Talking tech since 2003

There is no doubt the future of work is remote. But with the spread of the Coronavirus making its way across the world many office workers are being told to work from home in an effort to help prevent the spread of the virus. As someone who has been working from home for a few years now I wanted to share some of my favorite tips and tricks on how to be productive and remain sane while working from home.

Eat breakfast

When you work from home you don’t have to worry about a commute which is all the more reason to make sure you eat breakfast. I’ve found on the days when I eat a solid breakfast I’m much more productive overall, especially in the morning. Even if you aren’t normally a breakfast person, I’d recommend it–you can even eat non-breakfast foods for breakfast (sandwiches, leftovers from dinner, etc) which is something I do all the time. It’s great.

Shower and get dressed

Yeah, you’re not going anywhere, but I always recommend showering early and getting dressed in real clothes–whatever you wear to the office. I’ve found a morning shower followed by getting dressed really helps set the tone for my day and makes me feel like I’m ready to take on the day.

When you work from home the biggest obstacle to having success is your mindset. If you’re in pajamas, you won’t feel nearly as productive. Trust me, I’ve tried it.

Create todo lists

Ah yes, todo lists! I live and die by my todo lists. I’ve found when working from home structure is incredibly important to remaining focused and disciplined at the task at hand: work. That’s where todo lists come into play.

Ideally you want to organize and prioritize your todo list to ensure you get your absolutely must do’s done each day. Additionally, make sure you check/cross off each item you complete on your list. Not just to remind yourself you completed the work but also because you’ll feel really good when you do.

Keep your workspace clean

In my apartment I have a dedicated desk for my computer, etc. This is where I work. I find myself to be a much more productive worker in a comfortable chair seated at my desk. You need to know yourself or experiment to find what works best for you, however, whatever your workspace is, it needs to be kept clean. I find a clean workspace to be relaxing and help keep my mind clutter-free. Additionally, you want your workspace to be comfortable, which includes ensuring the air around your workspace is high quality. Depending on your environment, look into investing into a humidifier or de-humidifier. This guide from the Unclutterer highlights the best humidifiers and can help you to choose the perfect one for your needs.

Get out of the house

With no commute and no office, it’s easy to get stuck at home and stay there. I know I’ve done it many times, so much so that when I finally did step out of the house I felt like it was my first time outside. Don’t let that happen to you.

Some people may tell you not to run errands during the day when you work from home, I’m not one of those people. I find going out to get my haircut, for example, to be a good use of my time. It lets me step back from the day-to-day and often times gives my brain some much needed rest and a fresh perspective.

Even if you don’t have anywhere to go, a nice little walk (even 5-10 minutes) around the block can be very beneficial. There have been times when I went for a walk, thought of some ideas, and couldn’t wait to get back home to do the work. Trust me, getting out is important.

Take breaks throughout the day

This one took me a while to figure out. You need to take breaks, especially when working from home. Spend your break doing something you enjoy, reading, playing a video game, watching some videos, etc. Whatever it is, it needs to be separate from work. Ideally away from your workspace (in my case, my desk).

Some days you will find yourself needing more breaks than others and that’s fine. It’s normal. Other days you’ll be plowing through your work at full steam which is great, but it’s those days in particular that you need to make sure you’re still taking those necessary breaks.

I’ve found a break can last me anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes. It just depends on how you’re feeling.

Communicate your availability

When you work from home it’s easy to find yourself “over working.” Because of the fact you’re always “at work” it’s easy to fall into that habit. I’ve been there myself. That’s what causes burn out.

Here’s what you need to do: communicate your availability to your coworkers clearly. I’ll be available from this time to this time (e.g. 10AM to 6PM). Most importantly though, stick to your set availability. I try to finish my work by 6PM every day. After that I’m free to wind down and do what I want.

Cook and eat at home

Food can be a big hassle for me so if it is for you as well, I feel your pain. As I recently wrote, food delivery services are making everyone poor, cooking at home is a great way to take a break from your work, plus you’ll save money.

Final thoughts

I hope these tips help you. Working from home is a great benefit that many companies are now starting to allow people to do. I love it. Do I miss an office? Sometimes, but overall, I’ve found working from home to allow me to find a better work-life balance.

If you have any other work from home tips, please leave a comment!

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