Working from Home Do's and Don'ts

working from home dos and donts

Working from home is becoming a common trend in the workforce. While working from is home appeals to many people, this opportunity also comes with many responsibilities. People who choose to work from home must be organized and focused on their work. Although there are many benefits of working from home, like the flexible hours and the comfort of your home, but there are also some challenges.

If you’re looking for some advice about telecommuting, here are some do’s and don’ts for working from home:

DO: Set regular work hours and stick to them

Ask any remote superstar, and this is bound to be near the top of their list. When you’re at home, it’s easy to lose track of what a normal workday is. This can lead to putting way too much, or way too little, time into what you need to do. Setting a regular daily schedule will help you switch your mind into work mode when it’s time to work, and back into play time when it’s time to be done.

DON’T: Force yourself to work 9-5

While it’s important to have consistent hours of work, one of the benefits of working from home is that you often have a bit more flexibility regarding when you work those hours.

DO: Make a list of everything you need to do in a day

If you’ve never worked remotely before, the change of environment can be a bit jolting, and can throw off your routine (and, as a result, your productivity). To keep yourself focused, make a list of everything you need to get done in the day. Then follow it. This prevents you from drifting off into lower-priority work, forgetting important deadlines, or worse, getting distracted by pets, YouTube videos, or social media. Making a list can be a great way to kick off your day. Alternatively, some prefer to make a list right at the end of their day so they know they’ll remember everything that needs to be tackled in the morning.

DON’T: Fall down a social media spiral

We’ve all been there. Just a quick check on an Instagram notification and all of a sudden 45 minutes has gone by. Not really the best habit to get into. If you have the self-control, set up times when you’re allowed to check notifications. And. Stick. To. Those. Times. If you don’t have it in you (no shame, the first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem), there are tools out there to help. The easiest one is just to turn off notifications, or even your ringer/text alerts altogether if you can do that.

DO: Plan meals and snacks

No one feels good after realizing they’ve just plowed through a family-size bag of munchie mix and a full box of Oreos. However, we do all need to eat, and some of you workaholics know that you can get so into a groove that you forget to eat altogether. You’ll be a stronger worker and feel like a better version of yourself if you have a system in place for your nutrition.

First, it’s a great idea to keep a glass and pitcher of water, or water bottle, with you. Next, designate snack breaks for yourself, and set alarms so you remember to take those breaks. Try to plan snacks ahead so you go for the best option, not just the mindless option.

DON’T: Work in your PJ’s

I know, I know, we are all groaning. Isn’t wearing comfy clothes one of the main perks of working at home? Yes, it is! Luckily, just because you’re not working in your pyjamas doesn’t mean you can’t be comfy. How formal you go is up to you, just make sure you feel like you and your best, most productive self.

DO: Define your office boundaries

Sorry, this means no working from under your covers, tucked into bed all day. Especially while in self-isolation, a big part of maintaining sanity is being able to separate your work time from your personal time. This is much easier to do when you have an area for working that you can go to when your work hours begin, and leave when they’re over. However you do it, be strict with yourself to have space reserved solely for work, and space reserved for the rest of your life.

DON’T: Forget to move

Getting your head out of your workspace, or getting your blood flowing through a quick mini-workout can be a great way to boost or restore your productivity! Get up and take a quick walk around your apartment, take out the garbage just try to get up and move around and stretch every once and awhile.

DON’T: Get schlumpy

Don’t let yourself get into a place where you feel gross while you’re working or by the end of the day. Don’t let yourself slouch on the couch for the entirety of your work day, don’t wear the same clothes for 72 hours straight, and keep up basic hygiene. It’s a weird time for us all, but we’re going to get through it together. You’ve got this, so have a shower, organize your desk, sit up tall, and don’t let this thing get you down.

DO: Make sure housemates understand when you can’t be interrupted

Depending on who your housemates are, this can be easier said than done. If they’re fully-functioning adults, perhaps also working from home, hopefully healthy work boundaries can easily be set and maintained.

If your housemates are two toddlers and a five-year-old, this may be trickier business.

When kids are really young, there’s not much getting around it: they’ll need some adult supervision at all times. The best thing you can do in this case is be organized. If you have help or are able to get help, even better. Try scheduling work between you and your partner so that you can each have at least a few hours of uninterrupted work time. Schedule activities the day before, or even set an agenda for the entire week so that kids have something to do at all times. Allow flexibility within that schedule, but always have an option available so boredom never gets the best of you or them.

DO: Take breaks

Taking breaks is a vital part of optimizing your productivity. In this day and age, our breaks tend to just be switching from one screen to another, and don’t involve much more movement than that. These aren’t the kind of breaks your mind and body need. When you’re taking a break, make sure you really switch things up. Get up and move around. Talk to whoever’s around, or even give someone a phone call. Open a window and get some fresh air, or go for a walk if you’re able to. Really remove yourself from your work, your work space, and change your physical position, and you’ll find you’re much better and more alive with your work when you settle back into it again.

DON’T: Be on screens 24/7

Once you get off the clock, it can be almost primitive to switch immediately to social media. When you can’t get out and don’t have much else to do, Netflix is often the default choice for passing the time. However, all this screen time can take its toll on a person. Sooner or later, we all get that glazed-over, brain-dead feeling that doesn’t make anyone feel good about themselves. Really try to schedule at least 2 hours of screen-free time a night. This could involve picking up an old hobby, like playing an instrument, baking, cooking, reading, writing, crafting, or building something. Do a full clean of your entire house. Organize all of your closets and storage rooms, and get to any DIY projects you’ve been putting off. Though this might not seem like it directly applies to your work, it does much more than you might think. When you’re taking care of yourself, you do better in all areas of life.

DO: Take a breath of fresh air!

Obviously, some of us are a bit limited in our outdoor access at the moment. If you are able to get out to take a walk, do it! If you’re able to drive yourself out of town on the weekend to somewhere more remote, go for a hike there! If none of that is an option to you, even opening a window is better than nothing. Cabin fever is a real thing; being able to feel the wind on your face and remind yourself that there is a world beyond your walls is not just a nice pick-me-up, but rather critical for your overall mental, emotional, and physical health.

DON’T: Be too hard on yourself

It goes without saying that this is a weird time. All of us are being asked to make adjustments and sacrifices in the ways that we would like to be spending our time. While there are lots of silver linings to find in all of this, it’s okay to have moments and days where the events get you down, and you don’t feel like you’re doing your best work. You might even have some very full-on schlumpy days. It’s okay. Be gentle with yourself. We’re all just doing our best, and hopefully we can all have grace for one another, and for ourselves.

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