Working From Home Tips and Tricks
- Set aside time in the day to check in with the people/projects you work with.
- Set aside collaboration time.
- If you are working on a project with others and feel like it would be helpful to chat things out, set up “collaboration window” working sessions where you all jump on a meeting together and do your work/discuss questions or issues.
- This is especially helpful for questions that come up that are difficult to ask via messaging; it also shouldn’t impact billable time too much, since it’s time you would normally be spending on the project anyway.
- Video chats and frequent touch points.
- Turn on your camera during internal meetings as much as possible and get face-to-face time.
- Message like you mean it.
- Check in, tag people, ask questions, and ask for calls if you need them. Being remote requires taking initiative to communicate when you need it.
Separating Work and Home
- Create a separate work space!
- It should be dedicated to work only (as much as possible). I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. When I worked remotely in a studio apartment, I set up my desk inside of an old entertainment wardrobe so that I could still close the door on my work space even if I couldn’t leave the room. Being able to “close the door” when you’re not working is a huge factor in being able to separate the two.
- Morning routines are essential.
- As easy as it is to roll out of bed and start working, this wears on you over time. Get up a little bit early and make time for the things you enjoy in the morning before you sit down to work. For example, when I wake up, the first thing I do is some yoga, then I walk my dog, drink some coffee, maybe write a bit, tend to my plants, or do some light cleaning or other self/home-care tasks, and then I sit down to work.
- End of day routines are equally as important.
- In the way that commuting creates a capstone to when you start and stop working, morning and end of day routines help to create that same time-blocking effect. End of day routines are a little bit different in consulting because we need to work when we need to work, but I find that still having a routine at the end of the day helps a lot to create balance. At the end of my workday, I take a few minutes to make sure my time is logged, walk my dog, work out, eat dinner, and then if I still need to get some work done, I’m able to go back to it without feeling like I’ve just burned my entire day on the computer.
- Create a consistent routine/schedule.
- I don’t personally believe in getting dressed for the office in order to be able to focus, but I do still need to follow a “routine” in the morning to feel like my day has started and I’m ready. I also try to keep to the same schedule every day as much as possible; this also helps your team know when they can consistently reach you.
- Set and maintain boundaries with housemates.
- Working from home with other people in the house can be challenging. Especially if they aren’t working themselves. Creating a way to communicate “Do Not Disturb” hours is extremely important. I’ve seen people utilize signs, color-coding systems, lights, hand signals, or any multitude of different ways to communicate their “disturb-ability scale”. Being able to clearly communicate with your housemates the way that you need to work is huge. This is also where maintaining a regular routine/schedule can be very helpful.
- Set and maintain boundaries on technology.
- It’s so incredibly easy to let personal devices creep into your workspace while working from home. I’ve had my fair share of “This movie is just white noise in the background” lies that I’ve told myself. The reality is that it’s way easier to make sure you’re focusing on work if you are actually focusing on work. Create a schedule for your own device access and utilize screen-time limitation features and try to keep only work devices in your work space. Also try to only check messages during breaks and keep the news, TV, games, extracurricular tech to after work hours.
- Take advantage of the freedom (responsibly).
- If you have a few minutes between calls, go stretch your legs and do the dishes, take the trash out, wipe down the bathroom mirrors, take a shower, do your nails, go on a walk, or do some sit ups, etc. Those quick trips that you would normally take to the break room should still be taken, but now you get use them to invest in your own self/home care.
- Work from your phone.
- Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you can’t still work from your phone. Take a trip to the couch and catch up on your messages there instead of chaining yourself to your desk for every task.
- No one wants bedsores from working in bed all day long. It’s really easy in our line of work to get sucked in and keep at a task until we can’t see, but that will leave us feeling exhausted and burned out. Do your best to take at least a minimum of 15 minutes a day to do something active.
Dealing With Being Remote in a Pandemic
- All of the above become even more important!
- Dedicating time to creating something has been a huge help.
- Hobbies aren’t hobbies anymore; they are clear and identified lifestyle choices now. Grow things, make things, learn things. There’s not a whole lot we can control in this scenario, but the one thing we do get to control is how we spend our time. Putting time into things that make us feel good ends up making us feel good.
- Find a way to release your energy.
- Scream into the night. Blast music and dance like no one is watching (‘cause they really aren’t). Go into your garage and throw shit. Whatever helps you get rid of what you don’t need, and feel better.
- All of the standard advice is real and good.
- Limit checking the news to once a day. Go on a walk. Video call with family and friends. All of that standard advice that you hear over and over again is standard for a reason. It helps.
- Self care, self care, self care.
- Find something that makes you feel good and do it. Skin care. Baths. Cooking. Grilling. Drink that wine outside. Bake that bread. Sleep when you feel like you need it. Take your vitamins. Do laundry. Talk to a therapist. Meditate. Be present. Watch the birds. Find whatever the hell it is that gives you peace and makes you feel good and do it.
Stay strong, friends. We’re all figuring this out together!