Not the Lifestyle You Imagined?

So, you have set up your home office and you have fallen into a daily routine, but is your routine a healthy one?  If you are like many, your daily routine goes something like this:

Roll out of bed
Grab some coffee
Check your email and calendar while shoveling breakfast down
Wander over to your workspace
Get to work

After a morning of calls, video meetings, and emails you realize its noon and you haven’t even brushed your teeth.  The rest of the day and well into the evening goes much the same way, with you pausing just long enough to grab something to eat.  Days start earlier and continue later now that you are working from home.  There is always something that needs to be done. 

Sound familiar?

How about this one:

Roll out of bed
Shower and dress
Wake up the kids
Grab some coffee
Break up the kids’ fight
Make breakfast
Convince kids to eat breakfast while shoveling down your own food
Glance at the calendar, realize you’re late for a Zoom call
Jump on the Zoom call while answering an email
Jump off of one Zoom call to join another
Answer at least five questions from the kids while on Mute
End the last morning call
Grab a quick lunch before racing back to your desk for the next call
and on and on it goes

I get it, there is always something that needs your attention . . . there is always another issue to handle . . . there is always another fire to put out.  The question is, when will it stop?  I bet you already know the answer – IT WILL NEVER STOP.

Working from home has the potential to create the lifestyle you always wanted, but this is definitely not it.  Don’t panic, let’s look at your routine and see where we can improve it.

Both examples above have the same problem.  They both allowed work to creep into non-work time.  When you work outside of home, you have a destination that defines work.  When your work destination is your home, it becomes easy lose the line that defines work time.  It can start with something as simple as quickly answering an email during breakfast.  Next, it’s a phone call after business hours, then a Zoom meeting at 6:30am, then a call during dinner, then a meeting on Saturday, and on it goes.  Before you know it, you are eating all your meals at your desk, your only exercise is walking from the bedroom to your workspace, and you no longer know what day it is.  That’s called work creep and it could be the biggest unhealthy habits that you need to guard against.

Work creep can cause burn-out, weight gain, stress, exhaustion, depression, martial problems, and a host of other issues.  It sneaks into your daily routine in little ways and expands your workday into an all-consuming cycle.  The interesting thing about work creep is that it is easily justifiable:

“It’s just one email”
“It’s only this one time”
“It’s an urgent matter that must be handled”
“It’s okay, I’m not doing anything right now anyway”
“It will be quick”

So, how do you get out of this cycle and reduce work creep? 

First, set business hours.  Whatever those hours are, that is when you work.  If something comes up outside of those hours, it has to wait.  This takes A LOT of discipline.  You may need to silence your email notifications, change ringtones to differentiate personal calls from work calls, and walk away from your desk.

Second, block out the time on your calendar.  Most calendars have the ability to mark time as unavailable.  Use that feature to block non-business hours so you (and anyone else) aren’t tempted to book meetings during that time.

Third, know that emergencies do come up when you have to work outside of business hours.  It’s okay every once in a while.  Just know that emergencies should be few and far between, not daily. 

Finally, schedule some time for physical exercise at the beginning or end of the day.  Treat the time as a non-negotiable appointment that you must keep.  It will help you feel less burnt out and will improve your productivity during business hours.

If you need help reworking your routine, send me a quick note and let’s chat.