Thanks to COVID-19, more Chicagoans are working from home than ever. Prior to the pandemic, working from home was considered a luxury – who wouldn’t want to eliminate the time spent getting ready in the morning and commuting to the office? However, finding work-life balance when both share the same physical space, especially at a time when social distancing guidelines limit many stress-relieving activities, is difficult.

Staying focused and productive when it comes to work is a healthy distraction right now. At the same time, you’ll want to retain the same sense of comfort and relaxation that home normally brings you and eliminate the stressors that are designed to be left at the office. Use the following work from home tips to maintain your work-life balance in the coming weeks.

Location, Location, Location

Just like a home search revolves around location, so does the right office space inside that home. Find a dedicated and comfortable spot to work that you can associate with your job and leave when you’re off the clock. Try not to work from your laptop on the couch or in bed. If you don’t already have a desk, sit on a stool at your kitchen counter so you can stay upright and alert during your 9-to-5. Even a folding table and chair in a dedicated corner of your home can do the trick. If your work area is located in your living room or bedroom instead of a separate room, organize it at the end of every workday so you can start fresh in the AM.

Bring The Outdoors In

If you do not have any greens in your designated work from home space, consider adding some indoor plants to create a more inviting and creative atmosphere. Not only do indoor plants boost your home’s indoor air quality (IAQ), a pop of color never hurt anyone. Amazon launched its own garden shop in 2017 if you prefer to have your greenery shipped. Or, you can pick up a bouquet of flowers on your next planned grocery run. Just make sure to disinfect the packaging after you bring it home.

Repurpose Your Commute

A major perk of working from home is ditching the commute. Use the time you would have normally spent riding the L to the office completing a workout, meditating, or simply getting a few extra minutes of shuteye. Getting ample sleep is more important than ever for both mental and physical wellbeing.

Show Your Face

When possible, use video over the standard conference call to help create more interactions and avoid loneliness. Zoom, BlueJeans, and Skype are all popular conferencing apps that can help you feel more connected to your coworkers and boost collaboration. Plus, speaking face to face (virtually) will keep your mind focused on the meeting itself instead of checking emails or scrolling through the latest coronavirus updates.

Create Lists

Every morning, create a list of what you will deliver by the end of the day. Write your goals down the night before so you can dive straight into work in the morning. If you don’t have a physical notepad handy, try “Google Keep” in G Suite. Keep offers a variety of tools for taking notes, including text, lists, images, and audio. Evernote is another popular app that you can sync across all your devices and share with others in your household or office.

Stick to Your Schedule

If you have a demanding job and already struggle to leave work at the office, it can be tempting to extend your working hours well into the evening. But, it’s important to not let home become a stressful environment. Although social activities are limited right now, you can still decompress after the workday and on weekends with the following safe & fun activities:

Have a Game Night

Get Ahead of Spring Cleaning

Cook Your Favorite Staples in Your Kitchen

Have an At-Home Date Night

Read a Book

Start Spring Home Maintenance

Brainstorm Ideas for Home Improvement Projects

Workout at Home

Get Rest + Strengthen Your Immune System