• Eve Arnold

7 Ways to Get Over the Monotony of Working From Home

Working from home is great but it’s a little, monotonous.

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

When Covid-19 swept, there was one thing that it became clear was pretty imminent. Working from home. I’m sure, like me, you wooed at the idea of no commute, waking up later and in general just feeling like you have more time.

More time means presumably a cleaner house, more time dedicated to self-development and looking after yourself (although I’m sure my hair gets washed considerably less).

And it has been great. I’m exercising more than I ever have, I don’t have a bad back from driving all the time and my cooking has improved considerably. On top of that my dogs are exponentially happier and for the first time in my life I’ve managed to stick some good habits.

However, us humans are never satisfied. There is just this one thing about working from home. A tiny little thing. It’s a little bit, dare I say, monotonous.

Freedom

After the initial joy of freedom from no longer having to be in the office for a certain time, waking up later, having a 0.5 second commute. The novelty wears off. You start to get a little, bored. Whenever it hits midweek it’s hard to tell whether it’s actually Tuesday or Wednesday, the days seem to blur into one.

Working within the same four walls have a lot of benefits as aforementioned but they are just the same four walls.

You wake up in the same four walls and go to sleep in the same four walls. Your house becomes the centre of your universe and it all seems a little mundane. It might be fine if you had a holiday to look forward to or drinks to go to at the end of the week. However, in lieu of any socialising less than 2m away, we are well… bored.

So how do we mix it up again. In the words of Rory Sutherland:

“The cheapest way to get a new car is clean the one you have.”

So this is us, cleaning our old car to make it feel new again.

1. Incorporate New Activities Into Your Morning Routine – Working from Home

Now, I don’t mean to highjack your morning routine. If anyone suggested to me switching up my current morning routine I would not be happy. However, I figure I’m a little particular about my morning routine and everyone else is hopefully not as particular as I. Since lock down I’ve moved my morning walk to first thing, carried on with my journalling and changed the reading in the morning to writing.

I know crazy stuff.

The mix up means it’s harder to fall back to sleep. I wake up and immediately get changed and then get outside as soon as possible. The cold air is a sure fire way to wake me up and by the time I’ve been outside for 30 minutes, I’m unlikely to crawl back into bed (unlikely, not unheard of).

Try mixing up your morning routine to suit lockdown and working from home. If you can incorporate some sort of outside time. Being inside all day is cosy and nice but it doesn’t do much for the senses. Getting outside gives us some fresh perspective, a healthy dose of vitamin D and a welcomed change of scenery.

2. Swap Out Coffee For Green Tea (Other Drinks Are Available)

The little things often make the biggest difference. Drinking the same drink day in day out, having a break at the same time, having 2.5 cups of coffee every day makes things a little, well prescribed. Not bad. Just the same. Swapping consistent elements of your day gives you something new to look forward to. I know it’s just a drink but like I say, it’s the little things.

Try swapping your daily drink:

  1. Green tea

  2. Peppermint tea

  3. Juice

  4. Water

  5. Diet Coke

Mixing it up will give you something to look forward to and give your taste buds a break from the caffeine. I’ve recently started drinking dilute juice and it’s making all the difference.

3. Go For a Walk at Lunch – Working from Home

I’ve got dogs, so walking rain or shine, is just part of the job description. Before the girls (the dogs) I wouldn’t go outside much. I never had a reason to. However, walking everyday really makes a difference to my overall wellbeing. If I haven’t been outside in the day I’m sure to get a dose of cabin fever by 5pm. Walking is good for your physical health as well as your mental health. Often a change of scenery is all you need to feel a sense of renewed energy and focus.

By going for a walk at lunch I find it breaks up the day. It makes you realise that life isn’t all that bad and there is a lot of beauty in the world. Try and find a walk that involves a lot of nature. You’ll find yourself appreciating the shape of leaves and the smell of the grass. It’s the little things that often are so powerful in life if we take a look long enough to notice them.

When we are in the office we do a lot of walking around. Walking to meetings, walking to get lunch, walking to meet for a coffee. When you are working from home the most you’ll be doing is walking to the kitchen to grab a drink. Try and stretch your legs a little.

4. Ring a Colleague For a Chit Chat

One of the things it’s easy to miss by working from home is the chit-chat with your colleagues. Normally, you’d get into work and have a chat about your evening or weekend, catch up with the latest in each others lives and just have a general chat about life. That is hard to do over conference call.

Instead an alternative option is to ring them four the soul purpose of having little bit of a chat. It doesn’t need to be work specific just check in with how they’re getting on. Sometimes it’s really nice to have a chat with pal about the state of the world. It can make your day or even your week.

Added to this, it’s nice just to ask about people’s lives in general. Whether or not you are ringing about work, you can always start the conversation with:

“Hey, how you getting on with everything?”

We are, as a collective group, experiencing unknown territory. It’s nice to feel like our fellow humans are looking out for us. We really are going through a moment in history (hopefully we are soon to be out of it) but caring and asking about how your work mate is feeling is part of being human.

Work is all about building relationships. Whatever you need to overcome I would bet a human is involved. Spending the extra time to ask about people’s day not only makes them feel good and thought of, you’ll probably find that selfishly for you, you get what you want much easier.

5. Mix Up Your Lunches – Working from Home

Now we’re at home we’ve got more time to make our meal times a little more, well, refined. You’ve got the time to make a sauce or part-bake some bread. You’re not limited to a microwave and waiting 20 minutes to get to it in the office kitchen. Before your options were pretty limited, either leftovers from the night before or tinned soup. My choice always ended up being tinned soup. Not exactly a 5* lunch.

Now you’ve got more to work with. You’ve not only got a microwave but an oven and a hob. You could fry something, bake something, boil something. The options are endless.

Take the time to make a tasty lunch, something that you can look forward to and you will enjoy. Lunch time is often a highlight of the day, why not make it more of a highlight. Get fancy with your dressing, add some fineness to things.

6. Vary Start and End Times (if possible)

This will depend on how flexible your work is but if you can try out varying the start and end time. We often get bored because things feel the same every day. It’s like you are experiencing the same day over and over and it becomes predictable. It’s why you don’t need to think about which way to go on your drive to work, you’ve done it so many times you are relying on your ‘fast brain’ to do the work for you. I.e. it’s automatic.

Whilst your fast brain is taking care of things, you don’t need to think about the commute to work. Whilst that is good on the one hand because it allows you to think about other things, it doesn’t do much for ‘living in the present’ and experiencing life.

When we’ve done things the same way for a while we just do them automatically. By mixing it up a little, you can get back to living more in the present and enjoying the day a little more. It’s like if you took the scenic route to work, you’d be thinking more about the drive and where you were going. You probably notice the weather, the clouds, you’d be much more present.

That’s the same with changing up your start and end times. Start a little earlier or a little later, try different wake up times on for size. Experiment a little. You might even stumble onto a better way of doing things.

7. Regular Breaks

In the office this was easy. Every time you felt your focus dropping off you could swing your chair round and have a little chat. You could nip to the kitchen and go make a drink. You had lunch away from your desk so there is a proper break to be had there. However, when working from home it’s easy to not do those things. Some of them are just impossible.

In light of that, you need to make sure you are having regular breaks away from the computer. It’s important for your wellbeing and your eyes. I find myself having lunch at my desk for example which isn’t a good habit to get into. Having a physical break from the desk set up means you come back feeling refreshed with some better perspective.

These are just seven of the many things you can do to make working from home more enjoyable. There are a plethora of things we can and should do.

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