Working from Home Tips & Tricks
How to prepare for the comforts and challenges of working from home.
Working from home can be a freeing and absolutely daunting endeavor. Whether it’s a new normal or due to extraordinary circumstances, I hope the tips and tricks below can help with productivity and embracing the work from home atmosphere.
11 Work from Home Tips & Tricks
One of the biggest challenges to working from home is boundaries, both personally and for anyone else that may be in the space (partners, kids, roommates, furry friends, etc.) Setting expectations early and revisiting occasionally can make a huge difference. Things to consider:
- Are there core working hours?
- Can people interpret during those hours?
- If something needs attention should they knock, text message, whistle, etc?
- What is the workspace? Can that space be used as anything else during or on off-hours?
The place where work gets done varies from person to person. Some need an entire room other just need a corner. I’ve seen some very clever closet conversions. When choosing where you work, consider:
- Light. Are you an owl or sunbather? Some artist I know prefer darkness, while others need the sun as much as possible. Try to find a location in your house that feels ‘good.’ If that’s not possible, make alterations. Blankets can be hung over windows to block out the light or multiple lamps can give a feeling of being in the light. There are even light therapy lamps to give your mind the feeling of natural light. Note: if you are a sunbather, make sure that the window blocks UV light or you’ll risk sunburns.
- Space. How much space do you really need? How much to make you comfortable? Will it be a shared space that is used for something else? If so, is there something you can do during work hours to make it feel like a designated workspace?
- Location. Do you prefer to work at a desk, table, cross-legged on the couch, standing, propped up against pillows…?
- Isolation. Do you want a barrier (door) between you and others in the house? Are you okay with hearing others?
- Equipment. Laptop, desktop, tablet? Noise-canceling earphones? Water bottle? What do you need to reduce distractions and help you focus?
Schedules are the work from home person’s secret weapon. By setting up times when you work, take breaks, send emails, structure the next day, etc you can let the creative chaos thrive inside a designated time without losing track of everything else. A popular time table amongst writers is 45 minutes writing/editing, 15 minutes to accommodate social media and/or other activities every hour. Another part of the schedule to consider core hours and if they are strict or flexible. My lifestyle demands flexibility, so my hours vary day to day, but I do have a couple hours that are consistent for my writing.
4) Planning for Distractions
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is distractions. Whether it’s munchies, your housemates, the dog at the door, neighbors deciding to build their shed from scratch, or the myriad of responsibilities like cleaning or finally painting the side room, there is plenty to keep you away from your work. Having a plan in place for when that happens will save you hours of frustration and loss of productivity. Some options:
- Plan in your distractions, remember that 15 minutes of the hour mentioned in the schedule? If can go to something that’s been distracting you. Just make sure to set a timer.
- If you find yourself always heading to the kitchen at 3pm and wandering around for an hour snacking, opening the fridge, closing it again, making a new pot of coffee…have a snack that you can grab and go. Most coffee makers have a schedule option, set it to be ready to pour when you walk into the kitchen.
- Timers, timers, everywhere. If distraction keep being a problem, anticipate them with timers to limit their impact.
5) Get a Life
Literally a plant. In addition to making the space more inviting, they can actually reduce toxins in the air and give you something to air your work frustrations or successes with. Here is a link to NASA’s suggestions, just make sure if you have kids or animals that they are not poisonous.
You’ll see this in most of my lists as it’s a process that has helped me organize my mind and keep track of—well everything. In the case of my home office it helped me identify when was best for me to work, what schedule was most conducive to writing, what my biggest distractions were, and, of course, keep on top of what had to be done.
7) Stretching & Posture.
I found the more relaxed setting of a home office can lead to some aches and pains. Regular exercises and posture checks can make a huge difference. Slumped over the keyboard, shoulders rounded? That can lead to a lot strain on the neck, back, and shoulders. Check out articles on proper posture to help stay better aligned in the spine.
8) Embrace the Freedom.
Okay, you have the perfect space, a hot beverage, and time, but something still isn’t working. This is YOUR home office, if it’s not working, change it. I prefer working on a laptop due to portability. If I’m creatively stumped, I move locations or heck, even pull a Dead Poets Society and stand on the desk.
Having rituals to get into and OUT of work mode can be beneficial for the work being done and home life. It’s easy to get into a habit of always being mentally at work when the office is literally around the corner, looming. Something as simple as saying a mantra when you start work and doing a specific stretch routine upon leaving the office can help the mind understand it’s time to switch gears.
Yes, I know, hissssssssss, but really a few daily doses of sunshine can do miracles for staying energized and keeping a positive mood. Even better, a small 15 minute travel in the outdoors to breath in the fresh air. This, of course, is not always possible, but if the option is there, bath in the rays.
11) Allow Yourself to Get it Wrong.
Working from home is not always intuitive and usually a case of trial and error. This is normal and allowing for mistakes, expecting them, and using them as learning experiences on how to better the process will take a lot of stress out of the transition.
Good luck in your home occupation, I hope provides a space of productivity and creativity. If you have any advice on what worked for you, I would love to hear it, comment below!