Working from home can seriously deplete your energy levels over time. Studies have shown that many remote workers are working longer hours than ever before. Plus, we’re all dealing with chronic stress and burnout due to the pressures posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This feeling of isolation is familiar to work-at-home moms, who are used to a lack of social connections in an office environment. The good news is that it’s possible to stay high energy, enjoy your work, and connect with co-workers and friends. Even while working in a home office.
The key to achieving all of this is to stay mindful and foster meaningful connections with friends and loved ones so that you can stay centered while working from home.
The Importance of Mindfulness
We mentioned that mindfulness is crucial to staying connected, and this is especially true when you’re working in an online environment.
Simply put, mindfulness is a choice to be and stay present in the here and now. For you, that could entail being present in the moment, in a meeting, during a task, or simply on your breaks. Research has shown that mindfulness can benefit virtually every aspect of our lives, regardless of whether we are working on a team project or meeting or completing a task alone.
Pausing, checking in with yourself and with others, and reserving time for brief periods of reflection can reduce your stress levels and connect you to your purpose. And to those you are working with. You’ll be more present and attentive and feel better for it.
How to Stay Mindful in an Online World
Most remote workers work in online work environments. It's challenging to stay mindful and present when working in a digital space, especially since you may be physically separated from your peers.
Difficult though it may be, it’s important to remember that online working doesn’t need to hinder your ability to be a strong and present leader. It shouldn't affect your ability to connect and empathize with your colleagues, and to foster a strong and respectful work culture. This is where mindfulness comes into the picture.
You can encourage mindfulness while you work from home by:
Defining your workspace in a specific area of your home so that you can concentrate without too much distraction
Pacing yourself and making an effort to eat regular meals and take frequent breaks. Being compassionate towards your own needs will help you foster compassion around the needs of others, too.
Setting boundaries to prevent you from over-committing to tasks you cannot handle and then suffering from burnout later down the line
Regularly pausing and taking cognizance of where your thinking mind is and if you are ruminating on any distractions or anxieties
Deliberately redirecting your awareness towards the situation, task, people, and contexts that you are participating in virtually
Reserving your own judgments, agendas, and narratives to offer your authentic presence online and to make eye contact and receptive expressions during virtual meetings.
Practicing self care at home. Balance your remote work life with adequate sleep, healthy meals and snacks, physical activity, and pursuing your passions
Minimize Multitasking and Be Present Instead
There may be a thousand distractions calling to you at any given time while you work from home. The kids may need fetching from school, laundry might need folding, and the kitchen could desperately need cleaning, among a dozen other pressing tasks. It can feel tempting to tackle all of these distractions while attempting to be present online. But multitasking rarely leads to a job well done.
Offering your full presence at work is crucial. If you want to inspire trust and motivation in your peers, you need to be mindful of how you are when you interact with them. Are you distracted, rushed, or inattentive? Is your mind on your shopping list or calendar and not on the task or issue at hand?
Taking a moment to assess your emotional and physical state before entering a new meeting will allow you to improve your leadership with others and bring constructive, reassuring, and motivated energy to the table.
Leading by Example
It’s often easy to notice when a participant in a meeting is otherwise engaged. They may seem bored or distracted, or maybe visibly checking their phone, doodling, or sending an unrelated email. Being mindful and connected during meetings will allow you to lead by example. You’ll also promote a more constructive environment in which work-related matters get resolved.
Try having your camera on during remote meetings and ask your peers to do the same. Establish eye contact regularly and use your posture and body language to convey openness and interest during conversations with others. This might help to minimize distractions, such as phone and email notifications and music, so that you can give your team your full attention.
Shifting your attention to how you are acting in a given moment won’t mean that you’ll be too focused on yourself to get a job done. Each of these shifts in your awareness will only take a few seconds to perform, but they will have a significant impact on your own state of mind and how other people connect with you, too.
Be In The Now, Now
The next time you find your mind wandering during a virtual meeting, catch yourself and take a second to view the present moment with perspective. Ask yourself what is important right now, what you want to achieve, and if you’re giving this important situation or task your undivided attention.
The more you do this, the easier you will find it to bring your mind back to the present moment and anchor your awareness in the here and now. Relax. Breathe deeply. Reach out to your co-workers or managers for help if you need it.
Practicing mindfulness and attempting to stay connected while working from home can boost your mood and improve your psychological health. It will go a long way towards ensuring that you can handle your workload productively while minimizing stress and anxiety.