While many states are looking to reduce restrictions on shelter-in-place, many industries and workplaces are continuing to keep employees at home, shifting to a virtual office. Many of us are still learning to adapt to working from, however, in my role as Director of Client Development at Marketware, I’ve been at home for the past three years. Sure, most of my friends and family think this means I watch a lot of Netflix, always have the laundry done and never change out of my pajamas – but this isn’t always the case. Here are my seven best practices for working from home to help you stay productive, sane, and continue to contribute to your team.
1. Dress for Success.
When I first started working from home, I’d often roll out of bed a few minutes before my first meeting, throw on sweats and a hoodie and dive straight into work – causing me to move slower than normal. Now, at least 3 to 4 mornings a week, I immediately take a shower when I wake up and dress for success. I wear jeans and a button up most days to help me get in the right mindset to work. Of course, give yourself a day or two to work in sweats, too!
2. Take the first 45.
Jumping straight into work or a Zoom meeting, while you’re still groggy, isn’t exactly good start to anyone’s day. I am not a morning person – it takes my mind a while to wake up before I can be ready and contribute effectively. To combat this, I now spend the first 45 minutes of my day reading the news or my morning devotional. This allows me to sharpen my mind, clear my head, and start my day in a better mood. However now is probably a good time for some full transparency: I don’t have kids. I do recognize 45 minutes may be stretching it for those who have to put kiddos through those morning routines – so even allowing yourself 10-15 minutes before the kids are up is a good way to give yourself a head start.
3. Limit snacks & meal plan.
Let’s be frank: the first few months working from home, I gained 5-10 pounds because I was snacking all day long and not moving around enough. Turns out it’s much easier to snack at home when the pantry is in a few feet from your desk. I’m not a breakfast person, but I do try and snag a bowl of cereal or oatmeal to get the day started so I’m not hungry by 10:30. Now, I try and take at least a 20-minute break for lunch, away from my computer. My wife and I also try and meal plan for the week on Sunday’s, so we don’t have added stress to our weekly routine.
4. Create an office & keep it clean.
Our dog George is convinced my office is actually his room. My office also happened to be our storage space when we first moved into our home, so it’s never really been an organized space. Going into the New Year I made it a priority to “Marie Kondo” my space and keep it clean. Having an actual, clean office space (not a dog-toy strewn storage space) keeps me in the right headspace and helps me remain productive without distractions. If you don’t have an entire room or space to devote to work, you can still carve out a small section in your home to keep clean and organized.
5. Stand up & move around.
Seems easy enough right? Turns out it’s not. As any orthopedic surgeon, chiropractor, or physical therapist will tell you: your body is not meant to sit in front of a desk for 8 hours a day. I have an Apple Watch that reminds me to stand once an hour – and typically, at lunch, I take the dog out for a 10-15 walk to get some fresh air. Sometimes if I’m on a Zoom meeting (off video), I’ll even walk back and forth between rooms in the house to get a little more movement. Standing desks help with movement and back pain, too. You can find some simple options on Amazon.
6. Schedule some no-screen time.
On Tuesdays after work, my wife and I have a “no-screen night”. That means no TV, no computer, no tablets, and no phones. Quarantine life has allowed for more-than-enough screen time – and while it’s nice to catch up on a few shows, it’s also unhealthy and can prevent you from spending quality time with your loved ones. Tuesday afternoons are a good time for us to walk the dog together, eat dinner at the table and not on the couch, work on puzzles and spend time reading. This quiet time allows me to be more focused the next morning and ready to tackle whatever work has in store.
7. Tell your family what time you will be done working each day.
This might be the most important tip I have to offer. Last year, I was working full-time, in addition to attending school full-time to complete my MBA. Working from home can blur the lines between when you are truly home and when you’re working. In this time, I’d find myself only coming out of the office to eat dinner. There will always be times and challenges where some days lead into the evenings, but I do try to check-in with my family so they have an idea of when I’ll be done and they can have my undivided attention. I recommend creating a schedule for your family to make sure they know when you’re available or working and make sure to prioritize family time.
Hopefully these tips help keep you on-track as we all continue to navigate our new remote lives – and also help keep you more focused as we return to our offices. I’d love to hear your top WFH tips, too. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.