9 Tips for Working from Home
Ways to Stay Productive and Happy
I’ve never worked from home for this long before. It’s been two weeks, and with tons of offices closed indefinitely due to COVID-19, working from home seems to be the norm for a bit longer. It’s been strange not being in an office setting, and that can be a stressful disruption in life. You might be less productive, or unhappy being cooped in the same spot, or feel off your game in general. I’ve had some moments like these, and I’m happy to say I have a few tips to make working from home a little less painful.
1. Set Up a Workspace
I sit in the same chair at my kitchen table every day for work. It reminds me of sitting in my cubicle (which I sorely miss, believe it or not). Having a designated spot makes up a little bit for not being able to commute to your desk every day. It gives you the feeling that this is your workspace, and this is where you go to get work done. I put my laptop away once the day is over so my roommates and I can use the table for dinner, board games, etc. However, before I go to bed, I leave my laptop back in the same spot. That way, I wake up and it’s already waiting for me, just like when I go to work. It keeps a sense of normalcy and consistency in a time when everyone has had their routines shifted around.
2. Sit Somewhere Else when You’re not Working
On the flip side, don’t sit in your work seat for lunch, or when you’re done with work for the day. At the office, I head to the kitchen and sit with my coworkers for an hour, away from my laptop. That separation is important, and allows you to actually relax when you’re not working. I pretty much sit on the opposite side of our living room when I’m not working. It gives me a change of scenery, and helps me associate the one seat at the table as my work space. If you have a small apartment like me, that separation can be hard to find, and it’s easy to feel cramped. Get as much separation from your work space as possible so you don’t feel chained to your laptop.
3. Get. Up.
Another downside to working in my apartment versus working at my office is that my apartment is significantly smaller than my office. When I have to get up for any reason, or just walk to stretch my legs, I can walk pretty far at my office. The same can’t be said for my apartment. That makes it all the more important to get up from your workspace when you can. I get up to do dishes when things are slow, I put my laundry in, take out the trash, etc. Sometimes I just pace in circles, much to my roommates’ amusement. Get up to stretch, because it isn’t healthy to be hunched over a laptop for most of the day.
4. Keep Some Form of Routine
In a different setting, it’s easy to fall out of your work routine and daydream. Procrastinating and zoning out feels a lot easier when you’re home. After all, your phone is right by your side and your boss is not. I deal with this by keeping up my set order of tasks that I do at work. My work routine tends to be checking my email, then open issues I left open to see if anyone replied to, then reports, then system updates, and so on. It’s the same order I do things when I’m at work. When I start my day with the same tasks, it immediately puts me in the mood to be productive and get my stuff done. Routine is important for staying sane during these crazy times.
5. Light Some Candles!
I’m not sure if this is just me, but when I light a candle, I feel like I can be really productive. Candles make me feel comfortable and cozy, and they instantly destress me. You could do this with any kind of aromatherapy oils, incense, Glade plug-ins, whatever you have in the house. Never underestimate the power of having a nice aroma in your senses while you work. If you have multiple candles, switch them up every day too. Yesterday, my roommate and I burned some kind of aromatherapy candle, and today it’s a watermelon candle.
6. Eat Breakfast
I’m not normally a breakfast person. When I go to work, I honestly just eat crackers at my desk, or maybe a bagel if I have time and money to get one. Working from home, you have the luxury of your kitchen being there when you get up. Make sure you eat something within the first hour you start working. I’ve been eating berries and toast the past two weeks and honestly I feel great. If you normally don’t have time for breakfast before you go to work, take this time to eat while you have it.
7. Have Multiple Music Playlists
If you listen to music while you work, switch up your playlists. I have soundtracks, rap, K-pop, you name it, I’ve listened to it while sitting at my new “desk”. Except country. I’m sorry, I don’t do country. Today, I’m doing a Drake playlist. Tomorrow, who knows? I like to keep it different every day so I don’t get bored. Playing all sorts of things also keeps you from getting burnt out on one playlist. No one wants to have a stale playlist, so cleanse your palette every day with new music.
8. Dance at Your “Desk”
To mesh with your playlists, sway side to side or something while you’re typing every once in a while. It keeps you from tensing up at your desk. For example, I was typing on my laptop when Drake’s “Hotline Bling” came on and I just stopped to do a little dance at my desk. I love that song. It’s s touch of fun while you’re working, and it keeps you moving while you’re sitting down. In fact, I’m about to go put "Hotline Bling" on repeat after my lunch break.
9. Close Your Eyes
Not the whole time. You wouldn’t be able to see. My eyes have been dry pretty often, and it’s because I’m staring at my screen so much. Blinking helps, and (according to my mom, and I trust her) you blink less when you’re staring at a screen. Even if that’s totally made up, it’s not good to look at a screen all day, no matter where you’re working. It’s also easy to transition from your work screen to your personal phone/laptop without having to look around to commute every day. I mean, I just went on my lunch break to write this and then I'll go right back to work after. I’m sure there are many dry eyes in the world right now. Get eye drops if you can, and take a few moments to close your eyes and rest as you work throughout the day.
Hopefully, this all doesn’t go on for too much longer. While I like not having to commute some days, and I like waking up later, I’m going to get stir crazy. There are definitely benefits to working from home. However, the sooner we can safely get back to normalcy, the better for everyone. Stay safe and healthy!