With everything happening with the Coronavirus and Covid-19, many companies are encouraging their employees to work from home as an effort to mitigate the spread of the virus.
While working from home isn’t an option for everyone in every career field, it does affect a great deal of us so I wanted to share a few tips I have from working from home for the past 10 years.
Let’s jump right into it.
One. Get ready for your workday in the same way you would if you were leaving the house. Working from your pajamas may sound fun, but I assure you it will impact your mood and productivity level. Getting ready, packing up a bag for your daily essentials (maybe not lunch, but perhaps your water bottle and a snack) will limit the time you need to leave your workspace to get something.
Two. Maintain normal work hours as best you can. This is going to be a challenge for people who have children at home during this time as well, but if you are able to find childcare for your children, try to stick to a solid start and end time. It gives your day a little structure and also gives the other people in your family an idea of what they can expect from your availability.
Three. Do not mix housework with your work tasks. As tempting as it is to throw a load of laundry in the washing machine in the middle of the day, try to separate your housework tasks from your work tasks. The stronger you keep that line, the easier it will be to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
Four. If you are used to having meetings scheduled that break up your day, schedule a few work-related activities to do at certain times in order to give your day some variety. So for me and my work on this website and social media, I start the day with a deep dive into my e-mail, and then I would schedule a second time to check in on e-mail at around 10:00am. Between the first check and my 10:00am check, I’d work on content, video editing, workflow layouts for upcoming projects, product research, etc. But at 10:00am, an alarm would go off giving me a chance to hit pause on what I was working on in order to check my e-mail.
Five. Don’t eat lunch at your desk. I do this a lot and I really dislike that it has become a habit. Step away from your desk or work area during lunch.
Six. If the quiet and the loneliness from working by yourself is too challenging, search on Spotify for Instrumental versions of your favorite soundtracks. My personal favorite is the Instrumental version of the Hamilton soundtrack. If I listen to music with words I become very distracted, but instrumentals are nice background filler music for me.
Seven. Give yourself the grace to find your rhythm. Since I’ve been working from home for so long, I’ve had a lot of time to figure out what works best for me. When it comes to my kids, I do all of my kid-related tasks before I start my workday. That means packing their lunch, prepping their lunch bag, and making sure they have what they need for school so I don’t have to stop what I’m doing to run downstairs and scramble to help them. Kids aside, I tend to write better in the morning so I spend my earliest time at my desk working on a content calendar and drafting posts. If I need a break, I’ll shift to my bedroom to shoot content.
Eight. Take a break and get outside. If you find yourself struggling, give yourself a break and head outside for a quick walk. Even something as small as 5 minutes outside can reset your mind.
Nine. Keep a list of your goals or tasks for the day, and check off what you’ve accomplished. Working from home takes a great deal of self-diligence, and if you don’t see tangible examples of what you have accomplished, it can feel like you’ve wasted your time.
Ten. At the end of the day, take a quick scan of your calendar or to-do list for the next day so you know what you have to work on next. Doing this is a new habit for me but it helps my mindset so much. If I know that I need to shoot an IGTV video or work on a style graphic, that affects how I look, what I wear, and if I can do that task while my children are at home making noise (Spoiler: filming a video with 3 kids in the house is a challenge!).
A quick note to those of you with kids who do not have childcare options: It’s going to be really hard to get work done with little kids running around. Justin and I both work from home (though a lot of his work is out in the field shooting with his drone) and we switch off between watching the kids and working. It’s rare that either of us is working WHILE watching the kids.
Kids generally like to feel important and included, so if there is a way to give them a task (even if it’s completely made up) to make them feel like they’re working too, that could buy you a few minutes of work time. There are also so many educational apps, tv shows, and other ways to entertain them if you need a solid chunk of time to get work done!
I hope these tips help you and I would love to hear any suggestions from other people who work from home regularly! This is a strange and unsettling time, and we’re all in this together, so the support and help from peers are vital.