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by Kaitlin McManus | June 24, 2020

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Many of us have been working from home for three months—and it’s been tough, for a multitude of reasons. (Anyone else’s neighbor setting off fireworks at 4 a.m.?) Three months is also more than enough time to develop some bad habits while working from home. We all know what we’re supposed to be doing, but knowing what you’re supposed to do and actually doing it are two different things. So let’s take a look at some of these habits that some of us may have developed over the past few months and how we can break them.

Not Adhering to a Morning Routine

While being able to roll out of bed (or sometimes not) and go to work, sans commute, may sound like a perk, it’s actually not the best habit. Everyone has a morning routine because it’s such an important part of the day, whether that routine is yoga and a paleo breakfast or a Pop-tart and a gallon of coffee while watching Brooklyn 99 reruns (no judgement here, whatever works for you). Your morning routine sets up your day, so it’s important to go through it as regularly as possible. If you just hop out of bed at 8:58 and log on, it’ll feel like you’re spending your entire life working, which no one wants. If you find yourself falling into this pattern, try altering your sleep schedule—get to bed a little earlier so you can wake up a little earlier. Even 45 minutes to shower and eat some breakfast is better than no routine at all. Make sure you’re taking time for yourself whenever you can.

Never Logging Off

Speaking of always working, do you find yourself logging off well after you would normally stop working when you were at the office? Or do you find yourself logging on later in the evening when, normally, you might be out doing something fun? Unless you’ve got a project that just can’t wait until the morning, this is an unhealthy work pattern—again, because it means you’re spending your whole life working. Do what you have to do for the workday, of course, but please log off at an appropriate time, just for your own mental health. To help with this, try scheduling an activity of some sort for not long after you hope your workday to end. I, for example, schedule book club meetings and family Zoom calls at 6:00 or 6:30, because I’ll have to stop working to attend. Now, of course, sometimes things get crazy and cancellations must be made, but this tactic can help you weigh your priorities: Is getting ahead on that long-term project really worth blowing off your loved ones, or can it wait for tomorrow?

Getting Distracted

A friend of mine sent me a Snapchat of herself making homemade marinara—at 2:45 on a Tuesday. I asked her if she shouldn’t be working, which got me labelled as a killjoy. But, for real, home is where our distractions live—whether that’s our families or roommates, our TVs, or other hobbies and “fun stuff.” Breaks are important, but it’s not hard to take a 10-minute break and have it go on for a bit longer than expected. If you find your breaks extending themselves while you aren’t looking, try setting a timer to remind yourself to get back at it. This can help you make the most of your break, knowing that there’s something that will call you back to work when it’s time.

Snacking More and Not Exercising

Going to the gym on my way home from work used to be part of my routine—but, with gyms and the office closed, it was harder to keep exercising as regularly as I used to. Similarly, my roommate took up stress-baking in the face of the pandemic, which means that there’s been no shortage of sweet treats in my apartment. I know I’m not the only one with these problems—life runs the risk of getting much more sedentary when you eliminate most of your “going outside” things. Make sure that you’re getting the same level of exercise (or more, if you’re feeling ambitious) as you were in February, whether you prefer running, Pilates, online dance parties, or anything in between. Similarly, try to snack on healthy things. It’s summer, which means most fruits are as tasty as possible right now. Also, pretty much anything you cook for yourself out of real foods is going to be better for you than takeout or processed foods, so keep some homemade meals and treats in the mix, too!

Working from home may be old hat for some, but for the rest of us, it’s been a major transition. It can be easy to slip into the same, not-that-great patterns day after day, particularly without people around to keep us accountable. So take a look at your work-from-home habits: Is there anything that might work better if you did things differently? If so, take charge and alter your habits!

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