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Tips for Working from Home

Tips for Working from Home

For many people this is the first time working remotely/from home and, like it or not, it looks like this is going to last a little while longer. As you think to yourself “great… another one of these articles” just remember that people adjust to new work environments at different rates and with differing circumstances. Family, pets, roommates, significant others, or even working alone can all be distracting in different ways. Feelings toward the change can vary greatly as well, many prefer to head to the office and mingle with co-workers in order to separate work/home life balance. Be respectful of everyone as they adjust to the “new normal,” whatever that may be.

Growing up in a snow belt, I was always prepared with a checklist of what needed to be brought home to function without disruption “just in case” tomorrow was a snow day (no school/no work depending on the time period of my life). This has carried over into most of my adult life; for the past 10 years I have worked remotely full-time, either from home or while traveling. If you don’t have a list, you should make one for your daily office routine and the items you use most (ex: Mouse pad with the wrist pad…check!).

These tips may not work for everyone. As discussed above, situations can vary place to place and day to day, but general guidelines should be maintained for maximum success!

1)  Create your work station: If you haven’t done so already, set up a dedicated work area (preferably one that can remain where it is without disruption and minimal distractions). This includes all the essentials that you would have had in the office (your list): pens/pencil, paper, computer, headset, post-its, “world’s best boss” mug… whatever it was that made you productive in the office should also be available at your new location.

2)  Design a daily routine: Remember, routines are good not just for you, but for kids as well. Be sure you discuss this schedule with those around you to minimize distractions. Here are a few things to remember to do/include in your work from home routine:

a)  Start time. Wake up at the same time as you did when you worked in the office. Do what you need to do to get into work mode… Shower, get dressed (perhaps that just means put on your “daytime” sweats).

b)  Break time. Make sure to create a schedule with breaks, which can assist in establishing boundaries with those also at home with you! When you’re working, you’re working. Helping with homework, the dishes, or the dog can wait until that scheduled break.

c)  End time. Schedule an end time when you pack up and you’re done for the day.

d)  Set expectations. Setting up expectations with your family about your routine and breaks is important, however, it may be easier said than done with younger children. You may also need to set expectations with your boss regarding having a little flexibility around your kids’ schedule. You may need to work when they are napping or work with your partner to designate who is in charge every few hours so you can focus.

3)  Go outside: Get outside for some fresh air and exercise! No one wants to be cooped up all day, so take a walk, go for a bike ride, or just sit in the sun for a few minutes to relax.

4)  Keep in touch: Maintain communication with clients/co-workers as you normally would in the office. Remember they’re likely going through the same things, so be patient.

5)  Keep yourself engaged: Schedule calls, meetings, FaceTime, and any other way to keep engaged throughout the day.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not adjusting right away. Work/life balance while home is difficult for most, and chances are you’re not alone. Discuss your challenges with others and inquire whether they have helpful tips/tricks that might also work for you.