People who work outside the home often establish routines that incorporate a bit of gym time in the mornings or evenings. When you work inside the house, though, you have the freedom to do whatever you want, and that lack of structure sometimes means that people neglect daily doses of physical fitness. Students, too, might not find time for exercise between going to class, working, and completing homework assignments. Students and telecommute workers have something in common, though, and it’s that they have more opportunities for exercise than they realize. Biochemistry student and entrepreneur Cody Andrew Moxam at the University of Dallas shares some advice regarding keeping your body healthy when you accomplish a significant amount of work outside of an office or classroom:
Set up your work environment
While working from your couch is an option, many home-workers prefer to have an established workspace where they can focus on their tasks and avoid distractions. Having a specified “office” can help you separate the parts of your day so that they do not blur together. If you are trying to work or study but your mind is still on your favorite TV show because you associate your couch with watching entertainment, then it could detriment your productivity.
So, what should your home work environment look like? Decorate it in such a way that it will enhance your focus. Make sure there is lots of natural light, and studies have found that looking at a plant now and then is good for your eyes. If you are not keen on sitting all day, then purchasing a standing desk that allows you to stay on your feet while still using your computer comfortably is a practical investment.
It never hurts to shake it up from time to time, either. Maybe you can study from your nearest library or work from a coworking space. Such places are beneficial for incorporating some social interaction into your day so that you don’t go stir-crazy with only yourself for company, and relocating can be refreshing for your mind.
Dress like people can see you
Even though you work from home and no one can see what you’re wearing (unless you are taking a video call, in which case you probably throw on a nice shirt and take it off again as soon as you hang up), dress like you’re going to work onsite. It helps you maintain a professional perception of yourself and establishes further boundaries between your workday and leisure time, which are especially essential when both occur in the same place.
Hajo Adam and Adam D. Galinsky from Northwestern University conducted a study about the psychology of clothing. They found:
“Wearing a lab coat described as a doctor’s coat increased sustained attention compared to wearing a lab coat described as a painter’s coat, and compared to simply seeing or even identifying with a lab coat described as a doctor’s coat. The influence of clothes thus depends on wearing them and their symbolic meaning.”
Your pajamas are for sleeping, and your mind remembers this even if you are trying to work. When you dress professionally regardless of who is looking (or not) at you, it can bolster your productivity.
Get some fresh air
Don’t stay cooped up inside all day. Find excuses to go outside and enjoy nature or get some exercise. Go for a walk, meet a friend for lunch (social interaction is healthy for you), do yoga in your yard, or something else that allows you to get a breath of fresh air.
On a related note, squeeze in a workout when you can. Spending some time on your fitness can reduce stress and improve your focus. Even if you are comfortable where you are, your body needs activity, so pencil in times when you can get up and get rid of some of your pent-up energy.
Plan your day
One of the hardest things about working or studying from home is that you are the only one holding yourself accountable. No boss or teacher is looming over your shoulder here, so if you don’t do the work at a reasonable pace, you’ll have to cram it in—and turn in a rushed result—to them once the time comes when they do expect something they have asked you for.
Plan your day and adhere to your schedule. As Cody Moxam practices, when you have your day set out before you (and it does not have to be identical, of course, shaking it up is good for you), it’s easier to manage your stress and not feel overwhelmed with the number of tasks on your plate. If you struggle with self-discipline, writing everything down can assist you with accountability.
Whether you are a student, entrepreneur, or employee, working from home has its advantages, but it’s imperative to remember to prioritize your health.