Tips and tricks on how to work from home, be productive, and stay sane. If you’re new to working at home or having to work from home because of sickness, here’s my top 8 tips I’ve learned working at home for almost 4 years
Y’all. It’s CUH-RAZY out there right now. I can’t believe how much things have changed in a week.
However, my goal on this blog has always been to be helpful and dang it I’m gonna be helpful. So this is one of those spur of the moment posts I was not planning on writing and it was not in my content calendar at all, but here we are.
For those of you who are now working from home when you weren’t expecting to, you might need some help to know where to start.
Getting dressed and going to an office or co-working space every day is a very different experience than …. walking to your couch while your kids are screaming your name every five seconds or eating plastic cherries from a Hi Ho Cherry O game or throwing their paci down the hole where a banister should be on stairs or pulling all the dirty diapers out of their diaper pail or eating a cheese stick through the plastic wrapper because they have broken into the fridge because you forgot to lock the safety lock on it.
Oh. Just me? Cool.
In all seriousness, let me let you into my world for a bit and give you my best advice for how to work at home, but more importantly, how to be productive when you work from home if you’re not used to this.
How To Work From Home Comfortably + Other Working From Home Tips
1. Make sure you have the right setup
This may sound like a no brainer, but if you’ve never worked from home full time or even if you only have ever done it part time, you may not be used to your internet speed or the stability if your wi fi connection. You’ll want to make sure that you run a speed test because the only thing you need to annoy you more than having to work from home when you may not have been prepared to do so is having your equipment wonky and you’re spending a lot of time waiting for things to load. The site I usually do this on is speedtest.net. Takes a couple seconds and it can tell you how strong your wi fi signal is (or isn’t).
Is wi fi one or two words? Anyhoo…
2. Be okay with being flexible
This is going to be a tough one. I know this is one of the hardest things I had to adjust to was having a schedule, but also allowing that to be flexible. When I worked full time, I knew where I had to be when and it was not goverened by me. I then transitioned into a remote worker for a short period of time one day a week which honestly helped me fully transition out. When you work remotely, you can get a sense of how to take control of your schedule and when you have time to be flexible.
Give yourself grace. People out here losing their dang minds and you’re just trying to get some work done. Going from a call center like environment to your couch is a huge adjustment. Be kind to yourself (and your family and friends). And to people who aren’t your family and friends because jerks aren’t cool.
3. Set real actual working hours
Just like any other work day you would have in your office, you have times where you are on the clock and times you are off the clock. You have break times. This is still real work. I can attest to that. Just because you now may be in a home office doesn’t mean the work is any less real.
For me, because so much of what I do is content driven (writing, photography, graphic design) it can sometimes feel like not work, but it so is.
For example, Pinterest used to be a playground for me, but it’s now business 95% of the time. So, it’s frustrating to me when someone looks over my shoulder and sees me scheduling something for a client on Facebook or working on someone’s branding on their Pinterest account and sees that as me playing around. How I wish. It’s work, I’m considered on the clock, clients pay me for this work, and I have deadlines with them.
Your work is still real work. Full time, part time, in the office, in your home office, whatever.
Speaking of an office…
4. If at all possible, have a dedicated workspace
This makes a huge difference. I heard a story of a girl who works from home who would literally walk out her front door, and come in her back door and go to her office space to make her feel like she was actually going somewhere. It was a mindset thing for her.
We redid my office last spring which I am all the more grateful for now, but it doesn’t have to be super elaborate for you. Just a place that your mind can be (less) distracted. Because the way things are going, having more people who work from home may be our new normal for a while.
5. Don’t cut off all communication with the outside world.
Working from home in remote jobs can already be a lonely thing if you like the ability to interact with your coworkers, so you may feel an initial sense of social distancing that you don’t like, but it’s the safest option right now.
You have phone numbers. You have social media. Don’t let it take away from your actual real work that you need to do, but build in some flex time for some sort of interaction. Friends and family are still a text or call away, so do that if you feel isolated.
Ya girl on the other hand generally dislikes people anyway cuz #introvert sooo I’m good not interacting for the most part. It’s like I was born for home based work.
6. Dress Code?
I put a question mark at the end of this because most people will tell you to dress like you’re going to work.
Listen. Depending on what kind of job you have, there ain’t nobody who would choose to wear a suit and go sit on their couch to work. Or even jeans and a nice shirt.
So, if you need to feel legitimized in your temporary (or permanent) work at home job, then sir, go and get you a 3 piece Steve Harvey special and rock it. But ya girl stays in jammies most of the time. SOMETIMES I will actually put on leggings as pants since I do have to go pick up my daughter from school and have to get out of the car to buckle her in. But you won’t catch me doing that in a dress unless I have somewhere else to be.
So, your dress code needs to suit you and your line of work. If you’re going to have meetings, you can always do what I call the mullet work outfit: Business up top, party down below. Meaning put on your nice shirt and wear your jammie pants cuz ain’t nobody gonna see you.
7. **IF** you have kids, make sure you have kid-free work time if at all possible
Depending on the age of your kids, this may be easier for some. For me, I have a 1 year old who absolutely can not be trusted and a 4 year old who absolutely can. Which means I have to optimize on the times that the 1 year old sleeps. My 4 year old still naps in the afternoon which means I have a chunk of time in the afternoon without both of them where I can just crank out a majority of work without distractions.
If you have tiny, tiny ones, optimize sleep times. If you have older kids, let me be that mom and say SCREEN TIME WILL NOT STUNT THEIR GROWTH OR CAUSE THEIR EYES TO FALL OUT OR MAKE YOUR CHILDREN SOCIOPATHS. I get people have SUPER weird things about screen time, but dang it, sometimes it’s necessary when you have a deadline and need them occupied for a second.
Another time is if you can get your kids eating at a table (especially one in a high chair) you can crank some things out then too. This is when I usually do any photography if I have to do it when they’re awake. I need Josiah contained so he doesn’t come try to bulldoze my tripod.
If you have any mom friends or any fellow “work from homers”, maybe try swapping childcare. Like I’ll take the rugrats in the morning and let you work and you take them in the afternoon, kinda deal.
8. Be grateful
Want to know a secret? I wanted to leave my full time job when I did and left on great terms, but the real truth is that I wanted to be a remote worker and they wouldn’t let me. I worked at a technology company, mind you. A company that built and sold software, who had 3 satellite offices in different parts of the country, but yet I couldn’t work from home. So, I knew it was time to leave and I did.
I tell you that to say if you do have to work from home in the midst of all this madness or at any point in the future, just be grateful that your work is allowing you to still be paid and work from home. There are many people that if they can’t work in the actual building, they’re screwed.
You can do this! There’s a ton of independent contractors who can be great resources on how to do this and how to do this well! Don’t let it overwhelm ya!
You got this and I’m here for you!