Authors share their mindfulness tips for working from home

How to dress, stay fit and avoid the distracting news cycle while you adjust to doing business from your living room.

Ryan MacEachern/Penguin

For those of us used to the rigours and routines of a office, the prospect of working from home for a prolonged period of time can be daunting. Once the initial shine wears off (wearing pajamas! Cooking elaborate lunches! Playing the music you want to listen to!), there’s a very real chance of back ache from an improvised work station, loneliness from a lack of water-cooler chat and restlessness from turning your living room into an office. 

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help – and many of them are simple. Here are some easy tips from our expert authors on making your working from home day more mindful:

Always prepare

'Here's a handy mnemonic to help you structure your working from home day and, make sure you remain calmer, happier and more productive: P.R.E.P.A.R.E

P:  Pen, paper, plan your day! Think about where you are going to work.

R: Routine – maintain one, as much as possible. Set your morning alarm. As soon as you get up, shower, grab a bite to eat, a coffee, get yourself dressed and be ready to start the day.

E: Exercise. Build in regular movement breaks, getting some extra steps or take the opportunity to fire up a 20 or 30 minute YouTube home workout.

P: Prioritise tasks for the day ahead. Don’t be overly ambitious with the tasks you set yourself. What do you absolutely have to get done today?

A: Avoid being pulled into constant news alerts that are likely to exacerbate any anxiety or uncertainty you are feeling and distract you from what you ought to be doing. 

R: Remain connected with colleagues. Pencil in time to reconnect with colleagues; phone check-ins, teleconference meetings or you may even choose to have a virtual lunch over Facetime/Skype.

E: Eat well and stay hydrated. Make sure you are taking regular breaks, eating a balanced diet and monitoring your caffeine consumption particularly as you edge into the afternoon/evening.'

Sarah Vohra, author of The Mind Medic 

Indulge in some meditative creativity

'Find safe, happy places online that you can go instead. I’ve set up Happy Place, a page full of free downloads, colouring tutorial videos and online drawing course. Colouring is such an easy way to be creative. I’ve drawn the outlines, all you need to do is bring the colour. You can find outlines to download here and if you sign up to my newsletter, you’ll get a free copy of The Wonder Book.'

From Johanna Basford, author of How to Draw

Dress to boost your mood

'I think it’s easy to stay in our PJs all day because we associate each place and each role in our lives with a uniform. We know that home is associated with the uniform of PJs, but they’re not associated with productivity.

You don’t have to wear a suit and tie in your home, but perhaps wearing a T-shirt and a blazer. It’s okay to wear the same outfit that you wore the day before, especially if you were only in it for just a few hours. Take the time to wear an outfit that you always wanted to wear to work, but perhaps due to your work restrictions, you’re not allowed to wear that particular outfit. Have fun and play in your closet during this time away from work: I believe that dressing up can enhance our mood, and help us get out of a funk.'

From Dawnn Karen, author of Dress Your Best Life

Become a digital minimalist

'Check one national and one local new source each morning. Then — and this is the important part — don’t check any other news for the rest of the day. Presumably, time-sensitive updates that affect you directly will arrive by email, or phone, or text.

This will be really hard, especially given the way we’ve been trained by social media companies over the past decade to view our phone as a psychological pacifier.

This doesn’t mean abandon technology. This current moment reveals many ways to deploy tech to strategically boost the noble steed. Our modern tools enable you to video conference more often with friends and family, or to dive into deep topics that have nothing to do with flu viruses, or to coordinate with your community and find out how you can be useful.'

Cal Newport, author of Digital Minimalism

Breathe better

'Consciously slowing down your breathing for a few minutes has been scientifically shown to shift your body into your parasympathetic (also known as ‘rest and digest’) response, helping you sleep better and to feel more calm. You can try this yourself with a technique called ‘coherence breathing’, which can help you to balance your nervous system in just a matter of minutes.

  • Inhale through your nose for six seconds.

  • Exhale through your nose for six seconds.

  • Repeat this cycle for at least 3 minutes, but there really is no limit as to how long you can go.

  • If six seconds feels like a struggle, reduce it to five or four seconds and get comfortable breathing at that rate first. You can then gradually build it up to six seconds.'

Richie Bostock, author of Exhale

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