Work from home tips from 20 years of experience

Work from home tips from 20 years of experience

I know this situation has caught a lot of you off-guard and it can be a very stressful time.  I’m feeling it for sure.  But, I’m lucky. As someone who has worked from home for over 20 years, this isn’t new and I’m set up for success.  Here are some tips if you’re new to the game:

  1. Routine is everything.  You’ve been used to a regular routine of getting up, dressed, out the door, meals, breaks, etc.  As much as possible, try to replicate it.  
  2. Exercise is key to relieve stress, especially if you sit a lot.  My usual routine is a 6 a.m. exercise class, home for coffee and shower and then, to my desk  Obviously, my class is canceled now, but I’m still getting up at the same time, doing an online version of the class and keeping my routine.  
  3. Get dressed – it makes you feel better.  Even when I don’t have in person meetings, I shower, put on makeup, wear something cute and do my hair.  Shoes are usually optional.
  4. Set work hours.  I start around 7:30 and no matter what, I quit at 5.  At that time, I don’t check email, my phone or do any work.  Force that for yourself by turning your phone on silent or leaving it in another room.  Years ago, I set up a landline just for my work and it doesn’t even ring anywhere else but my office.  Having “work hours” and “home hours” really helps me not feel like all I do is work. 
  5. Find an “office”.  I have a separate room, but if you don’t, find a place to set up that feels like your desk at work.  Yours might be temporary, but setting up a sacred space will help you focus.  Add pens, your computer, a water glass, a plant, pictures of the kids, the whole bit.  It will also help you disconnect when you leave it at the end of the day.
  6. Don’t just sit there all day.  If you’re in the office and have a break, you get up and socialize and wander around, right?  Do it at your home office. I regularly get up, stretch, say hi to my pets or call a friend.  No one can work for 8 hours straight.
  7. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of being at home.  I find little chores can be helpful if I’m feeling stuck on a project or just need a break.  I’ll draft a plan or email copy, go fold a load of laundry and often by the time I’m done, I have new ideas.
  8. Working from home with kids can be hard.  I’m a single mom and believe me, I know.  When my kids were school aged, they absolutely understood the boundaries.  If I had my office door closed, they needed to figure it out until I was done.  We discussed ahead of time the things they might need answered or have handy for that hour I was unavailable.   However, if you have little kids or your kids are new to this, don’t worry too much.  People get what’s going on.  Just do your best.
  9. When you have no more work, enjoy yourself.  Read a book, watch a movie, go for a carefully distanced walk.  Right now, if you have a library card, you probably have access to eBooks, movies and music through your library system.  Use them!  
  10. When you’re done, be done.  Especially when things are stressful, sometimes I just have no more to give at 4:00.  As long as my clients don’t have a deadline I’m going to miss, I respect that and come back fresh the next day when I can be more creative.

Struggling?  Let me know.  Or post your own hints in the comments below.

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