10 Tips for Working from Home

May 11, 2020 | Liana

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Currently, many of us are working from home for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While this may be new for some, millions of employers have been working remotely with freelancers and staff for years now. Working from home can offer multiple benefits, including a more flexible schedule and better work-life balance. Many workers enjoy not having to spend time or money on their daily commute. But working from home can present its own challenges. There are additional distractions, working cooperatively can feel difficult and the lines between being at work and being off work can blur together.

With a good work from home setup, self-discipline and self-care, it's possible to work from home with the same efficiency as in the office. This can lead to a healthy and happy work-life balance. Here are some tips for anyone adjusting to the new environment of working from home. 


1. Create a designated working space

One of the most important steps when working from home is to designate a working space which will meet your needs and requirements. You need to feel comfortable, be able to focus and be happy.

Consider the type of the work you will be doing as well as your working hours. Will you be working on a laptop most of the time? Will you be answering phone calls, having meetings and leading webinars? Will you be writing or sketching? Think about the type of environment you operate best in and the necessary requirements of your tasks.

Try to determine a space with less distractions. Some examples of common ones are growing pile of dishes and laundry, cheerful family gatherings or the appeal of the TV.

Some important factors to consider are having proper lighting, a good ergonomic chair and proper desk height with a computer screen at eye-level position. Consider using cushions, foot stools and even books to adjust the height and comfort of your equipment.

Not everybody has a spare room. So, get creative and work with what you have!


2. Start your day as if you are going into the office

Cat wearing a shirt and tie
Image by Laura, on a Creative Commons license.

"Dress for success" is not only a slogan, it's also a state of mind.  There is a mental connection between looking ready to work and productivity. Avoid starting your workday in pajamas. It does not matter whether your work involves conference video call or not, dressing appropriately can improve your outlook. Setting the right tone will impact your mindset and work efficiency.

Begin with a normal work day routine. Take a shower, wear some nice and comfortable clothes, make a cup of coffee and have a good breakfast before sitting down to work.


3. Set – and keep – working hours

Work Hours are 5-9. Image courtesy of Yew Wei Tan.
Image by Yew Wei Tan, on a Creative Commons license.

If working from home is an everyday commitment, you need to set specific work hours.

Depending on what kind of a work you do and your employer's requirements, you might have the flexibility to set your own work hours. If that's the case, try to pick working hours based on your productivity, mood and motivation. Do you do your best work in the morning, or later in the afternoon? Despite the attractiveness work hour flexibility, it is a good idea to have designated hours and follow them each day. This will let you manage your time efficiently, have enough time for your family and personal life, and avoid burnout.


4. Discover your productivity periods

Productive hours differ from one person to another. Studies have shown that the highest brain capacity with best attention is usually before lunch hour. However, depending whether you are a morning person or a night owl, your level of focus, energy and enthusiasm will differ throughout the day.

It is a good idea to apply a systematic approach. Listen to your body and work with it. Try dedicating the times you are alert, energetic and most active to complex work requiring critical thinking. Complete routine or less important tasks in the hours when you are less focused and engaged. Give yourself proper breaks when your attention span is at its lowest.


5. Create a vision board, use a planner or make to do lists

Vision Board

When working from home, it can be challenging to avoid distractions. It's easy to lose sight of priorities, too.

To keep on track, try using a vision board to jot down your goals and objectives. Post pictures of your dreams and aspirations. Write positive notes on the board to read the next morning. Visualization can help you stay focused, get inspired and be more productive.

To do III. Image courtesy of Sari Montag.
Image by Sari Montag, on a Creative Commons license.

Use a planner and make a to do list with tasks sorted by order of importance or how much energy they require. A to do list creates some much-needed structure and allows you set goals and time limits for each task. It forces you prioritize and helps you keep track of deadlines, appointments and meetings.

Get into the habit of starting the day by reviewing your priorities. Try to plan the work and work the plan. Don’t forget to include time for breaks, exercise, meals, family and friends and personal interests.

It is extremely fulfilling to put a check-mark on a list or cross off a task after you complete it!


6. Exercise and stretch regularly

Person stretching
Image by Ali Edwards, on a Creative Commons license.

Sitting for long hours while working from home can make you sore or hinder your quality of life. Try to exercise, go for walks or stretch regularly to maintain good health.

Regular exercise and stretching can give you more energy, boost productivity, help you feel happier, more relaxed and less anxious. Set a time limit for working on tasks, such as 30 or 60 minutes, and take quick two-minute stretch breaks. Be sure to take a longer break for each half-day of work.


7. Eat a healthy lunch and snacks

Image by tay eiChi, on a Creative Commons license.

Reward yourself with your favourite snack to celebrate accomplishments but try to keep it to minimum throughout the day.

One of the work from home realities is having constant access to the kitchen and fridge. No matter how drawn you are to chips, sweets or leftover pizza, try to eat more fruits, vegetables and healthy snacks.


8. Set some boundaries with your family

Dog dreaming about rules: No playtime until work is over

Maintaining work-family balance while working from home can be difficult, especially if you have young children and/or pets. Both are important and none of them should be neglected. Your work is important, but it's also important to be present for your family and friends. 

When you are home all day, family and friends might interrupt you without realizing it. So, it is in your best interest to set some specific work hours and boundaries and communicate them clearly with your family. Do not strive for the perfect balance but aim for the realistic and doable one. Clear boundaries and the maintenance of work and personal life will give you satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, less stress and a lower risk of burnout.


9. Seize the opportunities to connect with coworkers

Regular team meetings play an important role when working remotely. Be present, active, curious and do your best to contribute. Dedicate some time to familiarize yourself with the meeting agenda in advance.

Share your updates and ask about your coworker's professional developments and personal life. Be mindful, though. While some people are extroverts and willing talk, others may not be open to engaging in personal discussions. Make sure to engage with coworkers in a way they feel comfortable.

Treat remote meetings as you would face-to-face meetings. Give them your full attention and don't work on other tasks simultaneously.


10. Think about your well-being and avoid burnout

Happy Ransom by carlybodnar
Image by Carly Bodnar, on a Creative Commons license.

Your well-being impacts your work efficiency, productivity, motivation, energy and much more. Do not let the transition from an office environment to a work from home one throw you off balance. Take short breaks and clear your mind. Invest in learning how to maintain work and personal life. Celebrate accomplishments and learn from failures. Finding the right balance for yourself is key.


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Do you have any tips on working from home that worked for you? Share in the comments below!