Whether your working from home situation is temporary or a new situation, I have some tips for you today to make the transition easier.
Find a quiet place to work
Quiet here means relatively quiet. I actually prefer to be closer to my family than to hole up in a closed room in a different part of the house. This means, I hear them moving around and talking, but it’s not enough that it bothers me. If it’s library-quiet, then I actually find it more difficult to concentrate. However, if there is too much activity or the television seems exceptionally loud, I find I can slip my headphones on and stream some classical music to help keep my focus.
Set up an ergonomically-friendly space
When first starting out working from home, your work area may just be a small table in a corner or on the dining room table. My tip is to create a quality work-from-home setup as soon as possible. That doesn’t mean you need to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a new desk, but having a stable desk, set at a comfortable height is ideal to keep carpal tunnel issues at bay.
Here’s a crazy example. I actually have a desk set up for my remote job but I also wanted my own business laptop and supplies nearby. My husband grabbed a long piece of plywood and set it up with the desk drawer supporting the left side and a small table supporting the right. It’s actually a much better height for typing than the desk and there’s lots of legroom and writing space!
(And yes, that’s a baking rack under my laptop; another temporary solution until I get around to purchasing a cooling stand 😉)
Embrace the interruptions
Well, to a point anyway. I don’t know about you, but I get waaaay more walk-up and phone interruptions when I’m in the office. Lately, I’ve gotten less than 1/2 dozen calls each week – cut in half from normal! So when I get interruptions like “Mom, can I show you something?” I try and remember to pay attention. First of all, because I want my daughter to know she’s important to me and secondly, there are times my brain requires these breaks! (See “Move” section also). If I’m working on something that requires concentration, I will tell her she needs to wait, but most often her interruptions are quick. Research has shown that taking short breaks can increase productivity and creativity levels!
Schedule breaks to MOVE
Don’t forget to get up and move during the day. If you don’t have many interruptions, be sure you take regular breaks. Your brain needs time to process what you’ve encountered or learned. A quick stretch helps keep your posture and avoid stiffness. I make sure to stagger trips to the bathroom, refill my beverage, grab something to eat (hopefully not too often). You can even set alarms on your computer or phone if that helps.
Another tip: Working from home means I don’t have to walk to meetings or someone else’s office. Taking a mid-morning or mid-afternoon break for a walk is a great way to get in some extra steps you may be missing!
Enjoy the outdoors
If you normally work in a fluorescent (or LED)-lit cubicle, see if you can set up your workspace near a window to enjoy the sunshine and maybe even some fresh air! Another advantage of setting your workspace near a window is the natural light will help illuminate you for video calls!
Maintain working boundaries
Work during whatever you consider normal hours but when the clock tells you to stop, DO SO! It’s too easy to continue working when you don’t have to leave to go pick up the kids or head off to another commitment. Shut that computer down and walk away! Or walk out of your “office” – a.k.a. work from home space, and shut the door behind you. If you find this difficult, leave your work area, hop in the car to drive around the block. When you walk back in, then you’re “home from work”. (This trick works well too if you find difficulty breaking into your workday).
While regular breaks are necessary, make sure you don’t eat up your business/working time by jumping on social media, answering personal texts, or generally wasting time. Act as if your boss could walk through the office at any moment. If you use VPN to connect to your office, remember you are on the company’s network and they can track the websites you visit just as they can if you were physically in the office.
Check in with others
If you’re part of a team that is working remotely, or even if you’re a solopreneur, find someone you can check in with occasionally. You can use that time to bounce ideas off one another, keep each other accountable, or just chat about what’s happening in your daily lives to someone not living in your own household. I find this a good sanity break that I try and do at least once a week. Instant messages (such as Teams, Slack, etc.), texting, calling or even a quick video chat are all good ways of connecting.
Dress for the office
I’ll confess that I’m wearing slippers while typing this. And for the first few days of working from home, I relished in the fact that I could wear sweatpants or even a bathrobe if I didn’t have a video call scheduled. But dressing for “success” – making at least a minimal attempt at improving your appearance helps significantly with your attitude and state of mind. I may still wear yoga pants or jeans, but I make sure to shower, dress in a nice shirt or sweater, and complete the look with earrings. I don’t do this just because I might have a video call. It makes me feel more like working!
Daily review your priorities
Go through your lists of tasks and determine what you need to concentrate on each day. I like to even break it down into morning and afternoon tasks, knowing that I often have better focus in the mornings and can get those heavier-thinking tasks done then.
Make sure you have healthy beverages nearby at all times. This will remind you to drink often. I’ve discovered by doing this, I stay better hydrated on weekdays than I do on weekends when I’m not working!
What tips do you have for working from home?
Any that I missed? I’d love to hear your ideas!