Working from Home: Practical Tips To Make it Work
If someone told us a couple of months ago, that a virus would come and turn our lives upside down, forcing us to stay home, and away from each other we would have probably laughed in their face. But here we are, in April of 2020, and the world is facing what is considered one of its biggest challenges of the last decades. Many of us are, quite honestly, so lucky to be able to work from home. But if this isn’t something you’re used to, it’s gonna take some adjusting, testing and figuring it out. But you don’t have to do it all by yourself.
Here are some of our team’s practical tips for making working from home, work to your advantage.
1. Plan your day.
Sounds simple, I know, but it’s especially important while working from home that you plan your day with as much detail as possible. That includes scheduling in workout times, meal prepping, cooking, calls with friends and family… everything that you plan to do, both workwise and personally. The more organized you get the better results you’ll achieve, plus it will help make you feel in control of what you can control and ease off some of the anxiety and sense of chaos.
2. Set a wake-up time, shower and get dressed as if you were going to work.
There’s nothing like being in the midst of some sort of emergency to acknowledge the importance of the simple things. And this is one you don’t want to neglect. It’s crucial for our emotional and psychological equilibrium that we maintain a sense of normalcy when things are a bit crazy. So set your alarm clock, shower and get dressed the way you would if you were heading out to the office. Spending the day in your pajamas will only make you feel thrown off and unmotivated. So put on your perfume, make-up, and accessories, and make a ritual out of it, looking groomed will help set your day so that you feel on top of your game.
3. Separate your workspace from your leisure space.
We are creatures of habit. Setting up our environments so that the space itself cues us that it's time to work is incredibly helpful. So if you don’t have your office or workstation at home, get creative with what you have, and as much as possible try to have a small space that you use only for work and keep it separate from your chilling out space.
4. Create a ritual.
What’s the first thing you do when you sit down to work? Some people in our team will start by journaling, some people have essential oils and rub it in their hands, some people will turn on their music, some people will moisturize their hands and enjoy the scent of the hand cream, others will light a candle… but we each have our own little rituals. Something that is both particularly enjoyable to us and tells our brain, ok it’s time to work, focus.
5. Pay attention to your posture.
We’re all familiar with that annoying neck and back pain from sitting in front of our computer all day long. So have a comfortable and ergonomic work chair, elevate your computer to eye level (use books if you don’t have a laptop stand), and regularly draw your belly in towards the spine, lift the chest and lift out of the low back using those back muscles, draw the shoulder blades down, and slightly tuck your chin in.
If you’re not used to doing this, just write these cues on a post-it and place it on your computer screen so that you have that visual reminder. With time, effort and a little patience this will become more natural and you’ll immediately pick yourself up when you notice you’ve slouched down. Trust me your body will thank you and you’ll save some money in physical therapy.
6. Don’t try to do it all at the same time.
This one reinforces the importance of planning and scheduling all the different activities of your day so that you’re not tempted to go do the dishes in the middle of writing that press release. Do what you would normally do, take care of the home and personal chores either in your lunch break or once you finish off work. Of course, this doesn’t have to be rigid, flexibility is one of the perks of working from home but too much flexibility leads to chaos, so sticking to this as much as possible really helps to keep us focused and productive. And you can always finish work a bit earlier and go about your own personal chores and duties.
7. keep your priorities where you can see them.
Are you clear on what your priorities for the year, semester, month, week and day are? Are they within sight? A couple of post-its on the wall or a priority board can really help you achieve them.
You don’t want to have more than 2 or 3 priorities each day when it comes to work. So write them out and keep them where you can see them so that you’re clear on what’s most important that day and you make sure it gets done no matter what. Keep it as simple and clear as you can.
8. Have regular breaks.
Alright, this one is controversial. Some people like to sit at their desks and work until they get done whatever it is they’re doing. Some people need regular breaks. But in general, science tells us that most people can’t focus for very long and regular breaks are a great way of boosting creativity and productivity. You can dance to just one song, you can do 20 push-ups, listen to a short meditation, grab some fruit, prepare some tea or juice. Whatever works for you, right? But do take some breaks to re-energize and refocus.
9. Plan and prepare your meals ahead.
If you have to decide each and every day if you’re gonna order food, or what to cook, it will take up way too much mental space, time and resources, plus you’re more likely to eat unhealthy food. You end up with decision fatigue, and you spend more money and time when there’s a better way. And it only takes about 10 minutes of planning on a Sunday to decide on your major meals, what you need to buy to cook them, and a useful little tip is to only cook once per day. So if you choose to cook for dinner make sure you make enough for the next day’s lunch.
10. Sign off the workday.
The temptation to sign off one more thing of your to-do list after dinner is even greater when you work from home. Because the boundaries aren’t as clear. At what time do you want to be done with work? And what do you do each day to sign off from work?
Again, having a ritual will tell your brain that you’ve checked off your priorities and didn’t leave any loose ends so that you can transition to your personal time. So a few ideas are:
Go through your to-do list,
Make the next day’s to-do list,
Check-out with your team, make sure you’ve answered their questions and didn’t forget anything.
Close off your computer.
11. Honor the flexibility.
And last but not least, honor the flexibility you have to work from home. Working from home is often glamorized and anyone who has been doing it for some years knows it’s not the case and that the struggle is real. But we all agree that flexibility is definitely a perk, so having these guidelines really helps bring in some structure and order to our days, and some days you just have to go with the flow and do the best with what you have. Don’t you think?