Tips and Tricks for Working from Home | Education

March 16, 2020

Coming at you LIVE with a… Monday Chatter? That doesn’t quite have the same ring to it in my head, but I wanted to share a little bonus post in light of everything that is going on in our world. I’m not going to get into how I feel about everything… that’s a topic for another day, but I’ll slip this one little reminder in here before we get started with today’s post: before you continue reading, grab a wipe or whatever you are using to keep your personal space clean and take a second to disinfect the device you’re reading this post on 🙂

Now… the topic at hand! I know many people are transitioning into work from home life this week, and for many, this comes with challenges. I’ve received a few super sweet emails and messages requesting tips on how I work and stay organized from home… while I am so flattered, I need to be clear here: I’m not a pro, and I will probably never ever master this whole “work from home” thing. I’m a true extrovert that loves getting out of the house to get things done. I’m also a single gal that doesn’t have a partner, kids, or pups at home to tend to during the workday. I’m SORRY that I don’t have any tips or tricks in these categories, but I’m SURE we could get a conversation going in the comments if you have any specific questions. With that being said, I DID want to share a few of my favorite things that I’ve picked up through the last couple of years that hat have helped boost my at-home productivity.

Cheering you on, friend and wishing you and your loved ones physical and mental wellness. Ready for a few of my favorite tips and tricks? Let’s do this:

Set and stick to a schedule

My number one tip: remember that work from home is WORKING from home. I hate to say it, but finding your new normal for the next couple of weeks is something that you have to create yourself. The good news? It doesn’t have to be hard or scary. I’ve found that it is super helpful to set my schedule at the beginning of the week. I do have a bit of flexibility as my business is just me, but for the most part, I try to decide my working hours at the beginning of the week and stick to them throughout the week. This means starting and stopping at a designated time. It also means that if I have an errand I need to run, I schedule it… same with meals, loads of laundry, cleaning, and anything else I may need to get done from home. If you have regular work hours, stick to them and save home tasks for later. Discipline is key. I know it can be challenging to ignore piles of laundry that need to be put away or closets that need to be organized, but these things can wait until you are through with your work hours. If you have a typical schedule or workflow that you use in the office, look at how you can implement it while working from home.

With that being said, if you are like me and need things to feel fun, fresh, and new each day, your schedule doesn’t have to be the SAME every day. I do recommend waking up around the same time each day, but feel free to add some fun to your day or mix up your daily work tasks. Doing the same thing each day is a really fast way to lead to burnout.

Create a workspace & make it a place you want to work

Creating a space where you can turn on work mode when you need and can turn off when you step away is key. If you don’t have an office space and you have the room in your home, I highly recommend setting up an area as your designated work from home space. I have a little corner in my bedroom as my “office”, but if you do not have room or need for a permanent space, this could look like a corner of your kitchen, a portion of your living room, or something else. We’ve set my roommate up with a table, chair, surge protector, and Happy Light in our living room! (A little bonus tip here: if you will be working in a space shared with someone else, try to set up your “offices” in two different rooms!) Be sure to keep a few pens, paper, and other supplies that you may need throughout your regular workweek close by and consider adding a few fun accessories like a plant, candle, or picture to make your new office space a little more fun to work in.

On another note, I find that I am MOST distracted when my space isn’t clean. Yes, you’ve got to stick to a work schedule, but in your off-hours, consider adding in a 10-minute tidy to your routine or clean during off-hours. Unfortunately, work from home means that you’re not able to head to the office to escape any distracting messes at home. Can you tell this specific point is from experience? 🙈

Make a to-do list

If you find you are easily distracted, make a to-do list and stick to it. This was something I did long before my season of working from home, and it is SO key for my personal productivity. I use my Simplified Planner to track my daily to-do’s and schedule. (There are free printables if you want to try out the system!) I find it helpful to create a work item list and a list of things to get done around the house. If there is something that is distracting me, I’ll add it to the post-work list and know that I’ll get to it, freeing up some mental space to focus back in on my work to-do’s.

Proceed as usual

If you typically get ready for your day by washing your face and getting dressed, do so when working from home. If you typically meal prep for your week, meal prep when you are in a season of working from home. If you find you need to take notes during meetings, take notes during meetings. This isn’t meant to be mean, but this really isn’t groundbreaking information, y’all… if there is something you NEED to make a day feel like a workday (other than heading into the office) or if there is something you need to do to feel productive, make it happen. It is easy to slip into feeling a little lazy when working from home, and I recommend nipping that in the bud BEFORE it consumes you. Personally, I find that I am most productive when I get ready for my day, when I have lunches prepped and ready in my fridge, and know what I need to get done during the day (Hello, to-do list!!).

Make calls, video chat or audio message when you can

Honestly, one of the hardest things about WFH is the feeling of social isolation. If you are used to talking to coworkers and people throughout the day, it can be pretty jarring to begin working from home. I felt this hard and still do! If you have things like Slack, Skype, or G Chat available to stay in contact with coworkers and work friends, utilize them to keep in touch. Create group texts, call your people, Facetime/Skype when you can. There are days where I have phone calls that last a few hours, just with the other person on the line on speaker. Having someone there to hear my random in-the-moment thoughts is super helpful. When in doubt, find a way to use your voice! Whether that be sending an audio text or chit-chatting via Snapchat… I know this has been super helpful for me when social isolation is feeling a little too real.

Move every hour

The GREAT thing about working from home is that it makes your commute basically nonexistent! The thing that is a huge bummer about that? If you are used to getting a certain amount of physical activity in with your commute, you lose that. Movement is so key for physical and mental health, and I’ve also found that it is also key for my productivity. This may be the fitness instructor in me, but I recommend moving AT LEAST every hour… whether that be standing up and walking around your home while on a call or in between emails, hosting your own on-the-hour dance party, catching a plank between tasks, dropping a few squats, or running your stairs, MOVE THAT BOD!

PS if you have a need for at-home workouts while gyms are closed and beyond, let a gal know! If you are new around here, I’m also a group fitness instructor and am more than happy to give you a fun little plan to help you get your sweat on from home, with or without equipment!

If possible, get outside!

I know this may not be possible for everyone, but if you have the ability to get outside and move, take advantage of it. Getting outside of the four walls where you are both working and living is so therapeutic and awesome for productivity. A quick walk, jog, or bike around the block gives you some fresh air, a clear head, access to sun, and so many other good things! I find that the EASIEST way for me to reset while feeling frustrated or distracted while working from home is stepping outside. Coming back after some movement and fresh air is amazing. If a walk outside is available to you, consider setting aside 2-3 times/day where you are able to get outside to move! (Suggestion: once before your workday, once mid-day, and once to finish your day!)

Bonus: give yourself and others some grace

Life is pretty uncertain and stressful for many right now, friend. Know that it is normal to have some anxiety about the changes and unknowns. Talk to your people, check in on those that have been quiet, seek help and resources as needed and available, support local small businesses if you are able, and give yourself and those around you some grace. Transitions are always hard… new normals (even if they are just temporary) are a challenge… stay flexible… slowing down is okay… know that some days will be better than others… love your people well, wash your hands often, keep doing the dang thing. We’ll get through this!

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