A lot of us are working remotely now due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. If that applies to you, you may have questions (or even anxiety) about it. Rest assured, that's 100% natural! I've been working remotely for just over three years now, and it actually took me a little while to get into my groove.
Below are a few tips to make your home workspace setup more productive and fulfilling. Keep in mind, my experience is without kids. Those of you with active kids at your side can still benefit from these tips — you may just need to modify your approach slightly or adjust your work hours when possible (and approved by your company).
Let’s get to the tips
1. It’s okay to take a technology break
When I started working from home, for weeks I felt compelled to stay by my computer at all times. I remember thinking, “If someone messages me or calls me and I'm not here, they’ll think I'm making laps on the ski hill.” But that isn’t the case, and I think you’ll find that to be true for you, too. It took me a while to remember that I get breaks too, even at home — just take them as you would if you were in the office. You still have to always be available for scheduled calls and meet your deadlines, but if you mix in a few short mental breaks throughout your day, you’ll find them to be natural and well deserved.
2. Find time to take care of yourself
If you end up with an early call, typically you’ll go straight from your bed to your desk or work area and get right to it — then you look up and realize it’s noon and you haven’t even showered or brushed your teeth yet. Yep, it happens. Just remember to find some time early in your day to take care of yourself — and if you can, get outside and get some fresh air periodically. Take a walk or just step out into your backyard for a bit. Don’t inadvertently burn yourself out!
3. Stick to your normal wake up time
How many minutes did you typically spend on your commute to the office? Well, now your commute is seconds, not minutes. What will you do with that time? You could sleep in a little if you need it, but I’d suggest getting up at your normal time and taking a short walk before you start work, or even make yourself a decent breakfast and catch up on the news. I’ve found that sticking to my normal wake up time (the same time I got up when I drove into the office) makes it feel like I have more time for me in my day. I also feel like I’m more alert and productive throughout the day.
4. Embrace a slower pace
Be patient with uploading and downloading files from servers. It’s going to be slower — at Two Rivers Marketing, we’ve sped up our work VPN considerably, but accessing an office server is never going to be as fast as if you were onsite. Take your time and enjoy a little slower pace. If you’re downloading a huge video file, you can always work on other things in the meantime. And another tip: Download or upload large files right before lunch or a break — your computer can be working while you’re taking care of other business.
5. Keep the TV off
I’ve found that a little music in the background isn’t nearly as distracting as having my TV on. I’d suggest some soft music if your home feels too quiet — but not too loud that you always have to adjust it when you get a call.
Most of all, just have some patience. Eventually, you’ll create a routine. If you stay adaptable, you’ll likely find that working from home can be just as productive and collaborative as it was back in the office.
If you have additional tips of your own, feel free to share them with us.