Today I wanted to talk about working from home. With everything going on right now a LOT of you are temporarily working from home already and few of you asked for this on DM.
This is something I’ve been doing for over five years now, so I thought I’d share my best tips and tricks! Granted, some of these tips may apply more to someone who is self employed than someone just working from home (for example I assume your boss is going to expect you to keep regular working hours) but I still think these tips can be helpful for anyone working from home. Spoiler alert: it’s all about routines and effective communication!
Working From Home Tips & Tricks
(If you can!) Create a separate space for work.
This isn’t always possible. My last apartment was a tiny little studio so it was hard, but I was lucky enough to have a lofted bed area so work and sleep were alway separate.Now, I have a section of my apartment that is my office. It’s all one big room but I keep that space just for work, and I never ever (unless I’m really sick or there is an emergency!) bring my computer into my bedroom!
Keep Normal Hours.
It can be tempting to stay up later and get up early but I promise you, normal is best. I try to get into bed by 10 or 11 every night, asleep by midnight, and up around 7 or 8. When I first started working from home, I’d often stay up working until 1 or 2 am (I’m naturally a night person), only to wind up super stressed the next day as I had missed the first couple hours of emails, etc. NOT worth it!!!
Create a Morning Routine.
See also… make your bed and get dressed! I have the exact few steps every morning. I make a coffee, feed the cat, make my bed, and get ready as if I were going to work. Even if my “outfit” is just putting gym clothes on, I’ve gotten out of my pajamas!
This is so simple, but it’s important. That little bit of normalcy will help you to start the day on the right track. In the spirit of full honesty, on some days I do let myself work in sweats / PJs (it’s just so nice, hahaha) but I always make my bed. It’s the first thing I do and that little ritual sets me off on the right start.
I don’t mean more meetings and calls. Most meetings can be emails, after all. 😉 I just mean, tell everyone who needs to know your schedule and availability. Becca (who I cohost the podcast with) and I share our google calendars with each other so that we have visibility for scheduling meetings. I also share my calendar with my head of partnerships, too. I think this is most important with your supervisor. If you’re not in the office every day looking at each other it is good to have a nice amount of communication throughout the day.
I am not suggesting that you go and write an essay to your coworkers about your every move; I’m just saying that erring on the side of overcommunicating will save you a lot of headaches in the end!
Give Yourself Breaks.
It can be tempting to just work straight through. I’m so much more productive when I take small breaks throughout the office, same as I would in an office. This also means LEAVING your space.
So a little coffee break, a 15-minute walk around the block, and of course… LUNCH. I have a friend who will put on a show during lunch just to make sure she takes a true lunch break and I respect that! Stretching breaks are great too.
Have an end of day routine, too!
At the end of the day, I review my calendar for the following day (+ rest of week) and make my to-do list for the following day. That way there are no surprises and I’m ready to shut my brain off. I am not always the best at not working nights, but I really try to always end with the calendar review + fresh to-do list… it’s a nice little shutting off ritual.
Do you work from home? Would love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments section.
Thanks for the tips, Grace! My office has been trying out a work-from-home system for the past few weeks and I love it. I actually find I’m a lot more efficient because I’m not shivering in the cold at the office anymore haha. Wish this could go on forever!
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
I have been working from.home every day since I took my new job last March (2019) Yes to everything on your list!
I’m so glad you agree!
Thanks for this post, Grace. It seems like a lot of bloggers aren’t addressing what’s going on (which I can understand, since things are changing rapidly and it’s a lot to take in!), but it’s nice to read practical tips and see the current situation be discussed. Looking like I’ll have a lot of quality time with my cat once working from home is a mandate!
Thanks Joanna! Yeah, I think it’s pretty scary and that we’re all in the same boat as our readers – just trying to wrap our head around this and figure out how to stay safe.
Good advice! I just got the word that I’ll be working from home for 3 weeks, and though I usually do once or twice a month, this will be a big change.
For me, I have to put on some tinted moisturizer and lip balm to feel like I’m “at work”.
Big agree on making the bed. It is the ideal start to a day.
(Instead if signing emails Regards or Thanks, how about…)
Wash your hands,
Great post! After working primarily from home for a few years, I now keep an office outside the house as well; however, I’m self-employed and have found that I still pretty much adhere to the same set of “rules.” I 100% agree with everything here. One additional thing that works for me is that I (when possible) assign certain work activities to the time of the day that I’m most productive in that particular area. For example, I work in Marketing/PR, and have found that my best writing gets done in the morning, so I try to get to press releases and website copy out of the way first thing in the AM. 11am is my prime time, I’m typically awake, chatty, feeling creative and have had the AM to get any pressing matters taken care of, so I try to schedule any client meetings for that time… you get the point. Anyhow, it took some time and required me to be a bit more tuned into my work process, but it has been well worth it!
Thanks for sharing, Grace! Seems like so many people will be working from home. I’m hoping my company tells us tomorrow to work from home (no need to put people at risk), so I definitely appreciate the tips!!
I’ve worked from home for almost 2 years! I definitely believe a separate space makes me more productive and allows me to shut work off. In more normal times, for those contemplating a remote role, I always suggest having a weekly call with someone who is in the office. It is good to get a temperature check of what the mood is, what’s on people’s minds, what other people are working on, and of course the fun water cooler stuff – who got engaged, is pregnant, etc. It helps me feel more connected.
Thank you for your tips! I made a nice little workspace in the corner of my living room in my tiny apartment and it is going well so far. I agree don’t take the laptop to the bedroom unless it is an emergency.
Oh good!!! I’m so glad. And yes – laptop ALWAYS stays out of the bedroom for me!