10 tricks for breaking up the monotony of working from home

For better or for worse, working from home is the new normal. While many may be slowly returning to office life, some are not. Hybrid work models and remote work seem as if they’re here to stay, pandemic or not.

After more than a year of working from home, you’ve probably invested in that comfortable desk chair or those fancy noise-canceling headphones, but have you fully adapted to remote work? Are you giving yourself the breaks you need to stay focused in your home office?

Regardless of your answer, breaking up the typical work-from-home routine is key for your mental health and professional productivity. Here are some of the best ways to do so.

1. Take a walk or exercise

You’re probably not walking to the subway anymore, or from the parking garage to your office, so get those steps in while listening to music or your favorite podcast. Exercise is an easy way to get fresh air and break up your day. And, you may actually be able to escape at different times of the day, avoiding that annoying 7:00 pm gym rush.

Whether it’s a quick yoga or stretch session, a walk around the block, or a full-on gym routine, take some time during the day to escape your home office and move your body. You’ll come back refreshed and ready to take on the rest of your day.

2. Utilize audio throughout your day for a mental break

Whether it’s brushing your teeth or preparing your coffee, use apps like Spotify, Blinkist, or elocance to listen to whatever it was that you used to listen to during your morning commute. Choose between podcasts, music, your emails, audio books, and beyond. Either way, use audio to complement your morning or afternoon routine.

3. Take some time for lunch or coffee

Don’t just sip coffee or at your desk. Instead, read a book, smell some flowers, go out to lunch, or cook. Step away from your desk and focus on some time away from work. Actual breaks are necessary and will ensure you come back to your desk ready to work once again.

4. Participate in a guided meditation

There’s no better way to clear your mind than a quick guided meditation. Lay down on your sofa or if you’re really tight on time, just sit in your work chair and close your eyes. Meditations run from just a couple of minutes to 20 or 30, so take whatever time you need to detox your mind.

5. Read a book

Whether it’s professional, self help, or even a juicy romance novel, take a few minutes out of your day to read. It will get your mind off work (it’s near impossible to read for pleasure and think about other things) and give you the brain refresh and boost you need.

6. Work on self-development goals

Block some time in your calendar to create and work on self-development goals. This can be anything from organizing your desk to practicing a second language to taking a professional online development course.

7. Consider microlearning

Microlearning refers to small doses of focused skills that help you learn quickly and efficiently. You might only spend 10 minutes a day on microlearning, but because it’s so effective, you’ll learn a new skill quickly.

One of the best ways to do this is through the new app Uptime, which features five-minute knowledge hacks to help you skill up fast.

8. Call a coworker

No, not a Zoom or video call, which can often leave you mentally or physically fatigued. Pick up the phone for a good, old-fashioned phone call (or at least, a FaceTime audio) and speak to your coworker about work (or personal topics) without having to use that mental energy to interpret nonverbal cues or look attentive or fancy on camera.

9. Use your previous commute time for something you love

Remember that 45-minute period you used to spend on the metro or driving? Well, that time is yours for the taking when you work for home. Don’t use it to work more. Instead, use it for something fun, exciting, or necessary: organize your email for a more productive day, spend time with your family, cook, read, exercise or even sleep!

You can use the time for the same thing each day (eg, a gym routine or walk), break it up day-to-day, or create monthly or weekly themes. Themes can be anything from fitness goals to self-care to painting. Get creative and reclaim your former commute time!

10. Switch up your workspace

Yes, we know you’ve finally gotten your home office organized, but sometimes, a brief change of scenery can really boost your energy. Whether it’s taking one afternoon a week to work from a coffee shop or simply taking your computer to the dining room or patio for an hour a day, changing up your environment can change your outlook and help you see things in a whole new light, leading to sharper focus and higher productivity.

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