How I "Stay Sane" Working from Home

An introvert at heart, Jack describes the effect working from home has had on him, and shares how he looks after his mental health.

I’ve always been introverted and the idea of a nationwide lockdown didn’t bother me too much. I’m a CAD/CAM Engineer which basically means I spend most of my time typing in numbers to programme machines.

The small office above the manufacturing warehouse I work in consists of two people and that was enough for me. That being said, since working from home, even I’ve noticed a distinct lack of human interaction. Days feel longer and it’s easy for work life and home life to blend too much.

The easiest way for me to stay motivated is to have a sense of structure, but working from home changed my routines completely. To keep myself on track, I decided to keep some parts of my old routine as gospel, while creating four new ‘guidelines’ that worked within the boundaries of lockdown life.

Routine: My regular 6am work alarm remains, even though the travel time has disappeared.

    • I started off lockdown waking only half an hour before my workday began, but I’ve since found that having extra time in the morning means I can wake up properly, put away dishes from the draining board or make a big breakfast, and get in the proper mental headspace for a full day at work.

Structure: I keep my desk tidy.

    • Every evening, I clean up any notes, put pens away and shut my computer down. It helps me to start each day afresh when everything is tidy, and my desk happens to be in my living room so it helps me enjoy and relax into my evening free time too. No one wants to see piles of work across the room when they’re playing Mario Kart in the evening(!).

Exercise: I’m not a fitness buff but I enjoy running each week at my local park.

    • Parkrun isn’t officially happening anymore but I’m there every Saturday morning with a friend. Sometimes one of us isn’t feeling it, but having the other one there as a workout buddy – even if from a distance - motivates us to show up. Occasionally we might have something planned and often run earlier to fit it in. Plenty of people enjoy exercising more, but I find running a 5K once a week enough to keep me in the right shape and space mentally.

Social: I make time for my friends.

  • I live with my girlfriend and, while we have a great relationship, no one can or should depend on one person for all of their socialising needs. Before lockdown, I’d usually leave it up to one of the others to suggest a meet up, but now I’m the first one to ask if the guys are free. We started having weekly quiz nights, just like everyone else did back in April. As the months went on and friends started going back to work, this died down, but we still join for a game of virtual crazy golf occasionally. Talking to each other on a group voice chat during the game keeps us feeling connected and it’s definitely more interactive than a phone call alone.

Sadly, the pandemic doesn’t look like it will let up anytime soon. I feel that building and maintaining these new elements into my routine helped the first time round and I’m hoping they will continue to help with long-term motivation. I can only enjoy each day as it comes, while trying to stay flexible about the future.