Currently, those of us fortunate to be working are mostly working from home. Whether you are temporarily working from home, or work from home regularly, it’s important to maintain a healthy work-life balance. The line is easily blurred when your home is also your office. We’ve compiled some tips to make working from home work for you, so you optimize your working hours and benefit from much-needed and deserved personal time.
- Create a morning routine. If you have the option, for example, my day starts with a quick walk with my faithful furry friend Bocephus. It puts us both in a good mood, lets him burn off some energy so he can (somewhat) patiently wait for my workday to finish, and helps me mentally prepare for the day ahead. Find an enjoyable, doable routine that sets you up for success. Five minutes of quiet meditation, savoring a cup of coffee and a book or podcast, whatever gets you going in a good frame of mind to tackle your job, do it.
- Set a schedule. I’ve noticed since working from home suddenly and entirely, things like meals are easily missed. Make a schedule that includes, for example, responding to emails, doing research, conducting videoconference meetings, EATING, and the various tasks that are the backbone to your job. Of course, be flexible, but making and, for the most part, sticking to a schedule reduces stress and feels more normal overall. Include meal prep in that schedule!
- Create your “office.” Perhaps you have an office in your home. Wonderful! If not, designate an area as your workspace. Having your designated workspace cuts down on distractions. It should be well lit and as private as you can make it, with the understanding that you may be home with children who will likely visit you throughout the day.
- Schedule and take breaks. If you have children at home, maximize your time with them on these breaks! You’ll go back to your “office” with a smile on your face. You take breaks in the office to get a cup of coffee or a snack and chat with a co-worker while you’re at it. You need those breaks just as much when working from home. Breaks make us more productive and keep us in a better mood. Win, win!
- Maintain a work number. Perhaps your office has a phone system connected to your laptop, or you have a work cell phone. If not, there are free services available, like Google Voice and Skype. Maintaining separation between work and personal time is important, and your phone is one more way to do that.
- Use a VPN. Keep company information confidential and protected. This is a no-brainer.
- Stay connected with your colleagues. We’re here to help each other, especially when we’re not physically present together. Chat with messaging apps–your employer likely utilizes one. Call each other on the work line! To hear each other’s voices and be reminded you’re still working with your trusted team is a boost to morale and helps the whole team collaborate efficiently.
- Stay positive. We’re social creatures. No man is an island. Man was not meant to be alone. Yada, yada. These are all true. It can be hard to stay positive when it’s just you in your home office. But not impossible. Pay attention to your productivity and be proud of yourself for doing what needs to be done and doing it well. Tip number 7 can make a huge difference here. You’re not alone, you’re on a team, and you’ve got this.
- Notice and take advantage of the perks that are born of working from home. This will really help with the previous tip, too. Do you have a little extra free time now? Time to do the things you never have time for with your commute? I’ve noticed I’ve been reading more the past couple of weeks, and I’m loving it. Maybe you can get back into practicing yoga (tons of fitness apps out there, people, great for working out at home), or brush off that Rosetta Stone. Notice the upside, embrace it, and appreciate it. This will make a world of difference in your attitude.
- Implement an end-of-day ritual. Just like the morning gets you ready for the workday, a wind-down routine helps you close the day on a positive note, already setting you up for a brighter tomorrow. When you “clock out,” take a walk, mix a cocktail, whip up a meal in the kitchen while listening and maybe dancing to some music, break out the bath salts! This is an opportunity to reward yourself for a good day in the office and signal to your body and mind that it’s time to relax and restore.
Working from home is also an ideal time to acknowledge and appreciate your colleagues. Working with a supportive, loyal team means you never work alone. Yes, that’s corny. It’s also true. We’re all in this together, working together, and I hope these tips help you get the most out of working from home.