Working from home can be equal parts relaxing, and stressful. I would know, I’ve done it. Thrice.
If you’re new around here, here’s the spark notes version. I spent nearly 3 years working fully remote as a full-time marketing communications manager. Working from home was my jam, and I totally mastered the gig. But said job was super lax and I skated by with doing the bare minimum. Fast forward to my current job: we generally work from home one day a week— and I live for those days (Wednesdays). It’s a nice break from the commute, ya know? But being at a startup I have more responsibilities, frequent conference calls, and deadlines with tighter turnaround. Working from home is not as chill as I remember it being. It’s a lot harder to unplug, and disconnect from work at the end of the day or work week. You have to be self-motivated to get shit done, and you get burnt out much easier.
Of course with California’s Shelter in Place order, we’re all remote, all the time. That’s our new norm.
Going from working fully remote, to having an in-office job, to being forced to stay home indefinitely all within 14 months has been an adjustment. What worked for me working from home in 2016 doesn’t work now. So, how do you make the most of your new office?
Here are 10 easy tips to make working from home actually work.
- Wake up at the same time you normally would. A big part of mastering working from home is consistency and discipline. Just because you can sleep in ‘til 8am, roll out of bed, and immediately open your laptop doesn’t mean you should. Set your alarm for the same time you normally would if you were going into an office and get your day started early. You’ll feel better for it later.
- Immediately brush your teeth, and your hair. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t days where I brushed my teeth once— at 8pm. When you’re not leaving the house it’s easy to let go of your regular routine. Things like washing your face and putting on your serums, brushing your teeth, and combing your hair can easily take the backseat. Don’t let yourself go just because you’re confined to the four walls of your living room.
- Light a candle. Working from home versus in the office means I can choose my own ambiance. I love burning candles throughout the day, they’re simultaneously calming and motivating. I have almost burned through half of an Anthropologie candle in nearly two weeks. So, I bought two more. Sue me.
- Spend the time you would normally be commuting on self care. Normally I have an hour and a half commute door to door. Now that we’re working from home for the foreseeable future, I try to wake up at 7am, get in a workout, rinse off, do a face mask, and then start working by 8:30am. It starts my day off on a positive, and productive, foot which sets the mood for the rest of the day.
- Set up a designated work space. I’ll say this once: working from your bed is not ideal. Sure, it sounds great, but it’s not an ergonomic situation. Set up a designated work space and commit to working from there for 80% of your work day. I work at our kitchen counter or dining table until about 3pm and then I’ll finish the day out in my room.
- Take breaks, and take them often. If you were in the office, you’d likely be taking coffee breaks, walks around the block with your coworker, and long lunches. Don’t deprive yourself of breaks just because you’re at home. I usually take a long walk during my lunch for a change of scenery. It’s refreshing and helps reset my mind.
- Listen to a lot of music. Music helps me get in my groove. I have different playlists for when I’m answering emails, writing blog content, miscellaneous tasks, etc. Having music on in the background helps me drown out any outside distractions and get into a steady work flow.
- Don’t turn the TV on until the sun goes down. This one is hard (especially as the days get longer), but I really try to avoid Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ until the end of the day. I find that if I watch TV while I work, I often end up in the land of procrastination. Instead, I make sure I get through my workout, work, dinner, and personal blog to-do list before vegging out. You’ll feel much more relaxed knowing you were productive before you unplugged.
- Unplug every night, and on the weekends. When you work from home, your end times get blurred. It’s easy to keep working long into the night and weekends, because you don’t physically have to log-off and leave the office. You’ve likely heard the saying, “don’t bring your work home with you”— and, well, they were onto something. Set a hard stopping time each evening, and only work on the weekends if you absolutely have to. This will help prevent burn out.
- Disconnect from the news. If you’re anything like me, the Covid-19 news is causing you more stress than your tightest deadline. I make an effort to disconnect from the news during the work week so I can separate the stress of what’s going on in the world with my own work stresses. Plus, the news has been known to make me spiral. And nobody has time for that.