Over the weekend as we learned more about the COVID-19 outbreak I was feeling very discouraged. The thought of spending more time at home, when I work from home felt claustrophobic. In an effort to come to peace with the need to “flatten the curve” I started to review my routine and brainstorm ways to get excited about being home more instead of dreading it. I hope my thoughts my help those who are not yet used to working from home.

 

Get Dressed

One of the challenges for me of working from home is creating boundaries. I need delineation between “home mode” and “work mode.” So, I get dressed and I put on shoes (slippers totally count!)

If one of the perks for you of working from home is staying in your PJs all day, give it a shot! And, if you don’t want to get dressed may I suggest clean PJs and brushing your teeth? It will make a difference in your mindset.

The other reason to always get dressed? You never know when someone will want to have a last minute video call. Sure you can run and throw something “appropriate” on but it’s much easier to just get dressed.

 

Have a Routine

For me the biggest challenge of working from home is finding the balance of working 40 hours. It’s really easy to work too little, or too much. Sometimes the flexibility is great, but I try not to be too flexible. Maybe your office is creating a routine for you, or maybe this is the time to try a new routine that works better with your life and habits.

Right now, I pretend I have to get to work by 8 a.m. every day, like I would if I was going into the office and I leave by 4 p.m. I take the dog on a walk at 11 a.m. everyday and eat while checking my email after our walk.

Also, consider what other routines you might need to continue: do you make a cup of coffee in the office each morning while waiting for your computer to boot up? Do you read a website daily? Do you check-in with a co-worker when they come in at 10 a.m.? Whatever your routines, keep them up during this transition.

 

Find Space

You might not have (or want) a home office. That’s ok! You will want a consistent, comfortable space where you have access to things like: power outlets, cell service, a decent background for video calls, etc. If you pick a space you use for something else like a dining table, there is a lot of good closure when you turn off your computer at the end of your day and move it out of the way.

As tempting as they may be, your bed or coach should be your spaces of last resort for working. They are not conducive to productivity, or good for you ergonomically.

 

Take Breaks

Don’t forget to take breaks! Sitting all day isn’t good for your body, or normal for you. What do you normally do in your office? Get more coffee? Check the mail? Find something at home you can do too. Maybe a quick walk around the block to see the sun? Put in a load of laundry? 10 jumping jacks? Whatever works for you!

 

Over Communicate

Team communication is a challenge when I work from home. The best way to keep healthy team relationships is to “over communicate” If you have a question, ASK! Its 2020, we have access to so many options! Phone, text, chat, email, video- whatever works for you. Be sure to send follow-ups, let people know you received their communication. If you have a co-worker you are close to who you regularly check in with, keep it up!

If you don’t already send your boss and/or team a weekly progress email, now is a great time to start! What metrics are most important in your role? How can you best share what you actually “did” this week?

 

Prepare for Video Calls

Video calls can be challenging. Make sure you check your lighting and the placement of your camera. Test the software (especially if you are screen sharing!) We all have technical challenges from time to time but minimizing the chance will make you feel more confidant.

 

Take Care of Yourself

I love a cartoon I saw the other day that said something to the effect of: “I thought hard work would make me successful. It turns out its hard work, time off, sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet.” Find ways that work for YOU to eat nutritious food, sleep, and get your heart rate up every day. And don’t forget to drink enough water!

 

Get Social

Working from home can feel lonely. Getting together with co-workers and friends takes more effort when you don’t see them daily.

Normally, I plan one fun thing with a friend every week. Often its Wednesday night Bingo. In this time of COVID-19 and social distancing may I suggest planning a FaceTime call with a friend or two each week?

 

It’s OK if You Don’t Like it

You might not like working from home- that’s ok! It’s great that you have learned that about yourself. Hopefully you will be able to return to the office soon!

 

What else do you have to add? Please leave me a comment!

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