Hello to all the newbie remote workers out there!
Sure, you were never expecting to be a work from home employee, but thanks to Coronavirus, here you are! Truth be told, even after the Coronavirus pandemic, these remote work tips will still be applicable for lots of folks. And, hey – I’m always trying to find the positives in things so maybe remote work will become even more common for some people after this health crisis is over because so many companies are going to realize their employees are just as, if not more, productive working at home than they are in an office.
Here’s the thing. I KNEW working in an office was unhealthy for me both physically and mentally. I was getting sick all the time from the constant ebb and flow of germs – flu was going around this coworker’s child’s school and this person’s kid came home coughing and they swear they aren’t contagious (um, insert eye roll here because if your kid caught sick then you got sick then you can DEFINITELY get me sick, too). It was ALWAYS something and if a coworker or their kid had it or even thought about having it, I was catching it, too. Mentally speaking, raise your hand if you’ve gotten caught up in workplace gossip, politics, or drama before? Exactly. Enough said with that one.
The reality of working from home for me is:
– I’m entirely more productive
– I eat healthier
– I have so much time given back to me not commuting to and from work
– I’m happier – I mean you’d be happy too if your dog was in the same room with you all day while you worked too. 🙂
I’ve had this blog drafted for quite a while but with the whole Coronavirus ordeal, I’ve noticed so many people are being thrown into the work from home life and aren’t exactly sure how to tackle it. I figured what better time than now to share my tips.
Listen. These tips aren’t exactly rocket science. They’re truly nothing special, BUT when you combine them all, they lead to healthier work from home lifestyle choices and a more productive work day.
1) Designate a workspace for yourself
Whether this is a temporary setup because you’re working from home because of the Coronavirus or it’s become a permanent thing for you, designating a workspace will help you mentally separate work from life. If you’re working from home permanently, good for you and welcome to the best working years of your life! You definitely need a separate desk space (hint hint, not just a desk or table in your bedroom!) to work from. You need a designated environment that your mind will recognize as “going to work.” If this is temporary because of the Coronavirus or any other illness floating around the office, your separate space might just be the dining room table and that’s ok too. Just make sure you can mentally designate that space as your office.
2) Take breaks
I’m the worst at this! I need to take my own advice a bit when I tell you, you took breaks in the office chatting with people, stretching your legs, stepping outside to get some fresh air – you need to keep that up when you work from home too. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day when there aren’t so many things and people to distract you. I’ve found myself rarely standing up from my desk way too many times and now I have to deliberately make myself take breaks. Stand up and stretch, take 10 minutes to brew some new coffee and grab some fresh air. Whatever you need to do, your mind needs to take a few minutes off so you can recharge and refocus your energy.
3) Don’t forget to eat lunch
One of the best and worst things about the office life was always going out for lunch. It was my mental break for the day and I went out to eat EVERY DAY. On one side, it was great because it forced myself to take a few minutes to get my mind off work, get some fresh air, listen to music on the drive to get food, and come back with a clean slate in my brain. On the other hand, the food was unhealthy and it’s super expensive to eat out every day like that. It’s so easy when you’re at home to not take that break. You can get so focused on the work since you’re likely at a more comfortable desk and environment than you are in an office that it’s easy to just slide on by and work through lunch. Don’t do it! Fuel your mind and your body, make some lunch, eat the food. Don’t neglect yourself just because you work from home.
4) Keep your time in check
Most people think working from home is easy right? I think the biggest misconception about working from home is that it’s easy to multitask and do personal stuff during the day, but this really couldn’t be farther from the truth. I often find myself working more hours and more days of the week because of the convenience. While I’m great about taking a couple of breaks during the day to get some fresh air, to grab some coffee, or to stretch, I often find myself not even realizing how late I’m working. It’s actually easier to work more when you work from home. I find myself grabbing dinner and sitting back down to keep working all the time or during the weekends it can often be, just one email, let me respond to this. I’ve recently started setting more boundaries for myself and while I’ll never let anything urgent sit in my inbox, I do make sure to stop working at a decent hour and I restrict my weekend working activity to Sunday nights to get a jump start on the week.
5) Have a sign on the door that says Please Don’t Knock or Ring the Doorbell
If you get a lot of deliveries (Amazon, am I right?) and you work from home, consider putting a sign like this on your front door – especially if you have a dog! The general rule for this is – the more important the conference call, the louder the dog will bark so use this as one way to eliminate as much of the barking as possible.
6) Get out of your pajamas
Ok, so the first few days or weeks of working from home in your pajamas are GLORIOUS. Not going to lie, I probably stayed in my pajamas for at least the first year of working from home. It was unhealthy. It was less productive. I was sluggish. Then I kept reading about everyone saying you should get dressed each morning even when you work from home. I don’t mean office attire (unless you’re video chatting and it’s expected!) but I do mean, get up and put yoga pants on instead of flannel pajamas and a t-shirt instead of a sleep shirt. I know you’re probably thinking how different is it working in yoga pants versus your pajamas? It’s so different. It’s mental, I know. But, making the change from pajamas to real clothes, whether it’s just yoga pants and a t-shirt or yoga pants and a nice top since you have that important video call today will change your mental status from “lounging at home” to “working at home.” I had no idea how important this was for over a year after I started working from home. Now, I get dressed every day, ok *almost* every day and also pretty much never before 10:00am so all the calls I have that sometimes start at 7:00am – definitely still happen in pajamas.
7) Change your scenery
Whether it’s stepping outside and working from your patio or porch for a few hours while the weather is nice or it’s going to your neighborhood coffee shop or library, sometimes a change of scenery is good for you. Think about it. When you’re in an office, you tend to find yourself bouncing from meeting room to desk to another conference room. Your mind doesn’t have time to get stale, but sitting at your same desk all day every day even on those conference calls will wear your mind down. Don’t be afraid to change up your routine a bit to mix up your view. It might be as simple as rearranging your desk to see if you like the new setup and it might be as big as sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch for an hour. I actually go as far as to have a second monitor outside so I can still work with two screens. I hate being trapped inside so when the weather is really great, I’ll take my office out to it. That’s my favorite perk of working from home!
Working from home is not something to take advantage of; it’s a privilege. So whether your work from home situation is temporary or permanent, make sure you take care of yourself and your employer – be a good human – do good work – enjoy the work from home life!
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