Whether you’ve worked from home before, or the shutdowns around Covid-19 have you working from home now, there are ways to help yourself (and your company) continue to be productive. Many of us are used to the routine that comes along with preparing every morning for work, eating lunch at the same time, attending regular meetings, and working in offices with our coworkers. However, with measures being taken nationally to stop the spread of coronavirus, a lot of us find ourselves severed from our normal routines and left without a plan on how to move forward efficiently. If you relate to this, you might find some helpful tips below on how to stay productive and healthy while quarantined and working from home.
1. Stake Out Your Spot
If you normally work in an office setting and now find yourself working from home, you may be distracted by the “new” surroundings. Everything from noisy delivery trucks on the street to the adorable puppy in your lap can take your mind off work. You need to pick a spot in your home with the fewest distractions, and where all the essentials (like electrical outlets and your modem) are close by. Modern WiFi is a wonderful thing, but understand it can still be inconsistent in even the most tech-friendly neighborhoods.
Also, try to find a spot near a window with some natural light so you don’t feel completely tucked away from the world. Think about storage, and try to keep work-only items grouped together. Even if you’re only working at home temporarily, buy a couple of boxes, baskets or containers for work-related documents and supplies. When working from home, it’s always a good idea to have basics like pens, paper, staples or paper clips handy. (I still sometimes find myself with only one working pen in my entire home! How does that happen?)
2. Work First, Worry About Errands Later
Even when you’re working from a home office, it helps to maintain a schedule or set work hours. While everyone is different, many people definitely need to answer emails, schedule interviews, return calls and write copy early in the day. When you try to run errands in the morning and tell yourself you’ll get work done in the afternoon, you may end up doing dishes, watering plants, buying gifts online or finding some other not-so-legitimate excuse to avoid writing. Try to get work done early, before a family member or friend needs a favor or you start turning your attention to the grocery list.
We’d also suggest not checking work emails after 8 p.m. or not eating at the computer. (Deadlines, people!)
And make sure family and friends understand that just because you’re working from home, you’re still working. You may want your elderly mother to be able to call you anytime, but you can ask other family members and friends to respect my work hours and stick with the less obtrusive email or text for non-emergencies.
3. Think About Your Back, Feet and Shoulders
When you work on big projects and spend long hours in front of the laptop writing copy during a condensed period of time, your body tightens up. Pick a back-friendly, ergonomic chair if at all possible. You should always make time for exercise (don’t forget to stretch!) and potentially stand while you type.
You can invest in a new standing desk, or create one on your own — a vintage desk with some type of stand on top can work in a pinch. Try to make time for a daily walk, especially if you don’t have an exercise routine you already incorporate into your day.
4. Make Friends With Your Postal Worker or Delivery Person
Take the time to let your local postal worker or delivery person in your neighborhood know you’re now working from home if your work involves a lot of envelopes and packages. While all towns are different, you may find it helps when your local delivery person knows you’re working at home and sending and receiving envelopes and packages on a regular basis. You can make a point to say hi and talk with your local drivers, but something as simple as leaving a note on your door explaining your situation often works.
5. Pump the Brakes With Social Media
Social media can be absolute poison if you don’t limit yourself. It’s definitely good to stay on top of the news during these uneasy times, but if you allow yourself to be sucked into endless posts, you might look up at the clock and discover you lost three or four hours of your day.
You may enjoy social media and participate for both personal and work reasons, but you have to learn to use it wisely. Example: When working from home, maybe you find yourself on hold sometimes when making work calls, or stuck at your desk waiting for someone to return your message, so you’ll use that time to post a link to one of your latest stories or save posts that might help you for future stories.
That doesn’t mean you can’t laugh at someone’s funny online story, or post about your favorite sports team or TV show. Just try to limit the damage during work hours.
6. Find Someone Who Can Help With Tech Issues
When you work in a business office, you usually have a person dedicated to dealing with the tech issues that come up during the day. While many people love working in digital media, some are definitely not computer experts.
Try to plan ahead so you know you have someone to call when a work deadline is looming and you feel isolated at home.