10 Bad Work from Home Habits You Didn’t Realize You Started— And How to Fix Them

updated Jan 12, 2021
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Credit: Sylvie Li

Let’s be honest: The honeymoon phase of working from home — from the novelty of the pajama pants-and-dress shirt combo to the lack of commuting — is over. As the months of settling into working from home dragged on, I began to notice some less-than-ideal habits creeping into my daily routine 

Whether you’ve been working after hours and weekends, not eating enough, or forgetting to move around all day long, there’s probably some element of your work routine that could use a reboot right now. Here are 10 bad habits that have likely crept up in the past few months — and how to fix them. 

1. Not organizing your time 

According to a November report by The Economist, people reported working  30 minutes longer in April and May 2020 compared to January through March of last year. Working after-hours and on weekends has become more common, and the minutes you thought you gained by not commuting may have come back to haunt you as paperwork or video calls. 

While setting your boundaries when it comes to work is an important skill to have, it may not be your boss’s fault that your hours have begun to creep up. Just because you’re home almost 24/7 does not mean you should be working during all of those hours. Set firm boundaries with yourself — and when the weekend rolls around or your shift ends, turn the computer off and allow yourself to actually take your well-earned downtime.

2. Forgetting to drink water

While it’s not true that you need to drink a full eight cups of water a day, there’s no denying that staying hydrated provides plenty of benefits. To keep track of my water consumption, I downloaded an app on my phone called Plant Nanny; every time I drink a cup of water, I get to water my electronic plant. This way I feel responsible for a pixelated plant and also keep track of how much water I am drinking. 

3. Not giving your pets attention when you’re working

Working from home has likely left your pets feeling pleasantly surprised that you’re home all the time. But you might get too distracted to pay them attention during the work day. Take time to play with them, pet them, and take them for walks. Science has proven time and again that petting your animals can reduce stress. 

4. Not working in time to decompress or meditate

Whether you use an app like Headspace or take time to do things your own way, scheduling in a time to relax and be present can be extremely beneficial in the long run. I started a 30-day yoga journey with Adriene Mishler and while I have never been a yoga person, committing to a daily practice means that time is now something I look forward to. It relaxes my mind and helps me focus on my breathing. 

5. Not taking a moment for yourself in the morning before work begins

Working from home might have allowed you to press the snooze button a few more times than usual, but waking up and starting work immediately might throw you off your game. (One study found that faking a commute by taking a daily morning walk can help boost your mood throughout the day.) I swear by waking up 30 minutes or so before my work begins to have some quiet time without screens and phone calls. I usually drink a cup of tea with honey and read the newspaper for 20 minutes. 

Credit: Minette Hand

6. Working through your lunch break 

When working long hours it is important to have an energizing pick-me-up during the day. If you feel like you do not have time to eat lunch or feel like you will be seen as lazy if you tell your supervisor that you are taking a lunch break, there are plenty of ways to reclaim your lunch break in a productive way. 

Credit: I Spy DIY

7. Working all day without breaks

If you feel like an hour-long break is not feasible for whatever reason, set reminders for small breaks throughout the day. Make sure to step away from your designated work space and your computer when you do so. Try walking around your block, banging out a few jumping jacks, or cleaning the dishes that piled up from your lunch. Anything counts! 

Credit: Minette Hand

8. Trying to keep the old rituals and routines you relied on when you went to an office

You probably had one or two routines at the office that just don’t translate to your WFH life. That’s OK — make new ones! These can be simple things like making your first coffee (and second, and third) at a certain hour, going for a short walk, or calling a friend or relative for a quick afternoon catch-up session. 

9. Too much screen time

Staring at a screen all day, in the simplest terms, is bad for your eyesight. It can cause a long list of things as Vox notes, including eye strain, dry eyes, and more long-term problems. Whenever it occurs to you, move your eyes from your computer to something far away. Stare out of your window and watch people on the street or look at something far away in your apartment for a few seconds (I’ve found that focusing on my breathing as I do so helps). You can also follow the 20-20-20 rule, which tells you that for every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen you should look at something that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds. 

10. Not making time to move

No matter your work-from-home setup, it is extremely important to move around. If the weather outside is rough, you can try pacing around your apartment and surveying each room as you go, or try a simple stretching routine to get your blood flowing. There are plenty of free tutorials on YouTube, or you can fire up a workout app for a quick routine — even 10 minutes counts!