Updated: Aug 30, 2020
Hi everyone! With the pandemic going on, I know a lot of people have been forced to adapt to an extremely different lifestyle than they are used to, which for some people includes working from home. Over a year ago, I started working from home for a half day, which then turned into a full day after 6 successful months. When my husband was offered a position on a new project his company bid on in Asheville, I discussed the possibility of working remotely full-time with my boss. Thankfully, my boss agreed to it and I was able to keep my job. Weirdly enough, my husband and I moved several weeks before COVID-19 hit the US badly, so I was already adjusting to working from home full-time. I have picked up quite a few useful tips and tricks for working from home.
1. Communication is key.
I’m sure everyone knows this already, but it is so much more important when you aren’t sitting in an office with your boss and co-workers. The company I work for uses Slack for most of our communication, which I think is a great choice for many companies. I think it is better if you’re overcommunicating, rather than not saying enough. Ask questions. Ask for help if you need it. Double check which projects are priority. Make sure you’re on the same page as your boss and co-workers. Help out if someone asks for it.
2. Take breaks.
In my opinion, breaks are essential for any job, but even more so when you’re working from home. It can be easy to keep working later than you normally would or to not step away from the computer if you’re in the middle of a project. However, it is important to take a step back from your job every few hours. Go on a walk. Eat lunch with your spouse or family. Read a book. Whatever you do, make sure you’re not working non-stop for 8+ hours a day because that’s a fast way to stress yourself out and can also lead to burnout.
3. Create a dedicated office space.
If you have a spare bedroom or another type of unused space, turn it into an office. Having a room you can go to where you can shut the door and feel like you’re still going to work helps a lot. Even if you don’t have a room you can convert into an office, you can always use your living room if you have to. I would suggest not using your bedroom or working in bed because that is not conducive to productivity.
4. Schedule your time.
I use Google calendar to block out hours at a time for each of my dedicated projects for the week. Every Monday morning, the first thing I do is schedule my entire week and give myself goals.
5. Check in with your boss.
It’s important to make sure your boss knows what you’re working on and what you’ve accomplished each day or each week, depending on how frequently they want an update. Even if you’re the most trustworthy employee in the world, they will still want to know how you’re spending your time.
6. Keep track of what you’re working on.
One way I do this is what I mentioned in #4; scheduling my week in Google calendars. But I also create a Google sheet every week listing which projects I completed each day. This way, when your boss asks what you’ve been working on and wants to know how you’ve been spending your time, you can give them access to your Google calendar and send them a weekly Google sheet as well.
7. Wake up at your usual time.
I have found that waking up at the same time I did before when I had to drive to the office has helped me adjust to working from home. I’m already used to it and it gives me extra time in the morning to read or work on my novel before I have to clock in.
8. Get dressed.
I’m not saying you have to wear a suit and tie or your best dress or a full face of make-up, but wearing sweatpants for two weeks straight probably isn’t going to make you feel great. I feel lazier when I wear my pajamas all day. If you at least put on regular clothes, it will help you get in the right mindset to be productive and work your hardest.
9. Set boundaries.
Not only for your boss and/or co-workers, but you should also set boundaries for your family. Make sure they know you shouldn’t be disturbed during certain hours unless it’s an emergency. You can eat lunch with your family or spend time with them if you’re taking a short break during the day.
10. Take advantage of technology.
Technology is constantly evolving and improving. There are so many great tools you can use while working from home. These include Zoom, Discord, and other video call services, Slack for instant messaging, Trello or ClickUp to assign and keep track of projects with your team, and so many others.
I hope these tips help anyone who is currently working from home and struggling to figure out how to adjust. Let me know if you have any other tips to add or if any of my tips help you!