The greater infiltration of work into the home creates greater challenges in taking care of oneself. Before I began working from home, my 20-minute commute allowed me to decompress from the office and enjoy a few minutes to myself. Now, it’s a 15-foot walk from my office to being with my family. I found that my need for self-care at work has exponentially grown in this season.
When I neglect office self-care, I’m reactive and short, my quality decreases and I enjoy work less. Consistent self-care at work allows me to function optimally — focusing on the important matters, responding well and producing quality work while enjoying my job. Here are five practical ways to care for yourself during the workday to stay at your best, even if you never leave your house.
Schedule 45-minute meetings. No rule exists that you must schedule one-hour meetings. A 45-minute meeting provides ample time to meet, engage, create action items and prepare for one’s next task. This meeting length gives us purpose to focus and use the time wisely, but it also allows time for jotting down post-meeting notes, a few minutes to catch our breath, go to the bathroom, and prepare for the next meeting. Forty-five-minute meetings have encouraged me to be on topic, focused, prepared and present for every meeting.
Start and end on time. This idea sounds simple yet is profoundly difficult. Learn to moderate meetings effectively, such as starting on time when someone is late, beginning to wrap up with 10 minutes left and deferring last-minute question for the next meeting. These actions create a culture of respect for people’s time, leading to more effective and less stressful meetings.
Take a full, non-working lunch break. Humans are not machines. We are unable to function at peak performance for eight hours straight. It’s physically impossible. The brain needs regular breaks to recharge. Specific breaks throughout the day focused on non-work items gives the brain relief from constant activity. This results in greater efficiency and creativity when re-engaging in work tasks. Lunch breaks are a natural break to allow the brain to recharge, returning to work with renewed energy and attention.
Schedule white space. Business is not about meetings, it’s about people and results. Spending time in meetings all day prevents you from tackling the ideas and tasks created in meetings. Schedule “white space” in your calendar for you to work on action items or development of ideas. Decline meetings during that time, providing opportunity to prepare, reflect, execute and perform the range of necessary tasks to excel.
Connect with colleagues. Business revolves around relationships because we need relationships. The new culture of working from home has changed many of our natural methods of connecting with co-workers. Stopping by someone’s desk or lingering after meetings is difficult virtually. Yet those relationships make meaning, purpose and comradery at the office. Get creative when it comes to connecting. Schedule virtual coffees, ask someone to virtually stick around after a meeting, take a socially appropriate walking meeting, etc. These moments allow us to feel connected with others, which refreshes us to take on new challenges at work.
Take time today to brainstorm ways you can better take care of yourself at work. Whether you’re back in your office or not, taking these steps can help you become a better person at work and in other areas of your life. Model to your co-workers how healthy self-care can make you a better worker and a better person. Slow down, take a breath and remember that you matter today.
Chris Simon is the founder of Elmry, a Bentonville company dedicated to building leaders across the world. He can be reached at [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.