I’m Kit Kiefer, and I work with Stevens Point Orthopedics on some of their communications projects. And for the last several years, I’ve been working from home.
For those of you working from home for the first time, you’re probably uncertain about a lot of things. If you’re like me, one of the things you’re most uncertain about is, “How will I stay active when I’m confined to my home?”
Though you may not realize it, you can be pretty active when you’re working in an office setting. You’re always dashing upstairs for a meeting, and downstairs to the cafeteria, and maybe over to the fitness center after work for a quick workout.
You don’t have those things anymore — not for a little while, anyway. What you have in their place is…home.
I’m an active person – hyperactive, some might say — yet I love working from my home office. Here are my best tips for staying active when you’re working from home.
Start your morning with a workout
Most work mornings I’m up early and on the exercise bike and working with weights. After that, I take a mental break and play the guitar for a few minutes before jumping into the administrative portion of my morning — cleaning up the kitchen, dealing with laundry, making beds, and so forth.
The combination of the workout and the “brain break” give me the fuel I need to charge headlong into the morning’s work and be super-productive from the opening bell.
It’s been my experience that you establish your day’s momentum early, and ride it through your day. The better you start, the better you’ll finish.
Flex your hours – to the extent you can
My normal work day is 7 a.m.-4:30 p.m., with an hour for lunch. This lets me take advantage of that productive early stretch, get in a workout at noon, and do something active before it gets dark.
You heard right — three workouts, and maybe something after dinner, too.
I don’t expect everyone to follow my lead — you probably shouldn’t follow my lead — but the important thing is to create a work schedule that allows you time to be active, should you so choose.
(Kudos to my wife for tolerating this lifestyle for 27 years.)
DIY a standup desk
I have a real standup desk now, but for more than a year I’d work several hours a day at a standup “desk” made out of board-game boxes.
If you’ve never tried it, working standing up is great. You’re energized and more focused — and I think I spend more time at the task at hand and am less likely to procrastinate when working standing up.
The benefits for your whole body, from your joints to your heart, are tangible as well.
I absolutely recommend working standing up, with these caveats:
- Ease into it. You’ll be surprised at first by how tired your feet and legs can get.
- Wear good shoes. This is not an activity you can do well barefooted or in bedroom slippers.
Eat lunch at your desk
This goes back to the second point. There’s likely nothing holding you back now from shifting the time you eat lunch to the time you’re working, giving you more time to do something active during that lunch time.
When I was working in a corporate setting, this was my go-to tactic for fitting in lunch and a workout; now it’s just the way things are.
Take a walk
This was another corporate go-to — use my break time to take a walk.
Walking is a fantastic form of exercise, fresh air is healthy, and talking a walk break helps you refocus your mind on what you have to do the rest of your day.
I’ve had some of my best inspirations on my afternoon walks, so I even thought of it as “work time.” I didn’t always get my bosses to agree, but that’s another story.
One more benefit of walking: It can be a very calming exercise — something we all need these days.
Do some simple exercises
When sitting at your desk, try working with your legs lifted off the ground and stuck straight out. How long can you hold it?
Take a few minutes for exercises like one-legged knee bends, with your other leg bent and supported by a chair, or arm circles, or planks. Do a couple of quick yoga stretches. Use an exercise band on your legs.
Just like walking or working standing up, these exercises can energize you and help you power through your day.
Move around the last five minutes of every hour
Commit to spending the last five minutes of every hour walking around and maybe doing some light housework chores — cleaning a bathroom, for instance.
The work has to be done, and if you’re committing your hours to your family, knocking off a few chores over the course of a working day can be uber-helpful.
Watch your diet
I’ll be honest: I have a bag of Reese’s Miniatures in my desk drawer, and I consider Diet Mountain Dew to be the elixir of the gods. But all things in moderation: I eat more fruits and vegetables these days, and I use my 24/7 access to the fridge to be a way to eat better, not worse.
We all have our bad, fall-off-the-wagon days. They may happen more now than before. But committing to a healthy diet is a marathon, not a sprint. Today may not have been your best day, but tomorrow is another opportunity to live a healthier life.
Practice a little self-care
Walk upstairs and hug your kids. Walk out to the mailbox and wave at your neighbor. Make yourself a cup of tea.
Moments of calm may be hard to come by. You need to create them on your own. Balance your active moments, your working moments, and your moments of peace. You can have that opportunity when you’re working from home. Take advantage of it.
While I wish it were under different circumstances, welcome to the WFH life. I hope it’s a positive, healthy experience that can help redefine what “work-life balance” means to you.