In another of our series of guest blogs Dr Valeria Lo Iacono shares her tips for keeping well whilst working from home.
Working from home certainly has its benefits as I am sure you will agree. Isn’t it delightful to be able to choose your own work hours, not have to join the rush-hour madness in your car, and to be in control of your own destiny!
With these benefits comes a need also though to ensure that you find that work to life balance, particularly so in this digital era as we spend countless hours sat in front of a computer and spend many other hours on digital devices.
What we need is to think about our own digital wellness and how we manage our use of technologies as home-workers.
Just to note though, this is NOT to suggest that we have to use these technologies less, but that we simply manage our usage better. So let’s look at some simple tips for managing our digital wellness when working from home.
1. Leaving Your Desk and Physically Moving
How easy is it to let the hours fly by and find that you have moved very little except to shift position in the seat as you sit in front of your computer?
Gone are the days when you might walk to work or at least go for a walk with colleagues at lunch time and sit in the park.
Many health experts say that we should walk 10,000 steps a day and yet, as we sit and work digitally from home, we might be lucky to do 100 steps right?
The easiest way to ensure that you get away from your computer is to set an alarm to go off on your phone twice a day for when you must do some form of activity away from your computer (I do this for 11am and 3pm). Stand up and stretch, get down on the floor and do some press-ups, walk up and down the stairs a couple of times, or go for a walk.
It also gives your eyes the chance to refocus on something other than your digital screen and it helps your body remember what movement feels like!
Better still, make a point that you must leave the house for lunch breaks, even if it means walking around the block one time.
2. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and Creating a Positive Footprint
Sometimes, we may compare ourselves unfavorably with other people online or feel overwhelmed by the amount of information available. It can make you feel better if you keep in mind the following points:
i) Be considerate in how you share certain things (especially if you have a presence online for your own business). When sharing things about yourself, you might want to be extra-considerate towards other people.
Avoid pointless debates (you will very rarely change other people’s opinions anyway) and avoid being drawn into discussions, games and so on that do little if anything to help your work and online experience.
The best solution I find for this is to create a photo-montage that represents what you are trying to achieve with your online work, and place it within sight range of where you work, so that you always remember the focus and goal.
ii) What you see posted online is usually edited and carefully chosen – There are programs that can be used to doctor images and some people only post positive things about them. So, do not feel that you have to be perfect all the time because, in real life, nobody is.
iii) The ability to be connected with people globally and very quickly can be both a blessing and a curse. Think, for example, of the fear of missing out (FOMO) or the disconnection from the physical world.
Being connected globally and being able to access information and resources in real time is one of the big benefits brought by digital technologies as it opens up a world of opportunities.
However, sometimes it can be difficult to keep up, which can lead to us spending all of our time in front of digital devices ignoring the physical world just around us.
Just remember that it is not humanly possible to keep up with everything, no matter how hard you try as technology will always be faster than us. So, you might as well disconnect sometimes and relax.
3. Avoiding the Email Spiral
By the ‘email spiral’ I mean that we can get caught up in spending so much time on emails and this can cause us to fail to complete key tasks and also might reduce the time we have to spend on non-digital tasks.
Avoid checking emails 10 times a day and you WILL find the time to go for a walk, to spend 15 minutes pulling out weeds in the garden, or time to do some press-ups. (I could only do 2 press-ups when I started and am up to sets of 25 at a time now so it can be done. I never ever believed I would do more than 5 in one go).
Unless you already only check emails twice a day try to only check emails when you first start work and then only after you have at least completed one major task that you really need to get done. Also, for better digital wellness (to avoid conflicts and to save time)
- Think before sending
- Write something meaningful in the subject line
- Write short paragraphs and be straight to the point and clear
- If you need a quick answer, do not send email after email. Use the phone if it is really urgent
- DO NOT use the ‘reply to all’ feature to reply, unless your message is relevant to everyone
4. Increasing Non-Digital Free Time
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best and one of the most effective techniques I have for improving my digital wellness is to create non-digital free time. This might be time, for example, to go to the gym or to sit and read in the garden.
One of the key things to do is to be VERY clear as to exactly what your goal/s for the day are i.e. exactly what it is you are setting out to achieve.
This needs to be done the evening before so that when you log-on the next day you will already be very clear as to exactly what you need to do from the start. You wake up and start the day off, in other words, with a very clear focus of what you want to achieve when going online.
Make sure to create a maximum of 5 ideas and at least one of these ideas should be a large i.e. main task. And all the points (3 to 5 is best) should be listed as simple bullet-points.
Write those 3-5 points on paper or a notepad and keep it beside your desk. This list will also help you to focus and avoid drifting towards checking emails as we discussed in the last point.
Written by Dr Valeria Lo Iacono who owns Symonds training, a Somerset, UK based company and she also writes about dance heritage on her other site World Dance Heritage. In her spare time Valeria teaches belly dance, loves to travel to learn about new dance traditions and as a Sicilian has a passion for food and wine.