By: Dani Kessel
With the current COVID pandemic, many folks are now being forced into a position they’ve never experienced: working from home. This is a challenging feat for many folks. It’s hard to work in a home environment due to constant stimulus and humans’ 8.5-second attention span. Plus, many aren’t sure how to balance their work-responsibilities, schedule, and regular self-care needs.
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re one of the people in need of some assistance.
I’m here to help!
I have a plethora of experience working from home. I previously completed half of my degree 100% remotely which took a lot of effort, planning, and organization. I also have been working from home as a writer for quite a while. As such, I have insights that may help. To best improve at-home work for as many people as possible, I did some research. I asked struggling friends what their biggest problems are. I scoured Twitter for questions. And I’ve compiled a list of tips that I believe will get you organized and ready for this new work format.
Here are six tips for working from home:
1. Even if you aren’t ever going to leave the house, make sure that you still get dressed, eat food, brush your hair, brush your teeth, and maintain your pre-work routine. You don’t have to dress the same way you would at your office, but changing your clothes will signal a start to your workday. This gives your mind permission to transition your focus onto whatever tasks you need to complete during your work hours.
2. Create a designated space for work. For those without a desk, you might have to set up a corner of a dining room table or a side table. You may have to share a space usually designated for a different purpose. I live in a small apartment, and you may too. In this case, don’t panic. Set aside office supplies like papers, pencils, etc. that you only use for work. This boundary will help distinguish work-life from home-life.
3. Focus is especially important when working from home. If your schedule is flexible, consider utilizing the Basic Rest-Activity Cycle. Science has constantly reinforced that the most effective way to avoid burnout and increase productivity is by using the ultradian rhythm (aka the Basic Rest-Activity Cycle) for work periods and breaks. If you can, work with 90 minutes of focused attention. Then, take a 15-30 minute brain break. During this time, make sure to get up and stretch your legs for a minute or two. Repeat this basic schedule throughout your work hours to maintain high-quality labor.
4. If you have a freezer or refrigerator, meal prep! I cannot emphasize enough just how much stress this will relieve. During your week, you’ll want to eat a good lunch and possibly a snack. You won’t want to expend money (in case you get sick and have to pay for healthcare) or extra time/energy though. It becomes immensely easier to take a lunch break when you can rest and eat instead of cooking. This guide gives a good step-by-step for meal prepping.
5. Many folks working from home will need to video conference, teach over zoom, record videos of themselves for meetings, etc. Invest in a good pair of noise-reducing headphones with a microphone. I know it’s frustrating to have to buy equipment for work, but noise-reducing headphones with a microphone will go a long way in making anything video/audio more effective. Especially if you have kids or teens at home who are in the area during a meeting, this investment can cut down on interruptions. Also, the good news is that they can be found online for relatively cheap prices.
6. Create an “end of the workday routine.” This will look different for every person. I recommend starting it with cleaning your work area. Then, it can include anything from taking a walk to reading a book to doing yoga to taking a shower. Whatever you want to do to decompress every day. This will give your brain permission to move out of a work-mental-state and into a home-mental-state. It will also signal to any others in the home that you are done with work for the day.
There you go!
I hope these tips help you with working from home. It’s a difficult maze to navigate, but it’s entirely doable with the right preparations. Did I miss any of your questions? Please let me know in the comments. I’m more than happy to share any other advice, wisdom, or insights I have.
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