The recent COVID-19 has found many people working from home in an effort to stay socially isolated. Ash & Erie HQ has been working from home for the past week. We’ve rounded up our favorite tips for staying productive, balanced, and happy while working from home.
1. Maintain and create routine.
Routine is very important for most of us. Whether you like to go to the gym before work or make your kids lunch before school, it’s safe to say that everyone has a different set of routines now that many people are working remotely. What’s important is that you recreate routine where possible, and perhaps establish new routines that make sense for your new lifestyle!
One way to maintain routine is by establishing your work hours. When working from home, it’s easy to mix work and home life. To avoid that, set which hours you will work each day and stick to that!
Think about your favorite routines in life, whether that’s your morning coffee run or gym time, and try to recreate those routines at home! You can wake up extra early and brew yourself a cup or watch a home workout video, for example. While these routines will certainly look different from before, this does help keep you productive and happy when working at home.
2. Establish rules for those who share your space.
This advice applies to those who are working from home with others sharing their space. If you’re working from home alone, lucky you! Enjoy the freedom, and be sure to stay connected with friends and family during this time.
For the rest of us, we find ourselves working from home with others around. Whether that’s a significant other or kids in the house, you need to set boundaries and rules for how to effectively share your space. That may be telling your kids to not bother you for certain times during the day, establishing protocol for when it’s acceptable for your partner to play music out loud, or deciding where you and your roommate will take a conference call.
Similarly, it’s important to set up a dedicated workspace. When working from home, it can be hard for us to separate work and home life. One way to do that is to work in a dedicated area, not just lying on the couch or in bed. That way, when you sit down at your workstation, you know it’s time to work, and when you get up from the workstation, you know it’s time for home.
Without establishing and communicating with anyone in your work space, you will likely be annoyed and less productive.
3. Schedule breaks and go outside.
Schedule breaks throughout the day for lunch, snacks, going outside, and just stretching your legs. When you’re at home, it can be easy to not stop working. Your productivity will thank you if you schedule in breaks throughout the day.
Going outside is an important part of staying happy during this unknown time of social distancing. We can really take being outside for granted, but it’s a chance to breathe, get some fresh air, take a walk, and soak up any and all Vitamin D. So definitely don’t forget your outside time!
Just be sure to set your Slack or Outlook message to “lunch” and notify any relevant coworkers when you plan on taking breaks.
4. Over communicate with co-workers.
Most of us who are used to being in the office with our coworkers and teams are finding it difficult to be far apart. Before, you could turn your shoulder and ask your teammate or employee for something. Now, it’s not so easy!
That being said, you should strive to over-communicate to your teammates during this time period. We are more connected today than ever, and with a variety of messaging and video conferencing tools out there like Slack and Google Hangouts, there’s no reason we can’t be just as communicative even when working remotely!
If needed, set up time on your teammate’s, manager’s, or employee’s calendar to discuss a project or task that you’re working on if messaging or emailing won’t cut it. If you need help with something, ask! Don’t hesitate to over-communicate, as it will only help you and the team!
5. Get dressed.
While it can be easy and fun to show up to “work” in our PJs or gym clothes, we’ve found that it can make us more unproductive.
We have found that we’re so much more productive when we show up to “work” in normal work attire. Take a shower, get dressed, and even put on shoes if you need to. You’ll be astonished about how much of a difference it will make.
If you need some motivation, we recommend you try out a new outfit! Here are some of our favorite work from home attire:
Everyday Shirts: Our casual button-downs fit perfectly. Our motto: when you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, you’re more productive. Right?
Tees, Henleys, and Polos: For a more casual work-from-home style, try out our knits.
Chinos: A great way to recreate the office look at home.
Jeans: Working from home means casual Friday can be everyday!
5-Pocket Twills: Like jeans, but more colorful. You’ll love these pants.
If motivation is low, you’ll certainly feel more excited to go to “work” with a brand new outfit! While you may not have co-workers to compliment you in person, be sure to show off your new attire at your virtual meetings.
6. Create a to-do list with manageable goals everyday.
Every morning, write down everything that you need to get done that day. Once you have that manageable to-do list, create a plan for how to accomplish it. Make sure to include your breaks in your day’s plan!
Otherwise, we’re big fans of the Pomodoro method. Set a timer for 25 minutes. Turn off your phone and all other distractions and work on one task at a time. Depending on the length of the task, break the task up into manageable 25 minute pieces. Once the timer goes off, take a 5 minute break. This break can still be productive, like checking an email, but it is your mental break from the task at hand.
7. Don’t do personal tasks during the daytime.
It can be easy to get distracted during the day. Whether you’re online shopping or filing your taxes, it can be easy to work on personal chores during the work day. Try to completely avoid these personal tasks during the day.
While most of us are social distancing ourselves from others anyways, this rule also applies to any personal appointments. While at work, try not to make social plans or appointments during the workday.
8. Enjoy your flexibility.
While this is a time to create routines and stay productive, working from home can be hard and flexibility is key. If your productivity is wavering, take a break to do an at-home workout, take out the trash, or go for a walk. While it’s important to accomplish your work, it’s also important to be flexible if you feel that your productivity is diminishing.
9. Use your extra free time not commuting for good!
All of us have extra time at home without the added time commuting or with other social obligations. This is a time to reflect on your goals and use this time for good. Whether you’ve always wanted to learn how to play piano, make homemade beer, or train for a marathon, think of this extra time as a way to do that!
Write down what all you’d like to do during this extra free time, like reading or making a dessert with your kids. Then, add those things to your calendar! Schedule out when you plan to accomplish these things.
10. Stay connected.
Part of the enjoyment of work is being around your colleagues and friends! This time of working from home doesn’t allow for those water cooler conversations. Therefore, try to make it an intentional part of everyday life to connect with at least one person on your team. Whether that’s getting to “work” 15 minutes early to share a virtual coffee or scheduling a FaceTime call during lunch with your friend on another team, it’s important to be intentional about staying connected to your coworkers.
As we wait to see what the total effects of the COVID-19 situation will bring, the best piece of advice we can give you to get through this tough period is to stay positive and be flexible with your routine. Some of you are parents with children who will have to take a break more often than you’re used to. Others will have a harder time adjusting to the newfound flexibility working from home brings. Regardless of your situation, if you remember that we are all in this together, and we’ll get through this together.
This situation is unlike any other we’ve come across before, certainly not in our lifetime. The best thing you can do when it comes to work is to not judge yourself too harshly. We’re all adjusting to a new way of life for now, which means we’ll be faced with the “distractions” working from home may bring.
This weekend only, take 20% off all shirts with code WORKFROMHOME at checkout.
If you need a little motivation to stay productive, try out a new shirt! You can show it off to your co-workers on your video calls until you get a chance to see each other again in person.