I’ve been working from home for a year and a few months. Previously I worked as a Doctor of Physical Therapy interacting with no less than 30 people a day. I had two assistants and my day was always planned. When I left my job and became a Full-Time Blogger, I had no sense of time management. I had no interactions with other human beings outside of social media. It took 3 months for me to adjust to working from home and it was not easy. Now that the Coronavirus is spreading like wildfire, the main aim is to limit the spread. People are being told to stay home and schools are being closed. The best course is to stay home and limit exposure to other human beings. For many this is a blessing and a curse.
A blessing that some people have the privilege of being able to work for home when many cannot. Think of all the city workers and healthcare providers and many more who have occupations where working from home isn’t possible. People have bills to pay and families to care for. That is the curse. That our economy isn’t set up where everyone has the privilege and also that small businesses are being hit hard in various ways because of this. For those who have never worked from home on a long term basis more than a day or two, it may be a shock to the system to experience. So as someone who’s been there, here are my 5 tips for working from home without going crazy and actually getting work done.
GET READY FOR THE DAY
Don’t work in your pajamas. You’ll end up on the couch binge watching Netflix and eating a bowl of cereal. Get up at your normal time that you would for work and get ready. Shower, brush your teeth, make your bed and put on some clothes. I even take it a step further and do my hair and makeup even though I rarely leave the house. Mostly because I’m going to film Instastories and what to look presentable and not like I just rolled outta bed. Now they don’t have to be your normal work attire, especially if you wear a suit or business clothing but put on something you wouldn’t normally sleep in. It’s a great way to trick your body into being in work mode and to set the tone for the work day.
CHOOSE A DESIGNATED SPACE FOR WORK
If you’re at home it’s already going to be hard to focus so it’s best to choose a nice quiet space to work. It’d be great if you had a table where you could sit whether that be a desk or the kitchen table. It’s probably best to work in a room that doesn’t have a television. Places I wouldn’t recommend working in your home include: on the couch or in your bed. Those are the two places you are least likely to actually work. You’ll end up taking a nap or watching some television. Trust me. Make sure where ever you sit has some good back support or take a thick towel, roll it up and place it in the small of your back for proper posture. Here’s a quick tip, from a Doctor of Physical Therapy, make sure your computer or laptop is eye level. I usually sit my laptop on a few shoe boxes to keep from getting neck pain during the day from looking down so much at my computer. When you’re done working, put your work away in a designated space and leave it there and go into another space. I love having a home office because I can leave my work in that room and feel like I’m escaping even if it’s into my bedroom or living room.
When working from home there are so many distractions: children, street noise, smartphones and televisions. Usually when working outside the home there’s a limit to external stimuli like televisions and the ability to use your phone. I never work in the same room as my phone unless I’m actually working on my phone while editing photos or videos. When working in my designated work space, I make sure my phone is in another room. I also don’t work in the same room as a television. At my old 9-5 I played music for the office so that’s something I still like to do to put me in work mode. If you don’t need your phone for work you can silence it for extended periods while you work.
KEEP A REGULAR WORK DAY SCHEDULE
This is probably the hardest thing to do when working from home but designating a space for work and keeping your same work schedule helps. Make sure you have breakfast and if you work a regular 9-5, work from 9am-12pm. Then I encourage your to have a nice long hour lunch. Make yourself some lunch or order something and leave that work space. Walk around, stretch your legs, check your phone and relax. Start working again at 1pm-5pm. One you’re done with work at 5pm put your work away and change into comfortable clothing. It’s imperative that you STOP working. It’s really easy to get into a groove and work through lunch and dinner with the premise of trying to get it all done in one go. That mentality will burn you out quick. Stick to working the same amount hours a day at home that you’d normally do at your 9-5. If you work for yourself, having a set number of work hours daily is a godsend for limiting work burnout. Entrepreneurs are usually self-motivated and love to work because we are doing what we love but even so we too need a break and to set work/life boundaries and limits. If you’re still have difficulty maintaining focus, set 1 hour timers on your cell phone and when the alarm goes off give yourself a 5 minute break before starting the next hour of work. This is a a trick I do when I really need to focus but keep getting side tracked.
PHONE A FRIEND
If you’re used to being very social at your job and now working from home, that can be a bit shocking to your system. Even though previously I dealt with and spoke at length with 100s of people a week, I actually quite enjoy being alone and not speaking to a single human being for hours. But that’s just the introvert in me who loves my alone time. Other people need that external stimuli and that’s exactly what FaceTime, Facebook Portal and WhatsApp are for! On my breaks I frequently call or FaceTime my friends who also work from home. You can just as easily call a friend as well. I speak to my friend Rose pretty regularly even though she has a full-time job and even if it’s just a 5 minute call it makes me feel a lot more social. Chances are you know someone who works from home. Phone them sometimes and have a little water cooler session. It really does help with the social isolation you can feel when working from home.
GET THE LOOK
There you have it folks. My 5 tips for working from home without going crazy and actually getting work done. As always be safe and sanitary out there. Drop any tips you have down below for creating a good work environment at home! I’d love to know what you all think.