The American workforce is a dynamic mosaic, with a myriad of pieces making it beautiful, even breathtaking, at times. No two businesses seem to operate identically, and yet the differences in operations don’t necessarily mean better or worse. In fact, we’ve seen some pop-up food trucks achieve similar success as long-established brick-and-mortar restaurants. Still, historically workers have headed out to work each day. Now, however, the business world has been turned upside down, and more employees than ever are working from home.
At its best, working from home can be a symphony of instruments, all playing in harmony from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Conversely, it can be a cacophony, at worst, with confusion, stress, and dysfunction at the center of it all. So, let’s discuss seven tips for working from home. That way, with some practice, you can experience the good things that working from home can bring.
7 Tips for Working from Home
Now, we could probably easily list 50 things that we should be doing to be good stay-at-home employees. However, no one has time to read a list like that these days. As much as we might feel bored and claustrophobic lately, we still have things to get done, when working from home. So, here are seven simple things you can do each day in your new home office.
1: Establish a Schedule
Establish a schedule, and stick to it! Determine a hard beginning and end to your workday, if at all possible. After establishing your schedule, though, give it a few days to work out the kinks. Then, adjust your schedule as necessary, based on what you’ve observed about how it is going. Make to-do lists for each slot on your schedule, as well. Be intentional about checking items off your to-do list so that you feel you have accomplished something while working from home.
Also, give yourself permission to ignore calls, emails, and texts that don’t fall within your established working hours. Finally, within your schedule be sure to make time for a consistent bedtime routine. Sleeping is essential to not only feeling good, but also to helping keep your immune system in check.
Tip: It is important to communicate your office hours with your boss and clients, so that everyone is clear on expectations.
2: Dress for Success
Get dressed each workday! Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to get out your suit and tie or a dress and heels. Aim for comfortable business casual, though. Remember, you will still feel the way you look, even if you are only on Zoom meetings or don’t see anyone all day while when working from home.
Tip: If you are having a hard time getting motivated to change clothes, make it a goal to put on anything other than the pajamas you slept in. This will create boundaries with your outfits, and it will help lift your spirits.
3: Set Boundaries and Establish Territories
Speaking of creating boundaries with your outfits, be sure to set boundaries with your new coworkers. That’s right—your new co-workers are anyone under the same roof as you during the quarantine. For example, designate areas within your home that are assigned to each person. Children included! While everyone is piled in on top of each other, it is important for people to feel like they have their own space.
Tip: If there is one room in the house that has better lighting than the other rooms, consider making it the “rotating office.” In other words, establish a main office for each person, but allow a different person to occupy the rotating office each day. Sunlight can be immensely helpful in boosting moods, so it would only be fair for everyone to have the opportunity to bask in the rays.
4: Limit Social Media
For some people, spending all day on social media is part of their job. For most of us, however, the time we spend checking our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts should be the exception to the rule, not the rule itself. Learn to limit social media while working from home. For example, block time in your schedule to check your social media accounts, but make sure the ratio of work-to-social media is proportionate to the way it would be if you are working at the office.
Tip: Socialize while getting coffee, having a snack, eating lunch, afternoon snack, and cocktails. Then, work in between. Avoid mindless scrolling, which can take you down a rabbit hole and quickly waste your precious time. Instead, try interacting with friends via DMs or learning something new. In other words, make your social media time purposeful, if you can.
5: Vary Your Activities
Trust me—if you do the same task all day long while you are working form home, you’ll get bored and burn out quickly. Find a way to vary your activities. For example, if you are a sales rep, avoid spending your entire day cold calling. That’s a recipe for disaster, and you will quickly want to surrender. Instead, schedule time for cold calls, follow-up calls, paperwork, and administrative tasks. Oh, and don’t forget to check in on your existing clients to see if there is anything you can do to help during these troublesome times. Often, clients just like to know you care.
Tip: Remember the school day went when you were young. You had seven or so 45-55 minute blocks, and you’d have 5 minutes to transition between classes. You didn’t have time to get bored, and you took time to stretch your legs and have bathroom breaks.
6: Reward Yourself
Make enjoyable habits, and treat yourself with rewards. My thing in corporate America was making my cup of French press coffee each day. At lunch I went out for a quick run, since our campus had a gym. Those were things I looked forward to each day, and they just made me feel better. I felt an instant bump in my happimeter whenever these things were part of my day. The best part is, while working from home, many of us have the time and freedom to do those things now!
Tip: Think of yourself as Pavlov’s dog. Create conditioned responses for yourself by establishing comforting habits and giving yourself rewards for specific things throughout the day.
7: Think and Speak Positively
Remember, garbage in, garbage out. While times are certainly less than ideal at the moment, the good news is that if you are working from home, you have a job. Not everyone can share that sentiment, though. So, try to avoid discussing “how bad” things are during your conference calls or to your co-workers. There is so much about this current situation that we can’t change, but our attitude and our words are completely within our own control.
Tip: Keep a gratitude journal. Every day, think of at least one good thing that is coming out of working from home. It can even be something as simple as “I am thankful that I can smack my gum as loud as I want to without my cubemate calling me a cow.”
The End of the Day Working from Home
At the end of the day, the goal is to find a way to be productive while working from home. This is so that we can get our workforce back to the beautiful mosaic it once was. So, remember to go into each day with that objective in mind. Hopefully, these tips for working from home will help give you a template to follow, and will help guide you in the right direction.
Finally, don’t forget that we are in this together. So, when all else fails, reach out to others who seem to be successful working from home. Perhaps they can offer some pointers and best-practices as well.