Tips for Working from Home
Many “non-essential” workers are now finding themselves working from home or stuck at home without a job because of the coronavirus quarantine. This can be a new and challenging time for many. I’ve worked from home since 2007 and can offer tips on how to do it effectively. I know this is an uncertain and challenging time, but a little structure and routine can go a long way to helping you maintain a good lifestyle and your sanity.
After working for a large corporation downtown for over ten years, I had grown accustomed to being surrounded by professionals every day. While working from home can provide solace and quiet, it can also be quite lonely.
There is no water cooler in which to catch up on the latest office gossip or hear about your co-worker’s weekend plans. Working from home is a whole new ballgame and you have to adjust your mindset to do it successfully.
Here are some tips that I can share based on 13 years of working from home.
Now that the kids and my husband are at home as well – I’ve included some tips for keeping them busy and “working” during this time as well.
Stick to a Routine
Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time. Set and keep regular office hours. If you know you work best in the morning, then block your calendar to get the most important projects done first thing. Turn off your email and use time blocking techniques to schedule out your day.
If you have school-age kids, they typically have their online school program from 9 – 3. That is a great time to keep office hours. If you have little ones at home, you may only be able to work while they nap, or in the evening after you put them to sleep, and that’s ok, as long as it’s consistent on a daily basis.
Now that we are all homeschooling kids from home, expect that you may have distractions and just roll with it. Kids may need help with a math problem or daily reading. Help them and then get back to work as quickly as you can.
Make checking in with your kids part of the daily routine. If you need to schedule it – then do so. Kids with unlimited and unrestricted computer access can get lost, distracted and off task. Check-in with them hourly to make sure they are focused and on track.
It’s important to have a start time and an end-time. People who work from home typically work more than those in the office. Be sure to turn it off at the end of your workday.
Dress The Part
As enticing as it is to work in our pajamas all day, it isn’t a great work habit and also sets a bad example for your children. Dress for the social life you want, not the social life you have.
Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth. Put on some bright colors. It is amazing how our dress can impact our mood. If you have kids, make them get dressed and ready for school every day as well – even if it’s just online
Weekends are great for pajama days. If you want to make it fun for the kids during this time, come up with a themed dress day – like camo day, green day, stripes day. Keep those creative juices flowing during this time to keep the family happy.
Set a Designated Work and Play Zone
If you have an office, use it! If not – find a spot in the house that you can use consistently as your workspace. Help the kids find their daily workspace as well. While the kitchen table is less than ideal because you need to pick it up every night, it may work to have the family sit around the table for their daily “work” time to keep everyone accountable. Otherwise, find a spot for a desk in the living room, use that guest bedroom, create a makeshift classroom in your kid’s rooms.
Surround your workspace with items that are functional and help you get your job done without having to get up 10 times a day. Keep your cell phone, printer paper, a phone charger, a printer, and anything else you need within reach. You can also decorate your space to make it conducive to a friendly work environment. Add a plant or some flowers to get some fen Shui going. It can help relax you during this stressful time.
It is important you think through a separate space for work and for relaxation. For children, help them identify a place where they can go to retreat when stressed. You can make this place cozy by using blankets, pillows, cushions, scarves, beanbags, tents, and forts.
It is good to know that even when we are on top of each other, we have our own special place to go to be alone.
Get Fresh Air and Exercise
Taking a break is essential when you work from home. Get outside at least once a day, for at least 20 minutes. The fresh air and sunshine will do your body good. Take the dog for a walk, get the mail, take a family walk around the block for recess. Just find some time to move each day.
If you don’t feel comfortable going outside, there are many YouTube videos that offer free workout classes, and if all else fails, turn on the music and have a dance party! Check out all the free workouts available online here.
Reach out to others, at least once daily for thirty minutes. Try to do FaceTime, Skype, phone calls, Google Hangouts to connect with other people to seek and provide support. Host a virtual happy hour at the end of the day to reconnect with your friends and catch up.
Don’t forget to do this for your children as well. Set up virtual playdates with friends daily via FaceTime, Facebook Messenger Kids, Zoom, etc, your kids miss their friends, too!
Stay Hydrated and Eat Well
This one may seem obvious, but stress and eating often don’t mix well, and we find ourselves over-indulging, forgetting to eat, and avoiding food. Drink plenty of water – experts say we should drink half our body weight in water every day.
Eat some good and nutritious foods, and challenge yourself to learn how to cook something new! Check out the list of foods that boost your immune system and try to incorporate those foods into your diet.
We’ve been providing healthy budget-friendly recipes on the site, try something new that you’ve always wanted to make during this time.
Lastly, remind yourself daily that this is temporary. Find lightness and humor in each day.
There is a lot to be worried about, and with good reason. It seems in the midst of this quarantine that it will never end. Turn off the news, get off social media, play with your kids. Engage in a long term project like a large puzzle. Play Monopoly or board games to help the time pass.
It is terrifying to think of the road stretching ahead of us and for how long it will last. Please take time to remind yourself that although this is very scary and difficult, it is a season of life and it will pass.
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