Mental Health

The psychological effects of working from home


“Can there really be any major psychological effects of working from home on a person?” you may ask. Normally with the occasional stay-at-home workday once every few months — probably not. But then the pandemic hit.

In this article, I share my own experience with working from home and the psychological effects it had on me, as well as explore the steps I took and keep taking to stay balanced during these trying times.

At this time I was enjoying my freelance strategic consultancy life. I’d obviously heard about the on-goings in China and other parts of the globe, but the news seemed like something too far away from my reality. Boy, was I wrong.

As soon as the lockdowns began I saw an influx of friends and business partners bringing up the topic of how to manage work from home. My first reaction was puzzlement — was it really that different? As a freelancer, I’d grown accustomed to splitting time between my daily tasks and leisure activities while in the comfort of my home. I’d never had any problems balancing my life this way.

It was only until my partner started working from our home, too, that the question of how to cope with this situation even came up. The dynamics had changed — I was no longer alone. The end of my workday was no longer marked by the moment she came home. We both had to bring our work into our living space. And that changed a lot because I suddenly realized that the 4 walls of my home had become my whole life.

At this point it hit me — if I was about to keep my mental health and relationship in check, I needed to find ways to switch off my brain completely. I was not about to let those 4 walls close in on me.

Once I wrapped my head around the fact that life most likely wasn’t going to go back to normal in a month or two, I took up researching effective time management. I was already good at compartmentalizing, but after reading “Make Time” by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, I realized there were still things I needed to improve. The main takeaway I got was to make time for everything in my day — work and leisure alike. And on top of that, I also had to find my release — something I could do to clear my head and forget about the challenges I was facing.

I found my escape in gadgets. I have a real love for photography, more precisely — air photography and droning. I also enjoy gaming (team Xbox) and cycling. Luckily for me, 2 out of the 3 are semi-solo activities and require being outdoors more often than not. I got to combine getting some fresh air while socially distancing and being safe. Win-win!

Some might argue that gaming can make people nervous and jittery because of its competitive nature and the effect the fast frame rates have on the eyes. Sure, there’s some truth to that. I would recommend ending your gaming session at least 2 hours before bedtime.

Another by-product of cycling is a lot of free time to listen. I’ve been able to ramp up my Audible game, and basically devour audiobooks by the dozen. Being active while learning new things and expanding your mind is something that really makes me happy.

We’ve recently moved offices, and I still haven’t had the chance to check it out in person. It’s still sometimes hard for me to separate work deadlines from my free time since all of that happens at home. But DeskTime helps a lot with that. And so does the fact that I have my 3 hobbies to look forward to every afternoon. Besides — one truly unexpected and lucky coincidence is the fact that my colleagues at DeskTime also share my passions of droning, cycling, and gaming.

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