Working from home was everybody’s dream—until it suddenly became reality.
As a writer who’s worked remotely for close to two decades, I can’t count the number of times people have told me, “You’re so lucky! I’d love to work in my pajamas!” While telecommuting definitely has perks (no gridlock, no dress code), it comes with a unique set of challenges. Here are a few pro-tips for navigating your new WFH life.
1. Get Ready for Work
Take a shower, brush your teeth, and put on actual clothes. You wouldn’t wear a suit and tie to bed, so don’t wear pajamas to work. Whether you dress to impress for a Zoom meeting or keep it casual with jeans and a t-shirt, you’ll feel much more productive when you look presentable.
2. Stick to a Schedule
When working from home, maintaining boundaries becomes tricky—because now you never really leave the office. While some enjoy the flexibility of working past midnight and sleeping in, most people will benefit from a bit more structure. Aim to be at your desk around the same time as you’d normally get to the office and finish up at the usual quitting time. You’ll be available for co-workers and clients throughout the day, then make the mental shift into home mode.
3. Take Breaks
In most office jobs, a 40-hour workweek rarely entails 40 hours of actual work. You’re not chained to the desk for an eight-hour stretch—you chat with work mates, run out to grab lunch, and perhaps do a bit of social networking. So factor some down time into your WFH schedule. Take 10 minutes to unload the dishwasher. Walk around the block to clear your head. Make a pot of tea. Try a mood-lifting dance break. Then return to your work with a renewed sense of focus.
4. Avoid Distractions
If you’re working at home with a spouse or kids, this can be particularly challenging. If possible, set aside a workspace with a door and establish guidelines, i.e. closed door means “do not disturb,” door ajar equals “important interruptions only,” and open door means “I could use a break.” Stuck working in a communal area? Two words: noise-cancelling headphones.
5. Stay Social while Distancing
When you’re used to the camaraderie of a team, working from home can feel isolating—now more than ever. Stay connected via Slack, FaceTime, Zoom, or other networking platforms. Whether you’re attending a virtual meeting, hosting a stay-at-home happy hour, or simply catching up with co-workers, a little human interaction makes a big difference.
6. Stop Scrolling
Spoiler alert: there’s no good news right now. For every uplifting post on social media, you’ll encounter 20 that could send you into a spiral of despair. If you can’t quit Facebook or Twitter cold turkey, establish limits and set a timer. You’ll thank yourself later.
7. Cut Yourself—and Everyone Else—Some Slack
Adjusting to the “new normal” will take time, so just getting through the day can be an accomplishment. With everyone’s nerves on edge, it’s easy to lose your patience with coworkers, clients, family, and friends. Take a breather before saying something you may regret. Normally, you’d be advised to count to ten, but these days just sing “Happy Birthday” once.
Whether you’re working from home temporarily or embarking on a telecommuting career, these simple tips will help make the transition easier.