Coronavirus has gone global, unfortunately, and in the coming weeks more and more people will be practicing social distancing. We’ll be staying home, avoiding places where groups gather, and washing our hands more and touching our faces less.
Many people are opting to avoid the office altogether and self-isolate by working from home. But this can be a jarring change day in and day out if you’re not used to it. Sure, it’s a nice change of pace once a week, but every day might prove tricky if you aren’t sure how to approach it.
While this isn’t our usual travel-related content, I (Katie) thought I’d pass on a few tips and tricks to working at home—something I’ve done a lot of the past 5 years as a self-employed freelancer. Hopefully these will help you adjust a little easier to social distancing and make you a more productive homebody worker bee!
1. Get dressed
When I was hired for my first remote job at a start-up several years ago, my then-boss spoke of working in your pajamas as a big perk of the job. And while it was fun to lounge around in sweats and a t-shirt for the first few days, let me tell you that the novelty wears off FAST. I soon discovered that I wasn’t as productive as I could be because my mornings lacked the necessary structure to help me jumpstart my day.
Having a visible break between downtime and worktime has a huge positive impact on how you function mentally. You don’t need to wear a suit or formals around the house like you would to the office, but make sure to have a morning routine where you shower, dress, put on make-up, or do whatever else makes you feel good about yourself. This will prompt your brain into work mode.
2. Don’t work where you sleep
Developing good sleeping habits is an important part of being a functional, healthy adult and work is one of those things you should absolutely not be doing in bed. While it might be tempting to lounge under the covers while firing off e-mails and catching up on work, this can be incredibly detrimental not only to your sleep habits, but to your daily productivity as well.
Working from bed conditions your brain to expect to work when you get into bed, which leads to sleeping less or not well at all. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t spend all day sitting diligently at my work desk either. I tend to move about, sometimes sitting at my desk, sometimes at the kitchen table (because it’s close to the radiator), or even on the sofa so our cats can cuddle with me while I work. I never, ever work in the bedroom though, or from bed. My brain gets triggered into work mode when I sit at the table or desk, and equally triggered into sleep mode when I get into bed at night, because I keep work and sleep separate.
3. Don’t work non-stop
You may find this hard to believe, but it’s really easy to work non-stop and forget to take breaks when your home is your office. When you don’t have colleagues around who are going for lunch or coffee breaks, or simply stepping out for fresh air, you tend to forget that you need to do these things too. And while working from home may help you be more productive and get more done, be very careful about allowing yourself to go all day without frequent breaks.
Set an alarm to go off every hour so you make sure to get up from your desk and walk around. Put away your laptop and take a 45-minute lunch break where you read something non-work related. And force yourself to stop working at the end of the day instead of pushing into the night because you’re feeling super productive. Working from home is about creating a better work/life balance, not a worse one.
4. Keep socializing
Obviously we’re all staying in these days to try and curtail the spread of COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on socializing altogether. As someone who works on my own a lot, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to make sure you’re interacting with other human beings every day instead of just your computer.
Normally this means setting up hangouts with friends at the pub in the evenings, going to the gym, or taking part in some other social activity. But now, with coronavirus we’re making sure to stay in touch and socialize with friends and family via phone. It’s important to have that daily human interaction, and a good excuse to check in on loved ones to make sure they’re doing okay too.
5. Be flexible
Everyone is different and some people will find they are more productive when working from home while others crave the structure of commuting to an office. The important thing is to be flexible—both with yourself and the people you work with.
Don’t be afraid to change your approach if it feels like a certain aspect isn’t jiving well. For some it means having a single dedicated space for working, communicating with team members more frequently throughout the day, or needing to check in with managers or coworkers more often. It might take a few days to find your groove, but don’t worry you’ll learn quickly what works for you!
What are some ways you make sure to stay productive when working from home?