Perhaps you’ve been dreaming about the idea of working remotely. No commute. No distractions from co-workers popping by to chat. No uncomfortable office chair. No need to get dressed in uncomfortable clothes.
Sometimes reality doesn’t look like you imagine. After the novelty of being able to work from your pjs wears off, you might find yourself feeling unproductive, isolated or like your work day never ends.
At TipHero, we all work remotely, many of us with kids in the house. In fact, I have a one-year-old who joins me for work, and now I have a school-aged child who I’m suddenly finding myself homeschooling while I work (since schools are closed).
With the coronavirus pandemic, these are certainly unusual times, but as a work-from-home mom, I’ve learned some tips that help me stay productive, stay on-task and thrive in a remote working environment. You can too. Here’s how.
Get Ready for the Day
It may be tempting to skip showering and work in your pjs, but I encourage you not to do that. I’ve been working from home for years, and I’ve learned that I feel way more confident and motivated when I make an effort not to neglect my appearance. This doesn’t mean that you have to wear a suit and tie (unless you have a video chat that requires you to look a certain way). You can wear something comfortable. I usually go with a pair of jeans, a comfy t-shirt and a sweater if it’s chilly out. If you prefer yoga pants or sweatpants, that’s okay, as long as it’s not your pjs. I still do my hair and makeup, but nothing fancy. Feeling somewhat put together makes me feel more like the day has officially begun.
Dedicated Place to Work
Now that you’re ready to work, where do you go? Not in front of the TV. Ideally, not at the dining room table. If you already have a home office, you’re all set, but if you’re new to working from home, you may be scrambling to find somewhere to work. You have to work with what you have, but I highly recommend a desk, or a small table you can use as a desk, if at all possible. Sure, I’ve done some very productive work from my favorite lounge chair, but I feel more like I’m “at work” when I’m sitting at my desk.
Have a Daily Routine
If you don’t set a daily routine, you might end up finding yourself either feeling like you’re not getting anything done or like you never stop working. Have a time when you start work and end work. Build in breaks at times that work for your family. Be willing to be flexible as things come up (like virtual meetings). This schedule will also be helpful for your kids if they’re at home with you. You can plan what they’re going to work on while you’re working whether that’s educational programming, some worksheets or a book to read.
This routine can be flexible because life happens (especially if the schools are closed and you have kids in the house). It also can be and should be a routine that you set around what works for you and your family. For example, I have a one-year-old who takes a nap after lunch. I save the work that requires the most concentration for while she’s napping. I also take my lunch break before her nap so we can go for a walk, eat together without distractions and read a book or two before she falls asleep. Enjoy luxuries like this.
Make a To-Do List
This goes along with the point above. How do you know when your work day is done? If you don’t have a to-do list, you may not. Think of your list as your goals for the day. You may not get everything checked off every day, but it will help you stay on track as you check things off your list.
This is a big one. Being home can be very distracting, once again, especially if your kids are home too. This is one reason that it’s important to have a dedicated place to work. When you’re in your office or at your desk, it’s a clue to your family that they should avoid interrupting you. If you have young children, provide them with toys, crayons, etc to play with nearby so you can keep an eye on them while still focusing on your work.
Maybe you don’t have kids. Being at home can still be VERY distracting. You may see the housework that needs to get done and feel tempted to do that instead of working. You might be tempted to jump on social media instead of focusing on your to-do list. Resist the temptation. Don’t look at the housework. You can get to that later. Close your social media apps. Focus on your to-do list.
Stay In Touch With Your Co-Workers
Just because you’re working remotely doesn’t have to mean that you can’t talk to your co-workers. We live in a modern age where there are multiple ways to chat, conduct meetings and share documents from anywhere. Use Skype, text, webinars, etc. to stay connected.
Don’t skip your lunch break. As I mentioned above, I set breaks around what works for my family. Have lunch with your kids. Get up and get coffee. If you have trouble remembering to take breaks, set an alarm on your phone, computer or fitness tracker to remind you to get up stretch your legs.
Get Some Exercise
This goes along with the point above. I love going for long walks with my kids every day that the weather is nice. We often do this during a mid-morning break or before I start work for the day, and sometimes after work too. If you’re more into yoga, zumba or something else, you can easily find exercise videos online that you can do from your living room. This is another luxury of working from home. You can easily change into your workout clothes in the middle of the day and break a sweat. Exercise always makes me feel happy and motivated. The trick is to find exercise that you enjoy, and if your children are home, I encourage you to exercise with them.
If you opt to do something like hiking or walking, you can even work while you exercise. Listen to meetings, call clients, etc all while enjoying the world around you.
Pre-Make Your Lunch
Or order take out. Whatever you prefer. You don’t want to find yourself starving in the middle of the day and not knowing what to eat. You know that panic buy grocery shopping you did a week ago? Cook the pasta. Open a can of soup. Whatever it is. Decide ahead of time what you’re going to have for lunch so that when that schedule you set for yourself says that it’s time for lunch, you can make it happen without missing a beat.
When one of these tips did you find most helpful? What are your favorite work-from-home tips?