Saturday, March 21, 2020

Working from Home Tips!

Tips for Working at Home

Hello, Everyone!

As the COVID-19 spreads around the world, more and more people are finding themselves working from home. This may feel weird to you. You may be resistant. You may need to have a few tips to stay organized and productive.

I’ve been working from home for over thirty years. Yes, I’ve had “outside world” jobs as well from teaching musical theatre to chopping veggies at a grocery store to patient acting and background acting and dog walking and reading tarot cards at parties and so much more.

However, my biggest chunk of working has been at home; writing books, editing other people’s books, copywriting, transcribing, making videos for YouTube, going live on Twitch, teaching online at Udemy and soon for a college, and so on. These days I live in a one-room studio in an Artist’s Co-op by myself but the patterns of working from home don’t change.

1.       Have a dedicated work space. This is the most important. You may have the luxury of an office area on your own floor with a door that shuts. Or you may have the kitchen table with your laptop. Wherever you choose to set up your home office, be consistent. Yes, you can take your laptop around the house or onto the balcony, and you can do that sometimes to break up the monotony. But for the most part, have a dedicated space. Believe me, it really helps mentally to have an “office.”

2.       Have a routine. This is super important. Get up every day at the same time. Your routine may fluctuate, especially if you have other people in the home, but really get them and you into a routine. My routine forever, when I was a single mom, when I was married, when I was single living alone…is to get out of bed between seven and nine, depending on how late I was up the night before and how many times I was up in the night. I go to the bathroom and put on a pot of coffee. Sometimes I’ll take a shower while waiting for the coffee, sometimes I’ll have a cup of coffee and then take a shower.

3.       GET DRESSED. Even if you just change one set of pajamas for another, take a shower and get dressed. This is a work day. You must mentally prepare for one. You can wear your underwear but take a shower and change your outfit.

4.       Assess your day. Make a list on a piece of paper or calendar of your goals for the day. What needs to get done. Include exercise, kids, etc. in your list.

5.       Be flexible. You can try to keep a schedule and if you live alone, you can likely keep it. However, with the constant news update, the anxiety of the pandemic, it’s better to keep a list of what you need to do but be a bit flexible about when this is going to happen.

6.       Give yourself a break. Sometimes, especially in these times, it’s good to work hard for a chunk of time and then stop for a bit. Some people use timers. It also depends on the nature of your work and if you have meetings or if you’re doing live online teaching.

7.       Have an end to your work day. As a creative type, I don’t really have a workday end, but those of you who aren’t used to this lifestyle, give yourself a proper beginning and end to the workday. You can do it by tasks or you can do it by time. Stephen King has been doing this forever, he writes a set amount of words per day and once that’s finished, the rest of the day is his. If he takes all day and night to create those words, so be it. If he gets it all done by seven am, the whole day is his!

8.       Take meal breaks. Make yourself a proper lunch. Eat it properly with the family or at a table. Try not to eat at your desk if you’re not used to working at home. You need to get familiar with working at home so use your snack and meal breaks to clear your head.

9.       Exercise. This means standing up every hour and stretching. This is vital now that we all can’t leave our homes. Do good things for your hands, fingers, wrists, neck, shoulders, back, lower back, legs, etc.

For more intensity: You can jump around to a Zumba class or do stretches or anything else. There are tons of routines on YouTube and Twitch that are pre-recorded and now a lot of people are doing live exercises as well. Stretches are vital for desk sitting. Also, get some cardio in at some point. Walking in place, marching, jumping jacks, dancing. You can walk in place watching news updates. You can dance around to your favourite songs.

Stretching and walking around is very important for blood flow. Try to do this every hour. Then pick a time or two during the day/night to do a bit of cardio, even five minutes a few times a day can really add up. I know someone who had a stroke because she never stood up from her desk or went to the bathroom or took walks at her real-life day office job and she was only in her forties. Now she’s a disaster. So, don’t discount just standing up and stretching to keep blood flow going, prevent blood clots, prevent heart attack and stroke.

10.   Stop working at some point in the day or night. Or at least, turn off the email. Turn off the phone. Or, you could set up your email and phone text with different notification sounds so that you know which are work and which are play. You are allowed to not work twenty-four seven.

11.   You don’t have to answer emails, texts, phone calls right away. You are allowed to prioritize them just as you would at the office. People can wait a day or two for an answer, no one is going anywhere! Don’t feel obligated that you have to answer everyone all the time the minute you are dinged.

12.   Have a routine. I can’t stress this enough. Be flexible but have a routine.

I’ll likely add to this list as I think of more things. The biggest takeaways are:

Have a routine

Get dressed


Take breaks

Good luck!