While COVID-19 has many of us quarantined in our homes, I’ve been seeing a lot of social media posts on how people are handling their new office space. For some, it’s opened the door to a fun and relaxed environment. For others, it’s been a tough transition filled with stress, disorganization, and a little bit of chaos. As someone who’s been working from home for a few years now, I’d like to share a few tips on remote work and how to survive the trials of working from home.
Before I begin, I’d like to say that these will not work for everyone. I understand that people are struggling with different challenges. Some people have kids at home, some people don’t have a home office space, and some people have other distractions hindering their ability to focus. Nonetheless, these tips may come in handy regardless of your WFH situation and may even spark ideas for best practices of your own.
Getting into it, here are my six tips for working from home.
Set Your Schedule
One of the most crucial parts of working from home has been setting a work schedule and sticking to it. Being on time to your desk at home is the same as being on time to your desk in the office; people are counting on you to be there at a particular time, and it provides a concrete window for communication. Adhering to this schedule allows you to respect the expectations of your coworkers, clients, and organization as a whole.
Define Your Work Area
I don’t work on projects or assignments when I’m not in my home office. It’s the separation between church and state: I’ve got my work stuff on that side of the house, and I have my personal life and everything else on the opposite side. It’ll help draw a boundary and keep your life organized, especially in this time of confusion and uncertainty.
Dress to Impress Yourself
This tip will be a no-go for many of you. I’ve given this advice to a dozen friends and family members starting remote work, but it boils down to personal preference. Just as I would shower, shave, and dress up for going into the office, I do the same for being at home. However, it hasn’t always been like this.
For the first two months of remote work, I couldn’t have cared less about my appearance. I wasn’t going to see anyone, so what was the point? Yet, I started to feel lazy and sluggish, and I didn’t feel like a professional. I felt unproductive, so I decided to suit up for working in my home office. Not only did it increase my productivity, but it gave me confidence and even helped me abide by the schedule I had set for myself. When I look the part, I feel the part and do the part. It’s been a saving grace for my work.
Again, it might not work for you. I know people who are happily wearing fleece bottoms and a tank top right now doing an exceptional job. However, if you’ve been wearing the same thing to your desk as you wore to bed and aren’t feeling great about your output, I recommend a shower, some khakis, and an ironed shirt.
Oh, the snacking. That’s what a lot of people are doing right now: snacking, snacking, and snacking. Some of you may have already devoured a week’s worth of snacks since you’ve been working from home. Although the indulgence is fun (like, really fun), it’s not a sufficient diet. The problem is twofold: it’s rough on the gut, and harsh on the wallet.
More than likely, you’re snacking isn’t giving you the nutrition your body needs, nor is it helping you save money or minimize trips to the grocery store, which are both very important right now. So, I suggest refraining from over-snacking with one healthy tip: practice meal prepping!
There are two ways you can do this: you can prepare all your meals and snacks for Monday through Thursday (go crazy on Fridays) on Sunday, or you can make daily meals the night before. I stick to the latter because it allows me to be creative with my meals instead of having the same thing four days in a row. Whichever path you choose, it helps you know exactly what you’ll be eating the next day. You don’t just have to make three meals either — a lot of people do five or six small meals a day — whatever your eating schedule is, prepare your meals before the week/day begins, and you’ll be set.
Think about your normal in-office day-to-day; how many little breaks do you have throughout the day? Short chats, walks to the restroom, small talk, snacks in the breakroom, water cooler visits, coffee breaks — your day is filled with breaks. Now you’re working from home, and all those lovely little breaks are gone.
Although you could’ve skipped a few of those breaks in the first place, it’s still vital to your sanity to get away from your computer every now and then. As a copywriter, writer’s block isn’t uncommon in my life, and when it happens, one of my favorite things to do is a chore like unloading the dishwasher or doing a load of laundry. It allows me to take a break from my work, accomplish something easy, and then get back to the job at hand. So, get up and walk around the house. Maybe tighten the loose knob on a dresser drawer, replace that dead light bulb, wipe down the countertops. These are all easy wins, and every easy win will help you focus and tackle the big ones.
(*Remember: these are small, simple, quick tasks. Don’t go making a day of these chores — you’ll want to commit to a short task and then return to work.*)
This one is a given, but you’re typically going to do far less exercise working from home than working in an office. When you’re working in the office, you at least have a short walk from your car to your desk, desk to your car, and car to your home. When you’re working from home, you have the walk to your desk, walk to your kitchen, and walk to your couch. That’s about it. It doesn’t have to be elaborate workouts with dumbbells and resistance bands; whatever additional exercise you can get in during the day — walking, going up stairs, lunges, squats, push-ups, etc. — will suffice.
A lot of physical trainers and fitness outlets are offering home exercise courses online too, so if you have 30–45 minutes for a workout, Google “home workouts,” and you’ll have hundreds of options.
Working from home is not always easy. Conceptually, it seems like a sort of vacation; however, it presents challenges to your productivity and mental/physical health just as working in an office does. Fortunately, in many cases, there are solutions to these challenges, and with the right information, you can hurdle them with ease. My hope is this article is the right information for someone.
These are my tips, but I’d like to hear some of yours! Feel free to comment below with some of the ways you’re staying productive and healthy at home. Stay safe, wash your hands, and stay at home.
This post was originally published here.