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How to Balance Self-Care And Productivity When Working From Home

At this point in the pandemic, virtually everyone has proposed their thoughts on how to stay productive as we shift towards working from home. Whether we’ve followed the prevailing advice or not, we’ve all probably settled into something resembling a routine, even if that’s a total lack of routine. It’s equally tempting to abandon all tasks to despair over the state of the world as it is to stuff our days with things to do to create a sense of normalcy.

For many of us, a seemingly endless list of tasks might be the one holdover from “normal” life. But we can’t work if we aren’t our best selves. Now more than ever, it’s important to listen to both your body and mind, and give them what they need to stay healthy and work towards your professional and personal goals.

Keep reading for some ways to bring self-care into your quarantine workflow without sacrificing productivity.


Start strong

I don’t just mean starting out with a to-do list of goals, bursting out of the gate like an empowered boss (which you are). While knowing what you want to accomplish is important, building in mindful time is also crucial, whether it’s doing some deep breathing or setting a mantra for the day. Check out this post for some ideas on positive habits to develop in the mornings.

Take a walk

As we’re all cooped up, getting bits of fresh air has become more important than ever. Taking ten minutes away from work to step outside for a short walk can do wonders for your mental health, as long as you follow appropriate social-distancing precautions.

For many of us, the world has shrunken to our homes in the last few months, but a change of scenery is still vital to help compartmentalize work and relaxation. Something as small as doing your work in a dedicated room or makeshift home office space, and then leaving when it’s time to do anything that’s not-work, might be able to flip the switches in your brain.

Put on your favorite playlist or podcast

If you’re anything like me, music is great background noise that also offers a chance to reflect your current mood. Podcast episodes also offer the opportunity to learn about virtually any topic from anywhere in the world. If you find music distracting while you’re trying to work, try playing a song while you’re taking a break and see if it helps you decompress.

Go at your own pace

Especially during these extra stressful times, limiting your comparisons to others is crucial. It’s important to remember that just because someone is bragging on social media about how many miles they’ve run, loaves of bread they’ve baked, Zoom meetings they’ve attended, or words they’ve written, productivity alone does not always equate to a healthy mindset.

Everyone is facing their unique set of circumstances, and whether you’re taking care of children who are adjusting to homeschool, elderly parents, or just yourself, there’s no reason you should be expected to diminish these strains on your capacity to be always “on”.

Don’t let someone else’s perceptions of what it means to be productive influence how you see yourself. It’s important to remember that most days may not make it possible to accomplish a large task, especially if you’re juggling many responsibilities or struggling with unemployment, and that’s perfectly okay.

Circumstances change what everyone is capable of producing on a given day. You are still valuable and accomplished as long as you’re moving forward, even if the gains are small.

Set boundaries

We’ve heard a lot about how our working environments and to-do lists have gotten a lot more flexible now that we’re working from home. But the flexibility also has a dark side.

Now that they don’t have a commute between home and work, many of my friends have noticed that it’s harder to leave work behind for the night (especially when connecting with friends and family happens through the same screen you’ve probably been working on all day). There’s simply no physical escape from the stress.

Burnout is real, and if left unexamined and unchecked it can drain all enjoyment from even the fun stuff. Something I’ve tried to do is accomplish my regular work-related tasks for the day within “normal” business hours, times when I would be focusing on it anyway. Leaving other times, like evenings, free let me give myself permission to relax and refresh to make sure tomorrow is just as fruitful.

As we all work on navigating shifting boundaries and being more forgiving towards ourselves as we mess them up, hopefully, these tips can help you bring some more balance into your daily routine.

Read more here on how to practice mindfulness at work so you can bring your most centered, empowered self to all areas of your life.