As an entrepreneur for the last nineteen years, I have had the luxury of working from home on pretty much a full-time basis. Working from home has always felt more natural and relaxing than any work environment I've ever been in. For this reason, even when I had to transition to a job for a period of time, I tried my best to only take jobs where I had the flexibility to work from home some days.
I know that everyone doesn't feel this way. I get that some people have been working in office settings so long its what they've become accustomed to. This being the case, some of you are having a difficult time figuring out how to adjust to working from home given the age of COVID-19. You miss face-to-face engagement with colleagues. You miss having people poke their head in your office. You miss team meetings and other aspects of workplace culture. (Who knew you could miss weekly team meetings?) Yet, there is this new normal - albeit temporary - that you have to contend with, and in the spirit of helping you get acclimated to your new normal, here a few tips that may be helpful.
Designate and create a nice home-based workspace/area.
Your designated workspace/area doesn't have to be super large, overly fancy or filled with expensive equipment. It just needs to be the place within your home that is separate from everything and everyone else. It should have all the essentials you need for work. And it should also be neat and organized.
Place things that inspire you in your workspace/area.
Whether it's pictures of your loved ones, a plant, a fountain, color, several of your favorite quotes, or music, when you step into your home-based workspace/area, it should invite creativity, focus and productivity. The space should also reflect your personality, dreams and aspirations. (Personally, the John Coltrane station on Pandora piping in on a low volume accompanied by the eyes of all my favorite people staring back at me is the perfect inspiration to my workday.)
Incorporate a morning routine that gets you ready to conquer the day.
This does not have to be anything long and drawn out as much as it needs to be purposeful. For some it's coffee with the morning newspaper. For others it's a twenty minute meditation. For another it may be a thirty minute financial podcast. One early morning while at the beach, a surfer told me his morning surf was how he started his day. Everyone is different, yet what's true is how we start our day influences to a large degree how our day will unfold.
Set respectable working hours.
Forever we've been sold this bill of goods that perpetual grind is the roadmap to success. Once upon a time I believed that. For more than twenty years, I worked 16 hours days. Was I successful? Yes. However, since coming into Arianna Huffington's philosophy about the importance of rest and sleep, I do things differently. And guess what? I've been just as successful . . . and more rested.
Clean yourself up so as to present yourself fresh for the day.
I'm not suggesting you put on a suit and tie or your prettiest dress, but what I am saying is working from home doesn't mean that you bum it up or neglect general hygiene practices. So, wash your face. Brush your teeth. Get the crust out of our eyes. Shower. Do something to your hair. When you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, you are more productive.
Limit your distractions.
Instead of responding to emails, text messages and voice mail messages all day, allocate blocks of time to respond to these things. It might be 10-11a.m. and then again from 2-3p.m. This might sound ridiculous, but you will be surprised how quickly texting, responding to emails, and returning phone calls can eat up your day. Also, if you're home with a spouse or children, have a conversation about respecting your need to be work without unnecessary interruptions. If you're married or live with your significant other, the two of you will have to trade off shifts or schedule time blocks for tending to children who need adult supervision.
Build in breaks to stretch and walk around.
Let me be transparent here, I totally suck at this. I'm terrible. When I'm in the groove of writing, I care nothing about breaks. Eating doesn't cross my mind. I'm just zoned out. But, a very wise and dear person has been the voice in my ear reminding me how important it is to get up from my desk every hour or so to stretch my legs, move my hips, etc. I am doing better. Y'all pray for me. I have found that sticking my head out the door for a whiff of fresh air is a good reset.
Work when you're supposed to be working. Eat lunch when you're supposed to be eating lunch. (By the way, scheduling in time to eat breakfast and lunch is important.) Be on break when you're supposed to be on break. Do your best not to sit on the sofa with your laptop in your lap, your favorite show on tv, a plate of food next to you, and a phone call on speaker. That's just chaotic and messy when what you really want is focus and progress.
If you are the type of person who is not used to working by yourself and therefore desperately need some adult conversation, build in some cut-up, fun time. Here again, it's about building in time blocks. Give yourself time blocks to call people and shoot the breeze. For example, allocate thirty minutes to call or Facetime or Zoom two people; fifteen minutes each call. Or, twenty minutes to call, Facetime or Zoom four people; five minutes each call.
Again, I hope the tips I've shared are helpful. Of course, I understand everything isn't for everyone. So, pick through and see what you need. Also, keep in mind that working from home, as with anything else, does get better with time. Once you get settled into your workspace/area, get a routine down and can schedule out your day in a way that makes you most productive, you won't feel so out of sorts. Do not forget to disinfect your keyboard, screen, mouse, phone(s), pens and anything else you touch in your home-based work space/area on a regular basis . . . just as you do the rest of your home.
With Overflowing Gratitude,