I have worked from home exclusively for three decades, side by side with my partner/ husband. Now, almost everyone I know is working from home. We’re starting to hear some pretty loud grumbling. Google “work from home tips.” It yields thousands of hits. IMHO, most of these tips are not remotely based on the realities of working from home.
Here are my Top 20 Work from Home Tips, The Reality-Based Version:
1) Stay away from the fridge. It will call you regularly, like a siren. Learn to ignore it. Or padlock it. Just walk away.
2) Eat regular meals at fixed times. If you don’t, it will be supper-time before you know it.
3) Don’t drink coffee at your desk. It will spill, and you will ruin your keyboard. Don’t eat at your desk. That’s just gross. Google “How dirty is my keyboard.” Granted, it’s not as bad as coronavirus, but it is bad.
4) Get off that chair. Outside is best, but even up and down the stairs, around the living room. I have a mini trampoline, so I go for a bounce 2-3 times a day for 10 minutes at a time. It really changes my attitude.
5) Get a dog or foster a dog. When that dog has to pee, you have no choice but to go for a walk.
6) 20/20/20. Every 20 minutes, get up. Look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This helps reduce eyestrain, changes your perspective, and gets you off your butt.
7) If you have kids are home, your time will be chopped up in a million pieces. Learn to parallel play. Get them busy on the floor or a nearby desk with Playdoh, reading, puzzles or drawing, or yes, even a video or video game. We always had a desk for our kids in our office. Granted, it’s not top-quality family time, but it beats having them sequestered in their rooms.
8) Got babies? Learn to work FAST when they are napping or asleep. Enough said on that.
9) If you have kids, have plenty of do-it-yourself-snacks read and available. Grapes, fruit pops, pretzels that you put in single-serving cups, small sandwiches are great go-tos. If you don’t do this, you’ll constantly be getting up for snacks. And you’ll start to hate the word “snack”…if don’t already.
Get to Work
10) Plants. Have plants around you. Green things help you breathe and bring a little of the outside to the indoors.
11) Limit social media, online shopping, and “surfing” (do we still use that term?). Look at these only after work hours. You think you’re checking Facebook for 10 minutes, but that sucking sound is that last two hours of your life.
12) Make your own hours. When do you work best? One of the best things about working from home is that you can have a flexible day. Blow off an hour for a walk or to do laundry or take a nap midday. Make it up elsewhere.
13) Use a landline? Get caller ID. So many calls are SPAM. Answering these will ruin your flow.
14) Streamline your email box. Organize folders that automatically sort your senders. This makes it easier to find what you are looking for. Flag the essential TO DO items. It’s so satisfying to click that item “off” as each task is completed.
15) Send short emails. We’ve found that many people read emails on their phones and don’t scroll down to see the 2nd paragraph. Then we have to resend emails to get critical answers. Keep it short and straightforward.
16) Password management is vital. To prevent tearing out your hair regularly, use a password management service like Keeper or Lastpass.
17) Back up your stuff on a hard drive located on your desk, and also use an external service like Google or Carbonite. Or you will be ugly crying sometime soon. Do it. Trust me.
18) Play nice with your office mate. Take time to actively listen when they talk. I often listen with half an ear. It’s rude, and it leads to quarrels.
19) Don’t answer every phone call or email immediately. If I’m in a flow, writing code, or creating website content, I can’t function with constant interruptions. I have to turn off the email beeps and the phone ringer for a while. That’s ok. We are always here for clients, but it does not have to be in real-time, all the time.
20) Stay in your jammies if you like. I know, everybody else says you must get dressed. That’s just bull. Wear whatever you want and feel comfy in. You’ll be most productive when you’re feeling good.
That’s it, my top twenty work from home tip. Working a home certainly has its challenges. It has been a way of life for us for the past three decades. It works for us, and we hope it works for you too.
I’ve cursed the internet upon occasion, in the past. It follows me everywhere… on hikes, on vacations, during personal time. But these days, I realize that the ability to connect virtually is a true and pure blessing.
All the best to you and to yours!