours a day, free of charge. Could it be time for you to finally learn that instrument you've always wanted to play?
2: Switch off
I know of two people who, outside of their working time, switch off synchronisation of work email on their mobiles. Work messages go unchecked before & after work and at weekends. This wouldn't work for everyone all the time but may be something to do every now and then. Combined with sticking to a routine, this will help separate the different parts of your daily routine.
According to this Lifehacker article, exercise tricks our bodies into a fight or flight response and in turn, our brains then produce a hormone that helps us to deal with stress. On the flip side, there is evidence that sitting and binge watching a tv show can harm our moods.
I'm as bad as anyone when it comes to avoiding exercise, especially when it's cold outside but maybe that needs to change for me. What about you?
That's just three simple suggestions that may help you deal with your cabin fever.
Remember though, that if your work culture is such that you don't feel able to make time for yourself, maybe it's time for a new role and that's where we can help. We're working with some great companies and many of our roles are suitable for remote working. If you feel it's time for a bigger change, you could do worse than to start by clicking here and checking out our jobs page.