Despite the fact that most of the world is returning to “normal,” here in Asia we are still working through Covid and the most recent Omicron wave. Major cities within Mainland China are being locked down and Hong Kong continues to struggle to get control of the recent outbreak. While there is light at the end of the tunnel, many lawyers throughout Asia are still working from home as the pandemic continues to disrupt everyday life. The frustration and stress that we are all experiencing after two years of Covid, combined with working from home, can create a myriad of challenges. There may still be numerous distractions at home which may impact your organization, productivity and mental health. Even though we have all thought about the tips below, I wanted to send a reminder about things you can be doing and to remind you that taking care of yourself is of paramount importance.
Maintaining a routine is imperative. Maintain regular working hours and a similar routine as to when you were heading into the office. Start and finish the day as you normally would. Maintain what has worked so effectively from the office previously and try to keep some separation between “work” hours and “home” time. With the demands of the law, it is too easy to blur this line and have work become all-consuming.
2. Create a dedicated working environment
Everyone’s home is different and flats in Asia tend to be smaller, however, it is imperative to establish an area of your home as your workspace. Set it up as comfortably as possible and operate as if you were in the office. This will assist with focus and keep you locked in to work. It will also signal to others in your home that you are working – do not disturb!
3. Minimize distractions
It is easy to become distracted while working from home, even more so if others are working or studying in the home. It is important to establish rules around minimizing distractions. (Easier said than done if you have smaller children!) This may include resisting discussions during work time, but perhaps setting aside time to enjoy lunch with your family.
4. Take breaks
It can be easier to take breaks in the office than when working from home as you can casually chat with colleagues, grab a coffee, and move around the office when you are work. At home there may be less distractions if you live alone so it is important to monitor your activity levels and move around from time to time. Use your smart watch to remind you to move and don’t forget to stretch. Most importantly, if you are feeling isolated and overwhelmed, reach out to family or a friend for help.
5. Reclaim your extra time
You are no longer taking time to get to and from work each day so use the extra time to your advantage. Consider using this time for exercise, social media or time with the family. You may be dealing with greater email as colleagues can’t just simply drop by your desk so build in time on your calendar to focus specifically on answering emails. Regardless, do your best to set boundaries and try to take a walk or exercise when possible. Don’t let work take over your life just because you are home!
6. Catch up time
Working remotely has eliminated the time we get to spend with our colleagues. Do you miss the buzz of the office and being able to grab a cup of coffee with your peers? Consider regular catch ups with your colleagues on Zooms in order to check-in to see how they are doing. I know we are all tired of Zoom meetings but again, it is critical to stay in touch as we manage the stress of the current situation. Seeing friends and connecting with others will help lift your spirits. We are all in this together, so make an effort to connect with family and friends and to see how they are coping!
Balancing work and taking care of your mental health is more important than ever as we have been fighting this fight for over two years and it is exhausting. If you are struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out as I’m always happy to talk!