I hope you are doing well!!!
For the last...almost three months...a lot of us have been working from home. It's a MAJOR adjustment. It doesn't matter if you're single, in a relationship, married, have kids, single mom etc...working from home in isolation is a big change and it's so difficult to adjust to.
You might not know this, but I worked from home full time for 2 years as a digital marketing consultant. While I still consult, I'm not doing it full time. After I finished mat leave I ended up getting a new job where I get to work from home (pre-Covid). I was excited to have more flexibility, but there are some things I will do differently now that I wish I had done previously.
Before, I lived in a basement apartment. I set up my workspace in my bedroom - and I wish I had set it up in my living area. I also didn't give myself enough boundaries and found that if I was at home, I would answer an email at any hour. Although I decided to take on a waitressing job part-time to get me out of the house and make some extra money, after that shift was over I sometimes (actually most times) found myself sitting down to follow up on emails or even start some work. That ultimately ended up burning me out and eventually I made the decision to sell off my clients and go back to the office.
Based on that experience and where I am now, I've created some great tips to help you work more effectively at home, and also enjoy it!
1. Create A Routine
This is probably the most important advice I will ever give to anyone who is working from home for the first time. You can't sleep in. You can't watch t.v. all day, and you can't just work whenever you want. You will never be productive if you do this. Instead, go about your day as though you were going into the office. I wake up at 7am (sometimes earlier depending on Huxley), shower, do my hair, do my makeup and get dressed. Am I wearing trousers and a blouse every day? No. But I usually wear something comfortable on the bottom like a pair of yoga pants with a nice top in case I need to hop on any video calls. I make my coffee, have breakfast, watch the news and then get my day started at my desk. As soon as I start working...the t.v goes off. Sometimes I'll have a record playing in the background if I'm just answering emails - but I often find background noise really distracting, so I prefer silence.
When it's not a pandemic and self-isolating is not required, I might go to the gym do a workout on my lunch. Sometimes that helps get me refreshed and focused for the second part of the day.
I take a lunch if I have time - or I eat at my desk while I work (which I know is a horrible habit), and I take breaks when I can. I finish working at 4:30 pm and I shut down my computer and tidy up my desk. I don't log back on because 4:30 pm is when I have time for my family and I want to make undistracted time for them. If things are really busy at work, I might log on for another hour after Huxley goes to sleep. Otherwise, I follow my usual routine.
2. Put Effort and Consideration Into Your Workspace
This is really important too. A makeshift desk will never be comfortable or effective long-term. Right now, I've basically adopted our dining table as my desk (we rarely ate at it anyway). It's actually beautiful - marble top! I love that it sits under beautiful photos of my family, so I can see my son and my boyfriend all day. I made sure that it was a bright space, had things that make me happy (fresh flowers, a nice candle, and pretty colours). But I tried to make it as ergonomic as possible! I bought a keyboard, a mouse and laptop riser to keep me comfortable. I think my desk chair could probably be better, but I use throw pillows, which not only make it more comfortable - but also cute. I clean up my space at the end of the day and make sure nothing else is collected on there. Because my space is in our living room, it's an easy spot for pile up, but I make sure that doesn't happen.
3. Set Boundaries For Working Hours
One thing I really struggled with the first time I worked from home was working hours. I really didn't set boundaries for myself and in the end, I ended up burning out and getting extremely exhausted. I began associating work with my home, which meant that if I was home, it didn't matter what time it was, I was answering emails and working on projects. This is unacceptable if you want a healthy work/life balance. My working hours are 8:30am-4:30pm. I try not to work outside those hours.
4. Invest in Ergonomic Accessories
I touched on this above, but I felt it deserved its own point. Things are slowly going back to 'normal' but a lot of offices are now realizing that allowing employees to work from home is great for their employees on many levels. If you plan on working from home even just a few days a week, your space should be considered, and so should your furniture and accessories. Comfort is important. Sore wrists, neck, eyes, and back can be the result of a work space that is not ergonomic. These are things that should be invested in. You are at your desk for almost 8 hours a day!
5. Take Breaks And Remove Yourself
You can't stay in the same spot for hours! It will drive you nuts! Every 30 minutes I get up...I walk around, I do some squats, grab something to eat, get some water, go on our balcony, head across the street for coffee if I feel like treating myself...I do whatever I can to move and remove myself from my work space. Giving myself a break from my work and work space makes a huge difference in your productivity. You would probably be doing the same at an office anyway!
I hope you find these tips helpful if you are working from home!