Working from home doesn’t have to be scary. I’ve worked from home for over 10 years! And even when I was in a corporate environment, I found myself to be even more productive on days I worked from home instead of the office. Since I’ve had plenty of practice, I wanted to share my tips on how to work from home during this stressful time we’re living in.
Tip #1: Set an alarm
Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you should sleep in like you do on the weekends. I find that it’s much easier to be productive when I wake up around the same time every morning. I’m not saying you have to wake up super early. I personally wake up at 6:30 or 7am every day during the week. If you’re more of a night owl, maybe do 8am. But having that set time every day really helps productivity levels for the day and week.
Tip #2: Designate a work space
Some people recommend you need a very specific place to do your work at home, like a desk or kitchen table. I’m a little more lax on this. Sometimes I work on my couch. And ever since my accident, I formed a habit of working on the floor (it helps my back). But I never, ever, ever work from my bedroom.
Moral of the story: if you can, it is probably best to have a specific designated work space in your home. But if you’re like me, and live in a one bedroom apartment or smaller space, it’s also ok to have a designated “off-limits” work space. I highly recommend this being your bedroom. I go into more depth on this in tip number 6.
Tip #3: Create a daily and weekly schedule
All my friends will tell you I’m super Type A. I find being extra organized helps me being more productive, especially when working from home. I organize everything from my daily calendar to my weekly and monthly schedule. I also have daily to-do list and weekly to-do lists. I mostly organize through a color coded Google calendar. But in recent months have also utilized Asana for my to-do lists.
In addition to having lists of what I want to accomplish daily, I also try to block out times for when I want to accomplish them. For example, I’ll carve out an hour for emails in the early morning, a few hours for writing blog posts in the late morning, etc. I don’t get too specific with these but it helps me to have a rough timeline to keep me on track (and to make sure I’m not being overly ambitious).
I did a whole YouTube video on how I stayed organized if you want to check it out!
Tip #4: Play non-distracting background noise
Background noise is key for me when working from home. At an office, you always have background noise. But at home, it can get eerily quiet. Maybe it’s just me, but I need something going on to keep me focused. My big no-no is TV. I’ve tried having the television on while I work but nine times out ten it distracts me. Even if I’ve seen Carrie get broken up with by a post-it twelve times on Sex in the City, I still find myself wanting to watch it again.
Instead, I rely on music. I did a whole post on my Pandora station I play when working from home. If I really need to concentrate, for example when I’m writing important emails, I play a station that either has purely instrumental music, like classical or jazz music. Or I’ll tell Alexa to play Bossa Nova radio on Pandora. It’s all in Brazilian so I can’t understand what they’re saying, which is majorly helpful. There are also tons of YouTube video that have background noise if you don’t want music.
Tip #4: Have prepared lunches
There are many times I’ve worked all day forgetting to eat. It results in me being ravenous around 4pm, cutting my work day short because I can’t think about anything except a ginormous bowl of pasta. I find myself to be much more productive when I have a healthy lunch planned the night before. This way, I take note if it’s around lunch time and force myself to take a break to get some nutrients.
Tip #5: Take breaks
Speaking of taking breaks, I cannot stress the importance of this when working from home. Unlike an office, you won’t have those common distractions of a co-worker asking you a question or getting called to a meeting. So self-imposed breaks are really necessarily for your mental well-being at home.
My breaks usually involve my dog, Jack Jack. I stop for five minutes or so every hour to play with him. Then I take him for a walk mid-day to get some fresh air (obviously these days when I walk I’m extra careful to steer clear of others on our short outings).
Other ideas for taking breaks? Call a friend or family member so you don’t feel too isolated throughout the day. Do a 5 minute meditation practice (I’m horrible at meditating but I find Calm and Headspace apps to be helpful). You can also do a quick 5 to 10 minute exercise break, like sit-ups or jumping jacks to get your blood flowing.
Tip #6: Make sure to shut down
This tip is also a reminder for me because I find this to be the hardest part about working from home: knowing when to shut down. There have been so many times I find myself working until way too late and I have trouble turning off my brain before bed. I’ve recently tried to implement a reading before bed motto into my daily routine.
I stop working at least an hour before bedtime. This gives me time to enter my bedroom (what I think of as my sanctuary) and start to wind down with my nightly skincare routine. I’ll then light a candle, get into bed and read for a little to fully wind down for the evening. If you need any book recommendations I update my book reviews list weekly!
I hope these tips help you if your company is having you work from home for the time being. If you have any tips you want to share let me know in the comments below! And just remember… we’re all in this together and we will get past this. Heart you all!