By Gretchen Powell
Those who have been following this column might already be aware that I recently began a work from home job – my dream job! – which has essentially turned my healthy-living life on its heels. No longer sticking to the routine of a 9 – 5 means that other parts of my routine have gotten a little off-kilter, too. But while it’s not easy to resist the need to check my work email at all hours of the day and night, but thankfully I’ve established a few tricks to help keep things balanced.
1. Schedule everything.
My Google calendar is my life these days. Every call, every meeting, every possible lunch plan gets penciled in. I actually keep two accounts, one linked to my work email and one to my personal email, that show up on the same calendar, so that I can always see what’s going on that day.
2. No, really, schedule everything.
Schedule your hair appointments, massages, when to go to the gym, even when to take a shower (at least in the beginning). You’ll be amazed at how quickly time gets away from you and how the things that were such an easy part of your routine when you had an office job can get quickly pushed aside, especially those that pertain to wellness. I know some coworkers who even put their favorite TV shows in their calendar, just because they’re that much more likely to forget about them if it’s not scribed in the Almighty Google Cal. And, as we’ve already discussed, mental wellness is just as important as the physical stuff, so if your sanity comes from the new weekly episode of NCIS, then more power to you!
3. Enforce a “laptops down” rule.
When you love your job, it doesn’t really seem like much of a sacrifice to work, well, all the time. But the fact of the matter is that it isn’t healthy to devote every waking moment to your job. A little bit of separation is key. And one of the biggest tips I received from a coworker in how to make sure that you get at least a modicum of family time, couple time, or even just “you” time in every night is to create (and enforce!) a “laptops down” rule. At a certain time every night, you shut that laptop and don’t open it back up for the rest of the night.
For me, this particular rule extends to “screens down,” since it’s just as easy to obsess about work from my phone. It’s not a perfect system, of course, since there will always be times when you suddenly remember something important that you simply must take care of right away, but it’s a good guideline to live by.
With these three rules in place, I’ve been able to regain a semblance of the routine I had pre-working from home. And, of course, the longer I’ve been at it, the better I’m getting at self-regulating my time. But as a beginner, as tedious as relentlessly scheduling myself might have been, it definitely helped me keep things in perspective – and on track.
Gretchen Powell is a fitness and healthy living blogger in Falls Church. She is not a registered dietitian, nutritionist, or medical doctor, and a medical professional should be consulted before undertaking dramatic diet changes. For more, visit honeyishrunkthegretchen.com.