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I am lucky enough that during this time of social distancing and possible lockdown that I have experience in the art of working from home. And trust me, it’s an art. Here’s the back story since everyone might not know, but I don’t blog or “influence” full time (ugh hate the word influence). I have a full-time job as a Customer Success Executive at a technology agency called 4th Down Solutions. We create digital solutions for sales teams to learn and train remotely and efficiently so the business is actually booming right now. Message me if you have a need for it – we will probably have a solution. Anyway, enough of my sales pitch!
I have been working from home for this company for two and a half years, but before that, I worked for a large pharmaceutical company and that was a work in the office everyday sort of culture. So I have gone from one extreme to the other and I know it can be difficult.
When I first started working from home two years ago I loathed it. I missed the camaraderie of an office, structure, and taking breaks, but it’s still possible to do all those things from home so below are my tips on becoming a WFH expert like me!
Set up a dedicated workspace.
This is probably the most important advice I can give. When I first started working from home I would set up my desk at my kitchen counter and leave it there morning, noon, and night which isn’t a very good work-at-home practice. Setting up an area that is JUST for working is essential. If you don’t have enough space to leave things out and put them AWAY aka close a door on your office space then you should put the work away physically each night. Don’t keep your notebooks, devices, and laptop open after you are done working. This practice will make you work LONGER and unnecessarily and when I did this I saw my mental health just go bonkers. So make sure you do this if NOTHING else!
Start your workday and end your workday at certain times.
This goes along with what I was saying above. Keeping hours of when you’re working is very important. I always sit down at my computer between 8:30am and 9:00am and then shut my computer by at least 6pm unless I have a late meeting or something that absolutely cannot wait until the next day. It’s easy to start working earlier and earlier and later and later and you want to avoid this. Start and end your day the way you already normally do. My one coworker even sets a timer at the end of the day to remind her to stop because sometimes you can lose track of time and already it’s 7pm. Trust me, this will help your sanity.
You do this when you’re in an office even if you don’t know you do. You talk with coworkers, walk around the office, go get coffee, shop online, etc. Make sure to take those breaks even though you are working from home. A lot of people start to feel guilty when they are home and not continuously doing something, but trust me if you were at the office you would probably be less productive. I know, it sounds not true but it really, really is. Sometimes I take breaks to walk to the grocery store, listen to a podcast, shop online, make a playlist or have a snack. It can really be anything but do it.
Keep your cell phone in a different part of your home while working.
This one has been key for me lately especially because I also have the Sassy side business. I am constantly getting DMs, notifications and other things that distract me from my full 9-5 job, so I keep my phone stored in my bedroom where I can take breaks to look at it but it can’t be with me in my office space. This is really helpful during conference calls where it is easy to get distracted by your phone and not focus. Don’t be that person who has to ask, “can you repeat that?”. I have been that girl, it sucks.
Make your bed in the morning.
A lot of people will recommend that you get dressed for work. This has never appealed to me and I did try it for a week or two and gave up after a while. I usually roll right from the bed into my “office” and it hasn’t affected my productivity. However, not having my bed made always made me feel gross. So pick your poison but do something that makes you feel ready for the day. Wash your face, put on makeup, make your bed, put on real clothes instead of PJs or work out clothes – just do something that you know will make you feel like you’re more YOU in the morning.
Music vs. TV
More me having the TV on is distracting. Sometimes if I’m doing things that don’t require a lot of brainpower like updating Excel sheets with user data or tasking people online then I will move my office to the couch to be able to have the TV on the in the background but more often than not I end up muting it or pausing it because it’s too much of a distraction. I MUCH prefer putting on music to keep me positive and upbeat throughout the day, but that’s also what helped me study in school so whatever helped you be productive while studying will most likely help you when WFH. Some people like to listen to podcasts, classical music, the radio, or just have silence. Again, do what you would do at work.
Set up times to just connect with coworkers.
1000% this is what I miss most about not being in a physical office space – the people. I am very much an extrovert and a people person and my job does require me to be on the phone a lot which sort of helps with this whole no physical contact thing, but sometimes you just want to talk shop or complain about your clients or just talk about your life outside the office and yea not having a coworker just sitting next to you is hard. My coworker Emily and I used to make it a point to message each other when we needed to complain or bitch about something and get it off our chests and it has made us so much closer because of it. So if you have someone that you are really close to at the office – see if they will Face Time or Skype with you during the day – this practice always, always made me feel better and made transitioning from an office to a WFH situation so much easier.