For moms working from home, this 21-step daily self-care checklist will help you work at home productively without compromising your health and well-being.
While working remotely may seem like a dream job for moms with all the benefits of working from home, the transition to virtual work with a geographically diverse team comes with its own set of challenges.
Despite these challenges of remote working, the pandemic has put paid to the debate on why working from home is bad for business, and working from home productivity statistics have shown that working from home increases productivity.
The ‘employees that work from home are more productive’ debate ended when a Stanford study proved that work from home boosts productivity by up to 13% .
The pandemic has forced organisations to create a remote working policy for their remote employees, and their challenge now lies in how to increase productivity and how to calculate the productivity in remote workers.
Moms who started working from home due to the pandemic want to know the factors that increase productivity and where to find working from home productivity tips for working with geographically distributed teams.
If you’ve just started working remotely and are trying to adapt to the remote work culture, you’ll need to learn new online skills like remote team collaboration using virtual team communication tools as part of a dispersed workforce.
In addition to communicating virtually, another challenge for work at home moms is learning how to manage work from home motivation and productivity, as well as how to prevent burnout.
Of course, you can always download the best free productivity apps, have the best work from home productivity tools, and browse all the productivity blogs for the coolest work from home hacks and tips for remote workers to improve productivity.
But what you really need to focus on is how to work remotely effectively without affecting your health and well-being, which is what this article will address.
21-Step Self-Care Checklist For Work At Home Moms
As a mom who’s worked from home for over 20 years, I’ve learned about the pitfalls of remote life first-hand, such as how easy it is to burn out when working from home.
But, I’ve also learned some essential remote workers’ best practices and work-at-home mom self-care tips, based on the latest scientific research, for managing my energy and productivity over the long haul.
So, whether you’re starting your remote career or looking for advice on supporting remote workers, this checklist of 21 self-care tips for work-at-home moms will offer useful advice on how to work remotely effectively without compromising your health and well-being.
1. Know your personality type
One of the most important steps to improving your remote work productivity is to understand your personality type. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? You can do a free personality test and find out.
The difference between introverts and extroverts lies in how they manage their energy – introverts recharge their batteries when alone, while extroverts feel recharged when interacting with other people.
Once you know your personality type, you can do a free career test and figure out what type of remote job might work best for you. While remote work may seem like a natural fit for introverts, this is not always true.
Extroverts can learn to enjoy the advantages of virtual teams once they figure out how to get the social interaction they need to thrive. The free personality and career tests will also offer suggestions for the kind of work that is a natural fit for your personality type.
For instance, many introverts enjoy writing because it’s a solitary activity, while extroverts may prefer podcasting or virtual conferences and virtual networking as these involve interacting with people, albeit virtually.
2. Get attuned to your biological clock
According to the National Safety Council, circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioural changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. However, individual circadian rhythms vary widely and disturbances of the sleep-wake cycle – such as with shift work – can cause health problems, such as depression, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Most of us would categorise ourselves as either a morning person (lark) or a night person (owl) and, in general, “larks” like to wake up early in the morning and hit the sack at a respectable evening hour while “owls” are most alert at night and typically turn in long after dark.
It’s clear that circadian rhythms and “chronotypes” matter when it comes to productivity and self-care, and as Chris Taylor writes in Mashable, companies that embrace flexible schedules could harness new productivity from a fifth of their workers.
This article on Raconteur notes that for a remote worker, working online throughout the day as well as in the early morning and late evening, can not only impact on productivity and creativity but also trigger a higher level of burnout (which the World Health Organization has officially classified as an “occupational phenomenon”).
What this means for the work from home mom is that the ideal remote job for you would be one that fits into your personal circadian rhythm or chronotype.
As Aliya Vigor-Robertson, co-founder of JourneyHR says:
3. Find your Ikigai
The Japanese word, Ikigai, is used to denote your “reason for being” – what gets you out of bed in the morning or the work that helps you find purpose and passion.
The best way to find happiness and fulfilment in your remote career is to either choose work that you’re passionate about or to find purpose in the work you do. One way to do that is by choosing a job that helps you impact others in a positive way.
Personally, I’ve found that it’s the best way to love what you do in the long term – do the work you enjoy, but find a grander purpose – one that goes beyond your own needs and impacts the world in a bigger way.
Today, many millennials are doing that by choosing jobs that give them a sense of purpose over jobs that make more money.
4. Create a remote work schedule or routine
Using the self-care tips above on personality types, circadian rhythms and chronotypes, you can now work on creating a remote work schedule and self-care plan that works for you.
Most people benefit from having a remote work routine when working from home. Not only does it get your body and mind into a healthy routine, but also makes it easier on your family, so they know how to plan their schedule around yours.
Because the concept of work-life integration makes it hard to draw boundaries between work and family life, having a remote work schedule will also make it easier to set boundaries with co-workers or family members who make excessive demands on your time and energy.
5. Create a comfortable home office space
You don’t have to be a Feng Shui master to create a comfortable and pleasant home office space in which to work. Just implement the work from home office ideas below for the best home office setup for productivity.
- Invest in ergonomic home office furniture
Sitting for long at a computer station that is not ergonomically designed can cause repetitive stress injuries and back pain – a common ailment in computer workers.
Contrary to the popular notion, ergonomics is not complicated, expensive or difficult to implement. This guide to setting up an ergonomic home office will help you choose ergonomic home office furniture to do your best work while preventing injury.
- Place plants around your work area
Research has shown that plants boost productivity and that an office worker’s quality of life can be enriched by landscaping that involves the use of plants. Plants are also good for our well-being in other ways.
The NASA Clean Air Study found that certain common indoor plants, such as the common money plant or golden Pothos, may also provide a natural way of removing volatile organic pollutants.
- Declutter your workplace
Besides making it easier to keep your work station clean, there’s something to be said for the KonMari rules of tidying up and getting rid of things that don’t bring you joy.
You can also include objects that are pleasing to you, such as paintings that make you feel good when you look at them, or a water fountain to improve the energy flow in your home office workspace.
- Use colours that promote productivity
Paint your home office space in colours that promote productivity, such as restful green and calming blue, which improve efficiency and focus as well as lend an overall sense of well-being.
6. Play music for work productivity
We know that listening to music we love can improve our mood, but research has shown that listening to some types of music can even make repetitive tasks more pleasurable, and increase your concentration with the task.
Listening to music in-between tasks can also boost your mental performance. Of course, our experience of music is very subjective, so what works for one person may not work for someone else.
However, studies have found that calming nature sounds have a restorative effect on cognitive abilities and music with 50 to 80 beats per minute can enhance and stimulate creativity and learning.
You can find free music for productivity, such as this free binaural beats productivity music, on YouTube. The best way to find out what sort of music for work productivity works best for you is to experiment and try out your favourite tracks in different situations.
7. Start a mindfulness practice
Setting aside some quiet time in the day to practice meditation or mindfulness can be one of the best mental health and self-care practices you can include in your remote work schedule.
Not only will starting a mindfulness practice teach you how to rid yourself of stress and anxiety, but it will help you become less susceptible to crippling stress or anxiety in the first place and make you more mentally resilient.
You can even find free productivity meditations and audios on YouTube to help you boost productivity on the go, like the ones below:
8. Take lots of work breaks
Many studies have shown a link between work breaks and productivity, including a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo called The Pomodoro Technique that uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.
Studies have also found that employees who took frequent breaks were consistently more productive than their peers. Specifically, researchers found, the ideal work rhythm was 52 minutes of work time followed by a 17-minute break.
The reason for this is that the human brain naturally works in bursts of high activity that last about an hour, and then it switches to low activity for a while. When that happens, it’s in your best interest to take a break.
Work breaks keep our brains healthy and play a key role in cognitive abilities such as reading comprehension and divergent thinking (the ability to generate and make sense of novel ideas).
In her article in Psychology Today, Ellen Hendriksen, PhD, offers some tips on how to balance work and breaks.
9. Move your body often
Most of us associate working from home with a sedentary lifestyle, which is not exactly the healthiest way to live. Prolonged sitting leads to poor blood flow, while regular movement helps your body maintain optimal circulation to the brain, which is linked to improved cognitive function.
Studies have found that just getting up and out of your seat every 30 minutes could help to reduce the harms of sedentary behaviour and help you live longer. Regular exercise also improves mental sharpness, time management and work performance, so make it a part of your self-care morning routine.
If you want to stay alert, focused, boost your energy levels, supercharge your personal productivity, and improve your workday, it’s a good idea to move your body often and find a mode of exercise that you enjoy.
Your preferred workout could include yoga, Qigong, running, walking, strength training or dancing to an invigorating music video. Choose a form of exercise that you love to do so that you’re motivated to be consistent with it.
10. Eat a healthy diet
Snacking on junk food is one of the occupational hazards of working from home, mainly because the fridge is near at hand and it’s so easy to get up and snack whenever you get peckish.
But, just because you’re working remotely doesn’t mean you can’t eat a healthy diet. In fact, being at home, it should be even easier to eat healthy as long as you plan your meals, stock up on healthy groceries and avoid junk food.
According to the Harvard Medical School, you can improve your cognitive function with brain foods that are particularly rich in healthful components like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants (and even caffeine), which are known to support brain health.
Incorporating many of these foods into a healthy diet on a regular basis can improve the health of your brain, which could translate into better mental function.
11. Get enough sleep
Among all the self-care practices for remote workers, perhaps none are more important than getting an adequate amount of sleep, typically 7 to 9 hours each night.
In the long-term, sleep deprivation drains your mental abilities and puts you at risk for health issues ranging from weight gain to a weakened immune system, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.
Follow these tips for a healthy sleep schedule so you can get the shut-eye you need to maintain both good health and work performance.
12. Cultivate a hobby
Cultivating a hobby, such as baking, music, craft, art, photography, or even just watching movies in your downtime is a good way to disconnect from your workday and boost your creativity.
As a writer, I’ve often found that my most creative ideas come to me when I’m spending time away from my computer, watching a movie, listening to music, meditating, spending time in nature, or even while sleeping.
13. Relax on the weekends
This should go without saying, but in our culture, we are so focused on the need to constantly achieve, our weekends also become about how much Instagrammable fun we can fit into those two days.
Instead of using the weekend to prove to everyone what a fun life you have, just do something that rejuvenates you. For extroverts that may mean spending time with friends and family, while introverts like me love our Netflix and chill. After all, the concept of Self-Care Sunday exists for a reason.
So make use of these self-care day ideas to follow a special self-care day routine on the weekend and pamper yourself with a long bubble bath or hot shower (since few Indians have bathtubs) or get a relaxing massage or beauty treatment from a safe salon at home app or at-home beauty parlour service.
14. Make use of your vacation days
If you have a remote job that entitles you to take a vacation, don’t miss out on those precious days. Use them to enjoy a digital detox and travel somewhere fun, as soon as it’s safe to do so.
During the pandemic, the safest vacations are ones that involve a road trip or spending time outdoors, which is relatively safe. Avoid air travel and sightseeing in crowded places as far as possible.
15. Take a mental health day
All of us have days that are less than optimal, when we feel fatigued or stressed out or burnt out. Many remote workers also experience depression and anxiety and find it hard to get help when they need it.
There is a clear link between depression and productivity, as depression costs employers $44 billion a year in lost productive time and 81.1% of the lost productive time costs are caused by reduced performance while at work.
If you’re dealing with depression, anxiety, mental health issues, relationship issues, or grieving a death in the family, you can get free online counselling for women with a counsellor on the free AskSHEROES chat helpline.
You can also download a self-care app and use their free DIY self-care tips and tools to help you feel better. Don’t hesitate to take a mental health day when you need it, and don’t feel guilty about doing so.
After all, your mental health is every bit as important as your physical health and you can’t function properly at work unless you’re in the right frame of mind.
16. Get your family to pitch in
As a work from home mom, you’ll understand what it means to feel the burden of the second shift – having to deal with housework and childcare duties after you’re done with work or during your work hours as a remote worker.
In order to manage the burden of housework and childcare, you need to get your spouse and family to pitch in. Don’t run yourself ragged trying to do it all by yourself.
It helps if you can get your spouse, parents or in-laws to take over the childcare duties while you’re working or if you can hire a maid to help with the household duties.
17. Find ways to stave off loneliness
As I wrote in this article on loneliness, one of the downsides of being a remote worker is the solitude and loneliness that often accompanies it.
Remote workers often miss the lack of contact with one’s co-workers, the water-cooler banter, sharing a cup of coffee with a colleague at work, and most of all, hanging out with work friends after work.
As the neuroscientist, John Cacioppo, put it, humans are wired for intimacy and have a biological need to be in social groups, so loneliness tells us that we have a physical need for human contact.
Social distancing is causing and exacerbating loneliness for people of all demographics. Here are a number of ways you can manage loneliness and the feeling of isolation that often accompanies remote work.
- Reframe what loneliness means to you
Personally, I’ve found that one of the best ways to mitigate loneliness is to learn to be a friend to yourself, a concept the Buddhists call Maitri.
Buddhist teacher, Pema Chödrön, recommends that instead of regarding loneliness as an enemy:
- Spend more time with loved ones
If your loneliness is caused by a lack of interaction with other people, spending more time with your loved ones, like family and friends, will help you manage it better.
- Organise virtual team activities
Many companies work on motivating remote teams with the aim of building employee morale and productivity, by organising virtual team building activities for virtual teams.
If you miss interacting with your work colleagues, participate in these virtual team bonding activities wholeheartedly or offer to help organise virtual team activities for your company.
- Adopt a rescue pet
If you love animals and are willing to adopt a pet, visit your local shelter and adopt an animal no one else wants. The unconditional love of a pet can transform even the loneliest hearts, and rescue pets are most grateful for the love and attention they receive from their caregivers.
18. Be gentle with yourself
The best self-care practice that has helped me build resilience and overcome many of life’s challenges is the realization that we’re all voyagers navigating uncharted waters and that it’s ok to not be perfect.
The practices of self-acceptance and self-compassion teach us to be gentle with ourselves and accept ourselves the way we are, warts and all.
Accept your mistakes and failures as part of your learning process on this great life adventure and treat yourself the way you’d treat a toddler learning to take her first steps – with patience, love and compassion.
19. Focus on solutions… or take a break
When facing a problem that is getting you down, turn your focus from the problem to look for a solution. The problem is always at a different vibration than the solution, so you need to put yourself in the right frame of mind to receive the solution.
So when you stop asking a question or beating the drum of a problem, now in the absence of that vibration, the solution can reveal itself to you. And you feel the relief of it, the moment you let it go.
Often when I’ve been working hard on a problem, I find the best way to allow the solution to come to me is to walk away from the problem and do something else. Again, this comes down to taking breaks, because prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance.
A growing body of evidence shows that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves creativity and that skipping breaks can lead to stress, exhaustion, and creative block.
20. Write a self-care journal
If you find yourself obsessing about events and people, start writing a journal just before you sleep. You could make it a Book Of Positive Aspects or just put down the thoughts that are stressing you out and get them out of your mind.
Use these self-care journal prompts and self-care journal ideas to kick start the journaling process. Once you’re able to stop obsessing and focus on better-feeling thoughts, you’ll find you have more peace and clarity in your life.
21. Create a vision board
All of us want to improve our lives in some way. Whether you want a better career, a loving relationship, peaceful family life, more money or the ability to live the life of your dreams, a Vision Board is a powerful tool to help you visualize your best life and bring your dreams into reality.
It is a collection of images that represent your ideal life and the goals you want to achieve. Once you create your vision board, put it up in the space above your computer where you can see it every day.
Watch the video below to learn how to create your vision board.
Just focusing on your vision board for a while every day can put you in a positive frame of mind and activate your subconscious mind into helping you notice opportunities that will bring you closer to achieving your dreams.
It takes more than just having the tools for working remotely to become a successful virtual worker. Your attitude, mindset and habits play a significant role in the success of your remote career.
There are many types of self-care practices, from physical and mental self-care to emotional and spiritual self-care. Try these self-care tips and see which practices in this self-care list work for you.
If you’re taking care of yourself while caring for others in your family, practising self-care will help you look after yourself and your family better.
Incorporating this list of self-care practices into your “mom self-care” routine will help you work productively from home without compromising your mental, emotional and physical health.
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- 10 Home Office Design Tips For A Productive Work From Home Setup
- How To Convert A Bedroom Into An Office And Work From Home
- 7 Work From Home Motivation Methods To Improve Productivity At Home
About the author:
A version of this article was published on Thrive Global.