Working from home has become more common than ever over the last two years, and it’s here to stay. One survey found that 90% of remote workers plan to continue working remotely until they’re ready to retire.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Working from home has plenty of benefits. It offers more flexibility, comfort, and it has even been shown to improve productivity.
However, winter comes with a unique set of challenges for remote workers. You’ll have to deal with things like less daylight, the typical “winter blues,” a potential for bad weather that could knock out power or Wifi, and higher electric bills.
Throw in the stress from the holidays on top of that, and you might find yourself wanting to hibernate under a blanket all winter.
But, there are things you can do to stay productive and manage your mental health this winter, and the best time to start preparing is now.
Cut Back on Energy Usage
Working from home is far more sustainable than commuting to an office job. During the winter months, however, your electric bill might make you wonder if you’re single-handedly powering your whole city.
You have to consider things like heating costs, when to turn on your lights due to lack of daylight, and whether or not to use holiday decorations. Working from home already requires more electrical consumption, and in the winter it’s worse.
To decrease your energy consumption while working from home, try some of the following tips:
- Open your curtains to regulate temperature and add more natural light
- Switch off lights, appliances, and digital devices when not in use
- Use a power strip for devices
- Invest in solar panels
It might be more of a challenge to manage your energy consumption in the winter, but it’s not impossible. Simple “hacks” can make it easier to save money and reduce energy usage even in your office space. Lay down a rug for more heat, don’t block your air vents, and use a well-insulated door to keep your workspace cozy without wasting energy.
Manage Your Time
With darker days, family obligations, and a lack of motivation, one of the struggles you can face working from home in the winter is time management. The easiest way to stay on track with your time is to develop a daily routine or schedule. If you were working in person at an office, you’d have to do the same thing, so make it work for you at home.
The ideal schedule is different for everyone. In general, try to get up at the same time each day and go through a morning routine. Doing some simple stretches or exercising can help to wake and warm up your mind and body so you’ll feel more energetic as you start the day.
Most importantly, set specific work hours. One of the biggest mistakes remote workers make is thinking they can sleep in and start hitting the digital grindstone whenever they want. Unfortunately, that leads to a lack of productivity, extra stress, and poor work-life balance. By setting hours and taking breaks throughout the day, you’ll avoid burning out and you’ll get more done.
Beat the “Winter Blues”
About 10-20% of Americans experience mild “winter blues,” with a smaller percentage experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Winter is dark, cold, and there isn’t usually a lot of sunlight peeking through the clouds every day.
Realistically, you’re not going to want to work when you’re feeling blue. So, what can you do to manage the depressing effects of the season while working from home? Try to add some simple fixes to your everyday routine, including:
- Taking a hot shower first thing in the morning
- Going outside for a walk in the afternoon
- Making and sticking to plans
- Exercising often
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Staying connected to friends and family
Taking care of your mental health throughout the winter isn’t just important for your job. It’s important for your overall quality of life. Implement some of those ideas, and don’t forget to make self-care a part of your daily routine, too.
Working from home in the winter might create some new obstacles, especially if it’s your first time doing it. But, with a few changes and a willingness to be flexible, you can get through this snowy season without sacrificing your career success or your mental well-being.
Sam Bowman authored this post