The past few weeks have thrown a lot of stress and anxiety at our society. During my trip to Whole Foods last night I was pretty shocked by the long lines, completely empty frozen foods section and of course – the total lack of toilet paper and hand sanitizer for weeks now.
I mean, forget all the usual worries we have as humans – or have personally going on right now – but toss in a global epidemic like Coronavirus and your ability to stay calm, cool and cheerful becomes seriously challenged.
And because of the covid-19 circumstances, along with event and sports cancellations, it seems there are many people working virtually for the next few weeks or longer. So today, I’m sharing my 10 Working From Home Tips. Because hi, I’ve totally been doing this for quite a while now…
I Know This One!
I consider myself an expert in this arena since I have been working from home for the past thirteen years.
It’s Not All PJS and Lunch Breaks
Most people think that working from home is nothing but PJs all day, reality TV on demand, snacks a few feet away and a chill state of mind. And yeah, that is absolutely true at first! But working from home has it’s own challenges. So I have ten tips to help you stay healthy, happy and productive if you are working from home.
Working From Home Roadblocks:
- social isolation
- access to distractions like food + TV + family + chores
- snacking alllll day
- lack of commute to clear your mind
- time warp effect
- lack of productivity due to virtual setup
Working from home can be a wonderful thing. But it takes some time and practice to really figure out your routine and what your personal roadblocks might be. Some people get really depressed working alone. Some people can’t stay out of the kitchen. Some people simply can’t work when there are so many chores, distractions and household things at their fingertips. But hopefully, my tips will help you in your roadblock areas!
11 Tips for Working From Home
1 – Stick to Your Morning Routine
I think the most important tip for working from home is to stick to your usual morning routine. Trust me, sleeping in too late and sliding into your work chair still in your PJs can absolutely happen – but long term it just kinda makes you feel yucky. Not really like yourself.
there is something really energizing and comforting to get up and do your usual AM routine. For me, it involves feeding the cats, taking a shower, giving my body and face some TLC with my clean skincare products. Then I get dressed. I admit I usually wear loungewear all day .. but sometimes throw on a pair of jeans. Wear whatever feels normal to you. I’ll cover this more in #2. And then I make breakfast, actually sit down for breakfast, check my phone, chill for a minute and think about my workday ahead. And then my tiny commute from kitchen to office. Hey, it’s not the usual 9-5 gig routine, but it works for me to transition me from bed to office.
2 – Wear Real Clothes
As I touched on in #1, wearing PJs all day long gets old really fast. It messes with your brain. It makes everything feel less active and productive. And it’s confusing to be wearing PJs at 4pm when you should be getting ready to stop working soon and transition to the evening soon. Nothing is better than changing into your PJs at the end of the day! Wearing them all day prevents that happy transition.
Another reason to wear real clothes: it encourages you to be able to go outside into the real world! And more on that…
3 – Get Out
Working from home doesn’t mean you have to stay cooped up inside all day. My favorite get-out activities are the following:
- Check the mail (simple but works!)
- Walk around the block or to the store
- Take out the trash
- Walk to the gym (if possible)
- Toss on some Airpods and queue up a podcast or some music and walk and listen as you stroll or even sit outside.
- If you have a dog, take your dog for a walk or even potty breaks help you get out.
- Plan a lunchtime stroll with a neighbor or friend
- Walk to get coffee, a smoothie or anything nearby.
- Take a drive to a local park and stroll a bit there.
4 – Take Lunch Breaks
So important when working from home! Trust me, you can easily be churning out a project – in the zone – and with zero co-workers to remind you to take a break – end up working right through lunch. Don’t do it. Keep your blood sugar stable and energize your brain with some healthy eats. Even a light lunch helps! Plus it breaks up the day and shifts your energy for a bit. I find I need a midday break – mentally – to come back to work and get my second wind for that second half of the day. Some easy lunch ideas:
- veggie / deli type sandwich
- soup + toast
- avocado toast
- chickpea salad
- big salad
- dinner leftovers
Take advantage of the fact that you have an entire kitchen available to you when you work from home!
5 – Stay Connected! Text Co-workers of Colleagues..
If you are virtually working with your usual officemates, this will naturally happen. But for self-employed folks like me, you sometimes have to be proactive. I love hopping on my phone and texting friends who do the same type of work as me. And sometimes we have long chats about projects, life and everything in between.
Prevent isolation and stalled brain power by staying connected.
And if you don’t have any co-workers or colleagues for whatever reason, hop on social media! Find hashtags related to your job and make virtual connections. Facebook Groups are also great ways to privately interact with people in your line of work.
6 – Don’t Let Pets be the Boss
Ha. This one is kinda hard. My cats can absolutely take over my workday pretty easily by meowing their heads off for attention, jumping on or in front of my computer or just doing that thing where they look so cute I need to stop everything and cuddle them. Well, definitely take pet breaks – it’s good for your health!!! – but also don’t let them distract you too much. They will learn. And eventually they will understand that you are not just at home to give them extra attention, but to actually get work done. “Work, what’s that?” – my cats.
But really, having pets in your workspace is a beautiful thing! It really feels like I have little co-workers on most days. Well, very lazy and unproductive coworkers! But very cute coworkers….
7 – Work Space
Where is your working from home sanctuary? Your in-home office? You need one! Even if it’s a cozy corner or quiet room.
Working in the middle of a loud, busy room isn’t the best scenario. Try to find a place that is quiet, calm and gives you space to think and be creative. Sometimes I really just need to be alone when I write. Having someone in the same room as me can distract the ideas swirling in my head. And that’s ok! Separate yourself as best you can from family and clearly explain that you need your space to be productive.
The more productive you are – the sooner you can stop working and enjoy being so close to your loved ones! (Or pets!)
8 – Consider a 4-Day Week
One of my fave tips for working from home…
When possible, consider working hard core only four days a week. Sometimes I make Friday my ‘light work’ day. I can then do all the housework I want and even give myself some space to watch a movie in the middle of the day!
If you have kids while working from home, it can be awesome to separate one day as a free day for them – during the week.
Working from home allows you to be a bit more flexible with how you use your time. Use it or lose it! Take advantage of the lack of commute. Lack of time wasted in meetings at work. And more. Be full steam productive a few days and then be easy on yourself for one or even more days.
9 – Too Quiet? Fix That.
Sometimes a work from home office can get too quiet. Maybe not true if your entire family is at home – but for me it definitely happens under more normal circumstances. Well, there are a few things you can do:
- Turn on your fave podcast – or find one! There are soooo many these days.
- If you are writing and cannot have background sound – read everything out loud! this is actually a really awesome benefit for work from home writers.
- Turn on your fave music – calming or upbeat
- Tell Alexa to play ocean or rain sounds
- Turn on the TV! If desperate, some background chatter can help. Sometimes I will play old movies that I’ve seen a million times when doing creative work like cooking, photographing or photo editing.
- Call your mom or dad. I like how I can just call my mom and let her talk for a while updating me on things. I just listen and work and it definitely breaks up the quiet.
- Turn on sports. I actually LOVE working with tennis on in the background. I’m so sad so many tournaments have been cancelled due to coronavirus. But under normal circumstances..
10 – Get Moving
Take advantage of the fact that you don’t have to stay stuck at your desk all day. Get up, walk around the house, throw some laundry in the washing machine or take out the trash. I love how much I am able to get in steps without ever leaving my office.
And when possible, fit in a fitness plan to your new work reality. The cool thing about more flexible hours is that sometimes you can workout in the middle of the day.
11 – Stay off Social Media
Oh man this is a big one. If you use social media for work – like a lot of people these days – definitely take breaks and do what you need to do. But for long productive work stretches, place your phone further than arms reach away. even in another room if possible.
I hope those tips for working from home help a little. I know it can feel strange working from home if you are not used to it. It isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, but when looked at from an optimistic view – can absolutely be a very positive thing! For more, check out my article: 12 Tips for Workday Wellness.
Stay well everyone.