I woke up this morning to a text from one of my best friends telling me her company has instructed all of their employees to work from home until May 1st due to coronavirus. That is more than 45 days out and for people who may have never worked from home before, can be a completely intimidating time frame. After the allure of wearing sweatpants and being near your pets wears off, you do have to be productive. Having worked in both a corporate office and a home office, I can tell you that working from home can often be more challenging. In an effort to help anyone who has recently faced a corporate mandate to telework, here are my best work from home tips and how to be productive.
Work From Home Tips + How To Be Productive
First things first, I’ve been working from home for more than 8 years now. I am not an expert, but I’ve worked from home more years than I’ve worked in a corporate office, so I have a pretty firm grasp on what works well for me and what doesn’t. I’ll start by sharing the reality of my workspace. It’s not Pinterest-pretty or photographed by a professional (I actually just snapped it while writing this), but it’s functional and that is the only thing that matters.
Here is how I work from home and remain productive:
Maintain a schedule. Get up at a certain time, make my coffee and settle in. This is so important for me, because I know that even though I am at home (a place most consider their ‘relaxing’ space), I have a job to do and that leaves no time for sitting on my couch watching Netflix, which often feels tempting, or hitting snooze on my alarm (also tempting). After I make my coffee, I go directly upstairs to my office.
Tackle e-mails first, then tasks. I know myself and I know that I can’t get anything done when I have unread email notifications, so I always head over to my email to get that squared away first. If I’m being honest, I check my email before I’m even out of bed, delete what I can (shopping emails, unnecessary marketing emails, spam email, etc) and leave the rest for my desktop.
Use a schedule throughout the day. Once I get my emails done, I make a list in order of most important to least important on a piece of paper of things that need done that day. I try to break it up into “what needs done before lunch” and “what needs done before close of business”.
Take breaks. I take a lunch break, which usually includes eating and taking a walk around my neighborhood. Working from home can feel isolating, so getting outside is very important for me, but I do time it to make sure I’m home and ready to get back to work at a specific time. That said, I also take my entire lunch ‘break’ to clear my mind, call friends or family, listen to a podcast/music, or meet up with a fellow friend to walk.
Tips For Working From Home
Now that I covered how my schedule works, it’s important to note a couple things I do that set me up in the best possible way to be productive and successful in working from home.
Create a workspace. I have a dedicated room in my home that serves as my office, but I recognize this may not be the case for all. That is okay! Clear off a portion of your kitchen table or dining room table and reserve it as your sole workspace. I have learned that for me, I need a straight back chair and no television distractions to be 100% on top of my game.
Set boundaries. Most of my friends and family know that even though I work from home, I’m still working. That means I’m not up for long phone calls or extended FaceTimes, going out beyond my lunch hour, etc. This can be difficult, because sometimes ‘work from home’ gets the connotation that you can slack off, but work still needs to get done. For me, this means setting business hours and sticking to them without interruption.
Minimize distractions. I touched on this above, but I work best when I’m not tempted by distractions. For me, this means television, pets, and social media. Try to minimize anything you know might be a temptation to avoid work.
Clean my space. I know, this is a weird one, but I know that in order for me to be most productive, I can’t be in a messy or unorganized space. At the end of each day, I organize papers on my desk and files on my computer so that when I sit down the next morning, everything is ready to get started.
Like I said, I am not an expert in working from home. In a time that feels very uncertain for many people, I am trying my best to share what I know or what might be potentially helpful for others. If you have worked from home and have a tip for success, please feel free to share it below in the comments. I hope this is a helpful resource for those that are trying to navigate a switch from their corporate office to a home setting and please let me know how I can be most helpful to you.