The self-isolation necessary to curb the coronavirus has forced many into working from home, so it’s never been a better time to reflect a bit on the ins and outs of telecommuting.
Here to help demonstrate some tips of at-home work success are my live-in assistants and feline companions, Buster and Elwood (guest appearance from my brother’s teddy bear dog, Mr. Latte.)
Structure your Work & Create Accountability
It’s all too easy for tasks to go undone when there’s no longer a structure in place dictating our day. When someone isn’t looking over your shoulder, it can be hard to stay on task with what really matters.
Set up some self check-ins throughout the day to make sure the big important tasks aren’t getting drowned out by the sometimes frantic “little stuff.” It’s hard to police yourself, so create accountability. This could be a deadline, a reward (if I get this done, I can take off early), or a friend or colleague you ask to check in with you and ask how the task is coming along. Or, a pet with an intense stare will suffice.
Create a Designated Work Space
You might not have the luxury of a home office, but try to find an area with a door you can shut to create some focused time to work. If possible with your partner and/or kids, create blocks of work hours where you’re not to be disturbed. This will help you get into “work mode” and get things done before you re-enter the shared family living space.
Make Virtual Meetings count
The beauty of remote work is the easy access to virtual meeting tools like Skype, Zoom, Daily, FaceTime, and the like. Instead of getting straight down to business, take a few minutes to connect with people on a personal level during a virtual meeting. And use the benefits of virtual meetings like a chat window for brainstorming. See more tips on Virtual Meetings from my friend Chad over at We and Me, Inc: 3 Ideas on How to Have Better Virtual Meetings
Dress for success…or comfort
Some folks who work from home like to get showered and dressed for work as soon as they are up, just as they might on a normal “go to the office” workday. Others take a more… relaxed approach. Do what’s comfortable for you (…and acceptable if you have a video call) and enjoy the freedom and comfort of home!
Be Patient & Connect with People
Working from home is a difficult transition, even for those who are naturally introverted. Remember that your coworkers and friends are struggling too. Reaching out and venting about problems, stresses, or the absurdity of the situation can alleviate a lot of tension. Be patient with yourself and others, and don’t expect to become a remote-work master overnight.
Take Eye Breaks
Staring for hours at a computer screen can cause eye strain, headaches, and a whole bunch of other dry eye problems that I have discovered over the years. Follow the 20-20-20 rule. “For every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, a person should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.”
I use an app called BreakTime that will fade and lock my screen, forcing me to look away and stretch my legs for at least 2 minutes.
Don’t let someone’s birthday, a company achievement, or other special occasions pass by unrecognized just because an in-person party can’t take place. Get together for a virtual celebration, send an appreciative email or text, and plan a future hangout. Don’t forget the party hat.
Enjoy the Sunshine
We all know sunlight is good for us. Vitamin D helps boost our mood and can mentally energize us. Get out for a walk if it’s a nice day and enjoy! Or as Buster demonstrates above, sprawling out in sunbeam can really hit the spot.
Make Sleep a Priority
A well rested body has a stronger immune system and is better able handle stress. Working from home can throw off your normal routine and it’s easy to let your sleep cycle get out of whack quickly. Try to stick to a normal routine and make sure you’re getting the right amount of sleep for you. If we take Elwood and Buster as models, about 20 hours per day outta do it.
Make time for Play
Eventually, everyone will get a case of the stir crazies, even those long accustomed to remote work. Some my favorite silly breaks: turn up your favorite song and belt it out, get up and dance, or laugh along with a favorite standup comedy routine.
Or, follow Buster’s example – grab a loose hair tie and just go nuts.
I hope these actionable cats – er, tips – will come in handy.
Got a favorite work-from-home tip? Leave a comment below!