How to thrive when working from home
All of us are slowly adjusting to new ways of life amid unprecedented actions.
While taking part in collective action can be empowering, this moment of uncertainty and social distancing can also be difficult -- especially if you're expected to continue working from home.
For those accustomed to working in an office or other collaborative space, this can be a difficult adjustment. But those of us who have spent most of our lives working remotely are happy to lend a hand.
Here are some tips and advice from a remote worker to help you get situated anew and build the foundations to thrive when not going into the office.
1. Set boundaries
If you have family or roommates home with you, it's important to create new boundaries with them so they know when and in which ways you are available. While you may have the time to do a quick chore or attend to an issue, such interruptions can be a headache, making projects harder to return to and requiring more time to settle back in. If those around you understand your schedule, expectations are clear and all of you are better served throughout the day.
Boundaries also apply to coworkers and colleagues. A distinct beginning and end to the workday have to be implemented. It's too easy to keep working past your cutoff time, or for others to continue to call and email into the evening or too early in the morning. Most of the time, when you leave work, you can mentally transition to leisure time -- but when you (and others) are home all the time, that transition can be harder. Especially during trying circumstances, it's vital to end the workday firmly and decidedly.
2. Eliminate distractions
Namely, the news. There is a deluge of information these days, and it's easy to try to consume everything or get lost reading one story after the other. Make sure you have a specific time where you are not getting alerts, not clicking on links sent by friends, and not wandering around online checking to see what's happening in the world.
This not only takes time away from work, but it can also disturb your mental and emotional state. And if you're not in the right head and heart space, it's harder to focus on work and complete tasks. Procrastination and inefficiency are rooted in distressed emotional states; if you're too preoccupied, you won't effectively get anything done.
Depending on who else is at home, working or otherwise, it may be worthwhile in investing in a set of noise-canceling Apple AirPods Pro. These can not only minimize noise and disruptions on your end, but they may be helpful to others if you are required to listen to any audio while working.
3. Get comfortable
Comfort is a basis for success, and comfort can mean a lot of different things to different people. It's important you find the "work setup" that is the best fit for you. For some, that means changing from house clothes into work attire each morning in order to have that more professional feel.
Others may find they're just as productive and dutiful wearing pajamas all day long. Perhaps you want to continue showering in the morning, or maybe put it off. Some people can work better with music, and some can't. That's why it's vital to check in with yourself and figure out the routines that are best for you.
This also applies to your office setup, whatever that may be. Perhaps you can work on the couch for a bit or at the dining room table. Others may need a more proper desk and solitude. Don't be afraid to experiment to see how you can be most comfortable and focused.
Plants can help create a cozier, more productive space; positive sounds and smells can do the same. We recommend investing in an essential oil diffuser if possible; lemongrass and peppermint scents in particular can motivate and invigorate. Save the lavender and other calming scents for after-work relaxation.
4. Stay balanced and active
Working from home in particular and extended isolation in general mean we all need to place more focus on being active and staying healthy. Set aside time before, after, or even during the workday to perform some sort of physical activity, be it yoga or a quick core workout. Meditation and gentle yoga exercises are useful on a lunch break to help break up the day.
You may want to invest in an ergonomic chair, keyboard, or mouse to take care of your joints and muscles over time. Pay attention to your posture, movement, and activity throughout the day: if you don't feel good, you won't work effectively.
Also take into consideration the time you're saving from working from home. There is no more commute, and maybe your morning routine is shortened. You don't need to account for traffic or weather anymore. Make that saved time your time. Whether that means a bit more sleep (which can help with stress and sickness), or time to read, write, reflect, or create, it's important to reclaim it for you.
5. Be kind to yourself
So much is changing so quickly, and these can be incredibly stressful and uncertain times for so many of us. As we tend to those around us and adapt to a different way of living, it's necessary that you don't try to do too much too soon. Chances are, you won't be as productive early on transitioning to working from home. That's okay. Don't try to do everything at once.
Working from home under the best of circumstances isn't for everyone, and on top of all that has taken place lately, it's understandable that retooling isn't the simplest of endeavors. Extend to yourself and others some more leniency, and don't pressure yourself in trying to get so much done that you mentally, emotionally, or physically wear yourself out. We're in this together.
Anthony Marcusa is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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