Updated: Aug 17
It’s a new age of zoom backgrounds, homeschooling, social distancing, and spending all day in yoga pants. The changes to every day life are many but one of the biggest has been the shift to working from home. This remote work situation will be temporary for some and for others it may become a permanent change as companies realize cost savings and productivity bumps with employees out of the office. Regardless of how long this change lasts for you, it’s important to find a way to make it work right now.
There is unity in the fact that many of us are trying to be productive and work from spaces and in situations that we never have before.
There is no one right way to manage working from home but there are steps you can take to help make your home situation more effective and comfortable.
As a seasoned work-from-homer who has spent countless hours on my computer and on work calls in cars, hotels, airports, friends apartments, and coffee shops, I have developed a list of must-haves and must-dos that help get me in the right mindset even when my environment is not ideal.
If you are struggling to figure out how to work from home right now, this article is for you.
Clear your desk area
Whatever is serving as your workspace for the moment needs to be clear. You should see the least amount of clutter in your vision as possible. This one is important! I could talk all day about the negative effects that clutter has on your ability to focus but for now, just trust me.
Set up your desk space
Put your desk items in place before you start working. Do you need a mouse and mousepad? How about a camera set up for video calls? Accessible office supplies? A notebook and pen? Whatever it is that you need, get it all situated in your workspace before you start work for the day.
Basket your work items
If you move locations often while working, have one bin or basket where you place all your work paraphernalia so it’s easy to move everything and still have access to the necessities you need to be productive.
Set rituals for yourself
Your rituals could be anything from a midmorning coffee while you work or going on a walk after lunch. You choose which rituals serve you but it’s important to have rituals in your workday to break up the day and give you something to look forward to.
Get dressed and out of your pajamas before you start working
It's so easy to roll out of bed and start working in pajamas or sweats but it's important to set this boundary between work and personal. Getting dressed sets the tone for your day, can elevate your mood, and helps with productivity by creating a routine.
Get up and move around often
If you have calls and don’t need to be in front of your computer for them, talk while walking around the block, your backyard, or even just pacing the floor of your room. If you don’t have time for a walk, stand up and move around for at least 1 minute. Even short bursts of movement help more than you may realize.
Stretch at least a few times per day
Many of you won't have fancy ergonomic chairs at home to ensure your posture is proper while you work and honestly, I don’t either. Stretching is critical to ensure you don’t end up hobbling around after one day of working from home. Roll your neck and shoulders, stand up and touch your toes, and squat down and curl. Do whatever feels best for you and if you want more direction, I suggest trying these 14 yoga poses.
Work sitting straight up
Do NOT work from your bed or any surface where you can sink in and lean back unless you are okay losing half of your day's productivity. It's so easy to get tired and lax when working from a soft and plush surface.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
We love using a Pomodoro timer to work for 25-30 minutes and then take 5-minute breaks. These 5 minute breaks split up your work sessions, allow you to move around, take a mental break, reset, and get back to work feeling more focused and in tune with your goals. There are many great options for timers such as this webpage timer, this cube version, or this hourglass set that has the added perk of being beautiful.
Time block your day
I am a huge proponent of time blocking as a time management tool. It seriously helps stay on task and accomplish everything on a to-do list. In short, here is how you do it:
Estimate the time it takes to complete each item on your to-do list.
Arrange your to-do list by priority.
Evaluate if you have enough time to complete all tasks for the day. If not, adjust by removing low priority items.
Map the to-do list items to your day’s working hours based on priority and where you can fit in finishing tasks without being interrupted. Pro tip - map your highest priorities to your most focused time of the day. I.e. if you are most productive in the morning, do your highest priority items then. You can do this on your calendar, in a daily planner like this, or on a simple sheet of paper.
Wear noise-canceling headphones
If you have background noise during your workday and you plan on being on videos or calls, headphones are key to minimize the noise on the call and to minimize your distractions.
Set work boundaries
When working from home, the lines between work and personal time can be blurred. It’s important to set boundaries for yourself and your work so that you take time outside of work and don’t burn out. Set specific hours for work or time block off personal time on your calendar.
Clear your desk off
At the end of the day, clear off your workspace again, charge your electronics and get the space set up for the next day.
This list is in no way extensive but it’s a good place to start to get your work-from-home life in order. If you would like more help to get yourself situated, please reach out! We do virtual organization and consulting.