As more and more people are being allowed and asked to work from home, we’ve put together a list of tips that we use at Digital Story to stay productive outside an office setting! From wrangling kids to video calls, check out some of the ways we have found that work for us. And, as a general rule, be patient with others working from home. Don’t assume that a snippy sounding email from your mom coworker was meant to be malicious, always assume the best from written text!
Stick to your schedule. If you normally work 9-5, continue doing so at home. It’s very easy to just tell yourself that you’ll just work later on. Later turns into 6pm and you’re so far behind that you have to work all night.
Have someone you can reach out to if you need to talk. Make sure you have someone you can reach out to if you need to talk. You can feel very isolated quickly and it can cause anxiety and stress. Having someone you can reach out to, whether it’s a family member, friend or co-worker, will help you feel connected and not shut off from the world.
Get out of your office. If you have a separate office or work area, make sure to shut down your computer and walk away when you’re done for the day. One of the hardest things about working from home is never feeling like you’re “off” work. I have an office in my house, so I’m able to close the door when I’m done working and it gives me the feeling of being done with the day. It helps separate your personal and professional life.
At-home Workout. I workout 4-5 times per week. Whether it’s a hot yoga class, barre, or just going to the gym, the time away from my daily work is needed for my overall mental health. Currently, I schedule a time to go to the gym. If you are going to be in the house for a long period of time, it’s important to find a way to workout, even if it’s for 30 minutes. Pinterest has some great at home workouts and you can pretty much find anything on Youtube. Continuing your workout routine at home will help you get back into your normal routine once we have gotten through this difficult time.
Plan your day. The best thing I can recommend to do is get a basic schedule for the day in your head or on paper first thing. I make a list of work tasks and personal tasks that need to be completed each day then plan when those things will ideally happen. Just like going into an office, a routine is the best way to get things done for me.
Wrangle the kids. I have a young kid at home with me all day so not only do I have to get my work done, I have to juggle a tiny human’s needs as well. Fear not, it can be done! But also, it’s not always easy. When I know I’m going to have a call, I basically plan my kid’s entire schedule that day around the call times. In an ideal world, he would be napping for every call but that’s not how the real world works. So, I try my best to make sure he’s in a good mood during the call time and set him up with quiet toys or (judge all you want) he gets to watch an episode of his favorite show during my call. In my experience, most people don’t mind a squeal or two from a baby on a call and the mute button, plus decent wireless headphones are clutch.
End the silence. Find a way to make some noise in your house that you can also work with. Depending on the task I’m doing, I listen to podcasts or have music playing all day. I’m someone who needs some sort of background noise or I’ll go insane. Netflix and Disney+ both have some great shows like Planet Earth that I can put on and get work done and also entertain my kid in a somewhat educational manner.
Embrace the freedom. If you’re like me, looking at a stack of laundry piled up or dirty dishes in the sink is like someone tapping directly on your brain, annoying. I know I won’t be able to sit down and fully focus with certain things undone around the house. My advice, just do it. Throw in the load of laundry or get the dishes done then fully commit to working for an hour with as close to 100% focus as you can get. That might mean I have to work a little later than I would in an office, but when I’m done, my house looks manageable and I can enjoy my evening.
Take regular breaks. In most office settings, regular work breaks are a natural part of the environment. Whether it’s a lunch break, a birthday/anniversary celebration or just a quick trip to the kitchen for a snack, these types of breaks are naturally baked into one’s day in an office and are essential for fighting burnout. Be sure to regularly leave your desk to stretch your legs and regroup. I find a cadence of breaking for 5-10min about every 2 hours works well for me.
Try a work management software. Remote work in roles that require multiple people to work together on projects can be challenging without visibility into what your colleagues are working on. Luckily, there are some wonderful online tools to help with this! Two of my favorite options that I’ve personally seen success with are Asana and Monday.com. Both of these tools are very intuitive and free to try out.
Make your workspace comfortable. Working from home has major benefits, one of the biggest being the ability to be comfortable and relaxed while working. I’ve found that my efficiency and productivity increases when my workspace is comfortable and inviting. Now, I’m not talking about working in bed (which I definitely DO NOT recommend because you may just fall asleep,) but rather ways to increase your comfort and thus your performance while at your desk. For me, my stress relief aromatherapy candle and Himalayan salt crystal lamp add just the right amount of comfort to my workspace to really get me in the zone.
Communicate with your household. Be open and honest with your family or roommate(s) about your meeting schedule and set expectations about what you need to be successful during this time. My husband and I are often both working from home and we find it reduces stress to communicate our meeting schedules and expectations first thing in the morning. If one of us needs a quiet background during a call, the other ensures that they pause the music and refrains from interrupting the other during this time. If our meeting schedules overlap, we discuss ahead of time who will use which room to avoid the scramble minutes before the start time.
As you can see, working from home looks different for different people and situations. Pick some of the tips that resonate most with you and give them a try these next few weeks. Let us know which ones worked for you or what tips you have for staying on task while working from home!