6 WFH Habits That Are Stopping You from Being Successful

WFH is awesome. No dreadful commutes, cosy PJs, more family face-time. What’s not to love? But, in the new normal, it’s easy to develop bad WFH habits without even realising.

You might find yourself struggling to unplug. Ending your workday is harder. And despite working what seems like the entire day, you might still end up feeling unproductive.

Here are 6 bad WFH habits hindering your growth and their simple, not so drastic, solutions.

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1. Reduced personal physical space

less personal space
Photo by Freepik

There’s no doubt that in these unprecedented times family is indeed a blessing. But let’s just be honest. We aren’t used to this much togetherness. Our work-life boundaries have been erased.

When working from home, we often sacrifice self-care over the needs of others. However, studies show that daily solitude improves the creative process, reduces stress and the risk of burnout both emotionally and physically1,2.

Take your time finding an activity that’s just yours. Such as:

  • Calming physical activity
    Exercise/meditate in solitude, preferably early in the morning when everyone is asleep.
  • Brain food
    Perhaps read a book while being tucked away in a silent corner of the house.
  • Self-confidence booster
    Like a one-person project that does not involve screens.

2. Being stuck in a time loop

time loops wfh habits
Photo by Freepik

Are your days something like this -> Wake up, throw on a presentable shirt, start work, Zoom meetings, lunch, work, eat junk, Netflix, and finally, collapse?

There’s value in routine. No doubt. But WFH burnout is inevitable.

Monotony can decrease productivity, increase distraction and stress levels3. It makes sense because, after all, variety is the spice of life.

Here are some ideas to add freshness to your WFH routine:

  • Change your workspace
    Get some work done in the garden or any other room. It will provide you with a change of scenery. It will also give you a break from being glued to your desk.
  • Try switching up your workdays
    The traditional “Five days on, two days off” routine at times gets dull. If possible, consider working on Saturdays and taking Wednesdays off.
  • Level up your dressing game
    Try on some trendy casual outfits. How about replacing Mondays with Fancy Mondays?
  • Learn something new
    Pick one thing. The easiest one. And begin doing it. It will stimulate your mind and keep you refreshed.
  • Plan surprises
    Plan out small things like cooking a new dish or a trip to the ice-cream store and break the monotony.

3. Do you know the right way to nap?

napping good wfh habits
Photo by Freepik

We get your drive to do as much as possible and afternoon naps may make you feel guilty- as if you are slacking off or something.

But you can put your mind at ease. According to research, naps improve memory, cognitive function and increase productivity4,5.

But you need to catch your Zs the right way. Here are some tips on effective napping:

  • Avoid napping in bed
    A dark, quiet room with a couch is ideal for a rejuvenating power nap.
  • Napping after lunch is ideal
    If you nap too late, it’ll be difficult for you to fall asleep at night.
  • Do not nap for more than 20 minutes
    According to NASA, the ideal nap duration is 26 minutes. To avoid oversleeping, set an alarm.

4. Heavier meals

snacking bad wfh habits
Photo by Freepik

According to a study, 45% of people snacked more than usual when working from home6. This habit of overeating can harm your mental health, weight, and productivity7.

So for your long-term well-being (and waistline) here are some tips to get you on track:

  • Plan and prepare healthy meals
    It will keep you from mindlessly grabbing whatever you can find.
  • No screens during mealtimes
    It will save you from overeating.
  • Protein-rich breakfasts are an underrated hack
    Proteins improve mental performance and help in weight loss8. They also make you feel fuller for a longer period.
  • Water, water, water
    Dehydration affects brain performance9. Amid work, it’s easy to forget to drink water. Keep some water at your work table.
  • Limit your caffeine intake
    Too much is known to cause headaches, anxiety, digestive issues, and even fatigue10.

Here’s a list of healthy snacks that you can binge on without feeling guilty about it.

5. Conversing with people only via screens

too many video calls
Photo by Freepik

Do you often find yourself in no mood to entertain friends or family after work?

The fatigue is because you are emotionally exhausted. Video conferencing is the primary culprit for several reasons.

According to a study, lack of eye contact makes people feel they are not heard. It increases cognitive effort and causes frustration11.

Moreover, virtual meetings restrict mobility. Research suggests that when people are moving, they perform better cognitively12.

There are several ways to limit video call fatigue, such as:

  • Reduce the mental load arising from being self-conscious
    Turn off the feature where you can see yourself during calls. This can be done by right-clicking on your photo.
  • A standing desk with a webcam placed further away might help
    Place an external camera farther away from the screen so you can pace and doodle in virtual meetings, just like in real ones.
  • Breakaway from the screen after every video call
    Schedule short breaks away from the computer and between video calls. If you can, leave a gap of 10-minutes between successive calls. Multiple video calls in a row are tiring.

6. Soaring screen time

Bad wfh habits too much screen time
Photo by Bruce Mars on Unsplash.

You’re possibly working more at home than you would at your office. There aren’t any impromptu breaks like a trip to the communal kitchen or watercooler chats. Everything from collaboration to socializing happens in the virtual space.

According to research, spending six hours or more per day watching screens increases the risk of depression, can cause fatigue or discomfort in your eyes, and lead to poor cognitive performance13,14.

To limit your screen time, you don’t need drastic changes. Just try these simple tricks.

  • Turn off notifications
    Take charge over when you would like to be notified. Every time a new notification comes in, you end up looking at your phone for no good reason.
  • Try the 20-20-20 rule
    It reduces eye strain. Basically, take a break every 20 minutes and look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Use blue light filters
    Reduce the amount of blue light displayed on your screen. This will reduce eye strain and your eyes won’t feel tired out and dry15.
  • Physical stationary
    It might sound old-fashioned but it can save your eyes from discomfort. Use real paper to jot down your notes.

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  1. Bowker JC, Stotsky MT, Etkin RG. How BIS/BAS and psycho-behavioral variables distinguish between social withdrawal subtypes during emerging adulthood. Pers Individ Diff. 2017;119:283-288.
  2. Ayala, E., Winseman, J., Johnsen, R. and Mason, H., 2018. U.S. medical students who engage in self-care report less stress and higher quality of life. BMC Medical Education, 18(1).
  3. Cleary, M., Sayers, J., Lopez, V. and Hungerford, C., 2016. Boredom in the Workplace: Reasons, Impact, and Solutions. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 37(2), pp.83-89.
  4. Cousins, J., Wong, K., Raghunath, B., Look, C. and Chee, M., 2018. The long-term memory benefits of a daytime nap compared with cramming. Sleep, 42(1).
  5. McDevitt, E., Sattari, N., Duggan, K., Cellini, N., Whitehurst, L., Perera, C., Reihanabad, N., Granados, S., Hernandez, L. and Mednick, S., 2018. The impact of frequent napping and nap practice on sleep-dependent memory in humans. Scientific Reports, 8(1).
  6. Kriaucioniene, V., Bagdonaviciene, L., Rodríguez-Pérez, C. and Petkeviciene, J., 2020. Associations between Changes in Health Behaviours and Body Weight during the COVID-19 Quarantine in Lithuania: The Lithuanian COVIDiet Study. Nutrients, 12(10), p.3119.
  7. Bremner, J., Moazzami, K., Wittbrodt, M., Nye, J., Lima, B., Gillespie, C., Rapaport, M., Pearce, B., Shah, A. and Vaccarino, V., 2020. Diet, Stress and Mental Health. Nutrients, 12(8), p.2428.
  8. HACKNEY, K., BRUENGER, A. and LEMMER, J., 2010. Timing Protein Intake Increases Energy Expenditure 24 h after Resistance Training. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 42(5), pp.998-1003.
  9. Sfera, A., Cummings, M., Inderias, L. and Osorio, C., 2016. Dehydration and Cognition in Geriatrics: A Hydromolecular Hypothesis. Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences, 3.
  10. William Ishak, W., Ugochukwu, C., Bagot, K. and Khalili, D., 2012. Energy drinks. Nutrition & Food Science, 31(3).
  11. Riedl, R., 2021. On the stress potential of videoconferencing: definition and root causes of Zoom fatigue. Electronic Markets,.
  12. Herold, F., Hamacher, D., Schega, L. and Müller, N., 2018. Thinking While Moving or Moving While Thinking – Concepts of Motor-Cognitive Training for Cognitive Performance Enhancement. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 10.
  13. Madhav, K., Sherchand, S. and Sherchan, S., 2017. Association between screen time and depression among US adults. Preventive Medicine Reports, 8, pp.67-71.
  14. Sheppard, A. and Wolffsohn, J., 2018. Digital eye strain: prevalence, measurement and amelioration. BMJ Open Ophthalmology, 3(1), p.e000146.
  15. Jaiswal, S., Asper, L., Long, J., Lee, A., Harrison, K. and Golebiowski, B., 2019. Ocular and visual discomfort associated with smartphones, tablets and computers: what we do and do not know. Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 102(5), pp.463-477.
bad wfh habits

Written by Rida Khan

I'm a writer and a voracious reader with a graduate degree in English Literature. I have always harboured a keen interest in topics related to health, wellbeing, travel, and crafts. I am currently building my career in Writing and Communications.


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