A lot of us are suddenly working from home, some of us for the very first time. So I wanted to put together a list of tips to make our adjustment to working from home easy, productive and effective.
1. Get dressed
Sounds obvious, but it is really easy to stay in your pajamas when you work from home. Don’t do this. Get out of bed and change into real clothes. You don’t need to wear work clothes, but normal clothes that you’d leave the house in. Staying in pajamas only makes going back to bed that much more appealing. Here is a post I put together about my capsule wardrobe as a stay at home mom.
2. Set up a designated workspace
Not your bed. Again, this can be tempting. But, again, you will fall asleep. If you don’t have a home office or desk already set up, find a spot to make your workspace. Set up your computer and charger and anything else you’ll need.
3. Keep water and snacks at your workspace
When you work from home, it’s easy to get distracted. Getting up every five minutes to grab some water or stare into your pantry is a major distraction. So, when you’re setting up your workspace, grab a big cup or bottle of water and a few different snacks (a bowl of nuts, pretzels, cheese sticks, fruit, jerky sticks, etc.)
4. Take small breaks every 1-2 hours
Set timers and get up every couple of hours to step away from the screen. 5-10 minute breaks should do the trick. Step outside, stretch, use the bathroom. Set a timer so you don’t get too distracted, and then return to work.
5. Play music to help focus
Playing some music in the background can keep your mind from getting distracted. Depending on the work you’re doing, you’ll know what you should listen to. If your work allows you to pay attention to something passively, you can listen to music with lyrics or even a podcast. If your work requires your full, undivided attention, you’ll want to listen to something instrumental. There are plenty of playlists available on Spotify or youtube.
6. Don’t let your phone become a distraction
Your phone is going to be needed in order to stay available and connected to your team. However, it can also become a distraction. So striking that balance requires some self-discipline. Turn off push notifications. Or turn your phone over so the screen is facing down. Set ringer to silent. Whatever you need to do to make sure your phone doesn’t become a distraction. It’s very easy to swipe open your phone and start scrolling. Maybe delete your social media/news apps while you work, sign out of all the apps or hide them in a separate folder. During “work hours”, your phone needs to be for work only.
7. Set personal goals, deadlines, and rewards
It helps to plan out your day. The expectations help keep your brain organized. If you can, set some deadlines for yourself as to when certain items should be completed. Make short to-do lists of 3-5 tasks to accomplish and cross them off as they get done. And keeping small rewards in mind for the end of the day helps incentivize you to get your work done. Maybe when you finish your work, you’ll sit on the couch and watch your favorite show. Or go workout. Or read a book. Whatever reward motivates you.
8. Clock in and clock out
Set your schedule. Know when you’re going to start your workday and when your workday is over. If you don’t do this, it’s very easy to just continue working past the point that you should and this can lead to burnout. We all need to stay as healthy as possible right now, and burnout can devastate your immune system. When you’re working, your brain should be focused on work and accomplishing your work goals. When that time is up, your workday is over, and you should focus your mind on everything else.
9. Give yourself some grace
For some of you, this may be the first time you’re ever working from home. Give yourself some grace as you adjust to this new setup. If you’re a parent and your kids are home while you’re working, it’s okay to let them entertain themselves with tv and video games while you get your work done.
10. ASK FOR HELP
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone is coming together right now to help however they can. Maybe a friend can entertain your kid while you work. Or you can borrow a neighbor’s wifi if yours goes out. If you can’t figure out how to do something remotely, ask someone for help. Everyone is adjusting to a new way of doing things right now, and we’re all willing to show up for each other.
One final note…
We all have a responsibility to stay as healthy as possible right now. Physically and mentally. Physically, we should all be practicing basic hygiene, drinking lots of water, taking extra vitamins and practicing social distance. Mentally, we should be taking breaks from the screen, making sure to communicate and interact with people however we can, moving our bodies and staying in good spirits.
Working from home can get lonely. A lot of us are used to working in an office and rely on that setting for our daily human interaction. It’s important to stay aware of yourself and notice if you’re starting to feel depressed. Reach out to teammates/coworkers for actual conversation. Call them instead of doing everything via chat/email. Or do a video call, so you can see each other! It’s important to maintain some normalcy right now and actually speak to people to help prevent that depression and loneliness from setting in.