Like many people across the country, I’ve spent the last few weeks working from home. That was a whole new challenge and change for me, since I had never truly worked from home for longer than a day or two at a time, here and there. I’ve learned a lot while working from home for the last few weeks, and I’m excited to share those learnings with y’all today.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about working from home. I was afraid I’d be more distracted and would snack all day. Thankfully, the opposite has been the real case! My productivity has gone up, and while I am snacking, I’m making healthier choices and taking real lunch breaks rather than working through my lunch hour, like I tend to do in the office.
When the reality of working from home for longer than a couple weeks first started to set in, I did what any normal Enneagram 2 would probably never do: I asked for help. I posted on my Instagram story asking my audience to share some of their best tips and advice for working from home successfully. Fortunately I have lots of friends who have lots of experience with this, and they did not disappoint.
Here are some of the best tips I learned while working from home.
Before I go on, a disclaimer: I’m not saying these are “rules,” or the end-all, be-all to working from home. Everyone works from home differently. Everyone is handling the current situation differently. The following tips have helped me stay on track and somewhat sane the last couple of months. I hope they help you, too, in some small way!
Make to-do lists. This sounds like an easy, “duh” thing, but you’d be surprised how much of a difference a simple to-do list makes in your daily routine. Also, make daily to-do lists, not weekly. That makes longer-term goals more attainable and helps you stay on track.
Have a dedicated work space. I don’t have room for a true desk in my apartment, so I’ve been working from my dining table. At the end of each work day, I clear off my laptop and stand, note pad, and anything else related to work, to separate work from the rest of my life. Here’s what my little setup looks like:
Time-block your calendar. I’m mad at myself for never doing this until we started working from home. This has been another huge productivity hack for me. Setting aside a block of time for one specific task ensures I’m getting that task done, rather than bouncing among six different things for a few hours at a time.
Take breaks. Working from home is mentally exhausting. Whatever routine you subscribe to, remember to take breaks, whether it’s every hour, half-hour, or every two hours. Stand up from your work space. Drink a glass of water. Color. Do something not work related for 10-15 minutes.
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Move! Speaking of taking breaks, one of my favorite ways to give my brain a rest is to do a little apartment workout. Whether it’s a short bodyweight circuit, a stroll around your neighborhood or complex, some yoga, or light stretching, use movement to break up your day. My friend does “top of the hour” workouts, which include 4-5 exercises.
Keep meal prepping! Technically I have time that I could cook for lunch every day if I wanted to. But keeping with my meal prepping schedule on the weekend makes mornings easier, and has helped maintain some semblance of normalcy at home. Plus, cooking is good stress management. I’ve made a lot of veggie skillets and sheet pan dinners.
Put on “real” clothes. Sure, it’s more comfortable to work in sweats or PJs, and it’s super tempting. But I’ve made an effort to at least put on leggings and a decent shirt. It’s still comfortable, but I feel productive getting dressed and going through my routine every morning. I will put on a nicer shirt if I have a client call or other presentation.
Keep some semblance of your normal routine. I extended my morning alarm by 15 minutes, but I’ve kept most of my routine pretty much the same. Get up, wash my face and put my contacts in, make coffee, eat my breakfast, feed Maggie Cat, then get ready and get online for work. It’s surprising how much keeping your routine helps the days go by smoothly.
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Stay hydrated. Another no-brainer. Drinking water throughout the day helps me stay focused, and helps me avoid snacking all day. Plus, water is good for you anyway.
Working from home isn’t always an easy transition, or easy for everyone, for that matter. The bottom line is, do what you need to do to be comfortable and keep any anxiety to a minimum. Keeping these things in mind has helped me stay sane while working from my kitchen table for the last six-ish weeks.
What tips for working from home would you add?