How I learned to work from home – 5 tips that saved my sanity

May 20, 2020

Posted by in News, Staff

I never considered myself to be a “work at home” type, probably because the opportunity never really presented itself. Every work day I had my routine; get up, make my bed, chat with my hubby, shower, get dressed, get my daughter up and ready for school, pack my bag and off to work and school we would go.  That all changed with the arrival of COVID-19.  With new social distancing requirements in place and stay at home orders a new norm, life as we know it changed – and dramatically.  Now with a son suddenly home from college and a daughter in high school both in virtual learning mode and two parents juggling working between home and offices it was only a matter of time before chaos began.  Even the walls of our home are longing for the days of peace & quiet again.  It is not used to having us all home at once and for so long.    First and foremost I am thankful for my health, my family’s health and that I still have job in which I can work from home.  That being said it took a bit to adjust and I will admit I had some struggles along the way but I think I have found my groove.   After a bit of trial and error here are five tips that worked for me.



Tip #1: Have a routine and stick to it. 

I needed a new routine.  My first day home I was out of rhythm and all over the place and so was my family.  We slept in a little later than normal, did not rush to even shower or get dressed – I mean why not?  It’s not like our commute was very far and nobody was coming to visit.  It felt different and exciting to work from my pajamas.  But as the day progressed I felt behind for some reason, disorganized, and scattered.  Aside from a mid-morning break to put in a load of laundry and my lunch time shower as that was when I decided to get dressed I was glued to my computer the rest of the day re-acting to things instead of being pro-active with a specific agenda.  So day two I decided to establish a new routine starting in the morning that would set the tone for my day.  I created a list of goals I needed to accomplish that day. It included both work and family tasks so I was not aimless. The structure created some semblance of order and prevented me from losing focus.



Tip #2: Get dressed.

As exhilarating as it was to work in my pjs it just did not work for me.  Getting dressed and ready for the day allowed me to make the transition to work mode.  Now I did not go all out and wear what I normally would for the office but I did dress from head to toe.  Some days it was business casual and some days it was jeans and t-shirt but at a moment’s notice I could pop on a video call for a meeting or have a one on one FaceTime session and look presentable.


Tip #3: Have a dedicated workspace.

Much like getting dressed put me in the mindset to go to work so did finding a dedicated workspace just for myself.  Day one I set myself up in the kitchen with my stuff sprawled out on the kitchen table – big mistake!  Talk about distractions galore!  When anyone else in the house needed a break they would head for the kitchen.  This interfered with my focus and it ultimately took me longer to finish tasks.  The next day I set up in our home office.   I organized my space much like my work office and really used the space for work only.  It made all the difference for me.


Tip #4: Minimize distractions.

Another challenging feat was minimizing my distractions.   From children at home virtual learning, practicing musical instruments, working out & watching television to the house itself with house cleaning/projects calling my name it was very easy to be pulled away or to lose focus.  I will say having a dedicated workspace helped cut down on these interruptions but still sound travels even through closed doors.  So we set up schedules of when those louder activities could take place that worked for everyone.  Using noise cancelling headphones did not hurt either.  Another way I cut back on distractions is I turned off the email notification on my phone when I was immersed in a task where my undivided attention was needed so I would not be interrupted every time an email came in.  I did this with my phone alerts too.   This helped me be less reactive and scattered.  It allowed me to stay the course of accomplishing my top priorities for that day.


Tip #5: Move around and take breaks. 

I am avid mover.  I do my best thinking and feel my best when I am moving.   I like to look at my watch every night and see that I have walked at least 12,000 steps.  At the end of my first work day working from home I had barely moved at all with only 1500 steps to show for it.  In a normal workday even excluding the days I would walk at lunch I would log at a minimum of 4000 steps before I would get home.  No longer having a commute there was now no need to walk from the parking lot to my office, no climbing of stairs, no printer visits, etc.  I really took for granted how much I moved in a day.  So on day two I decided to take scheduled breaks to make myself get up and take a few laps around my home including going outside for fresh air.  Being away from my screen and moving around helped me immensely.  It gave me the recharge I needed to be more productive and creative.  It also allowed me to establish boundaries separating work time from family time.


Implementing these tips and tempering my expectations that working from home was not going to be exactly the same as working from the office allowed me to find my rhythm.   I was able to adjust and adapt in creating a productive “at home” work environment that works for me.  In the end finding out what works best for you is the ultimate goal.

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