It’s hard to believe, but we are coming up on one year since COVID-19 entered the United States. For many of us, that meant working from home. Sometimes, for the first time ever. As we approach one year of working from home, here are some helpful tips on how to stay productive and healthy while quarantined.
1. Stake Out Your Spot
At home, distractions abound! 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. You also need a spot with all the essentials (like electrical outlets and your modem) 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. 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?)
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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. Don’t try to run errands in the morning and tell yourself you’ll get work done in the afternoon. When the afternoon rolls around you could 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!)
Finally, 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. However, you can ask other family members and friends to respect your work hours and stick with the less obtrusive email or text for non-emergencies.
3. Think About Your Back, Feet and Shoulders
Many of us spend long hours in front of our computers for hours at a time. This can cause your body to tighten 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. However, if you allow yourself to be sucked into endless posts, you might look up at the clock and discover you lost 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. For example, when working from home, maybe you find yourself on hold sometimes when making work calls. This is the perfect time to post a link to one of your latest stories or save posts that might help you for future stories.
This 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 an 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, many 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.