With concerns about the coronavirus spreading, some offices are starting to have their employees work from home. For many, this will be the first time they are confined to their living spaces to get work done. If you've ever worked from home, you know that it is a completely different experience from going into an office every day.
I've worked from home for almost two years. It was definitely a huge adjustment from office life, and to be honest, I still have days or weeks when working from home is a struggle. However, in my time at home, I've learned many tips and tricks to help me formulate a somewhat regular routine that allows me to be productive and not go totally insane!
And there are others out there who have the same type of experience. One Twitter user implored others to share their work-from-home tips to help those who might be going through it for the first time.
A lot of people think working from home is practically vacation. But when you're still expected to do your job, it can feel more like work than going to work does sometimes. It can be super hard to maintain healthy habits and get into a rhythm that works for you.
Because you will be living and working in the same space, boundaries between the two tend to disappear, making your whole life seem like one, endless workday.
Because of that, it is so so important to differentiate between your work time and your personal time. Some work-from-homers will have more flexibility than others, but in general, many of the tips and tricks people responded with had to do with enforcing these boundaries, whether it's by using a workspace that is separate from your bed or your couch or making sure to shower and get dressed to "go to work" each morning.
Setting regular work hours, too, is a huge one. Some people will be on a rigid schedule with the rest of their team members. But others might have the ability to sort of design their own work day. No matter your situation, it can be so useful to have designated work time and designated personal time.
Otherwise, like I said, they're going to bleed into each other and you won't know making dinner from compiling a report. It will all feel the same.
This doesn't necessarily mean that you need to stick to a typical 9-6 workday, though! Maybe you work great in the morning, need the afternoon for chores and errands, and then pick back up for a couple hours of work at night. Whatever works for you is fine. It's just a good idea to set those hours and stick to them.
A huge, huge part of this is recognizing that while you're working, you're at work. This is important for both you and anyone you live with — partners, children, pets — to grasp.
If you were in the office, you wouldn't be expected to do the dishes in your sink at home. Likewise, during your work hours, you should not feel pressure to do anything other than your job. All that other stuff can happen on your personal time, just like it would if you were working in an office.
Believe me, I know it can be tempting to try to do it all! After all, you're there. It's there. You should be able to just do it. Right? But that is, at least for me, a recipe for burnout. I've tried it. It doesn't work.
Maybe this will work for you. Maybe it won't. The point is to do whatever it is you have to do to convince yourself that you have entered the work day. Maybe it's taking a shower and putting on work clothes. Maybe it's taking a walk around the block to feign a "commute."
Maybe it's making sure you have a designated work area, whether it's a home office or a desk in the corner of the room or a particularly work-conducive section of your couch.
Lots of people say "Don't work in your bed! Don't work on your couch! Don't work anywhere where you enjoy your life!" For many, that's unrealistic — they just don't have the space. And for me personally? It doesn't matter. I work in my pajamas almost every day. I work on my couch a lot and in my bed occasionally, usually when it's super cold out and I'm not ready to get out of it yet.
If you can make the mental shift, that's all that matters. You may have to try a few different things to find what works for you! And what worked one day or week or month might not work the next. Be open to adjusting your routine as needed, and you'll be just fine.
Also, you have to accept that you will get distracted and that you won't be able to concentrate nonstop all day. That's OK. That's no different than any other work situation. If you were in an office, you'd take breaks for office treats, bathroom breaks, coffee runs, chitchats with coworkers, etc.
The distractions are undoubtedly different at home, and they might in some cases take more willpower to reel yourself back in since there's no boss there to say, "Back to work!" but the fact that they happen isn't something to beat yourself up over.
Part of making your home feel like a workspace is making sure that you can comfortably work. It's kind of crazy how much difference a comfortable desk chair or the right lap desk can make to your attitude about working in your personal space.
Even if you can't invest extra money into your workspace, simply using a well-placed pillow and reminding yourself to sit up straight can do wonders for your comfort and your productivity. Being physically uncomfortable while working is more distracting than you think.
And as much as it is important to make your home feel like a workspace and to do what you need to do to focus, it's equally as important to actually end your workday each afternoon or evening.
It's so tempting to just answer those emails when they come in because you're still in the same space that you were when you were working, but make sure you do what you need to in order to get yourself out of work mode again at the end of the day.
I do a lot of personal writing on the side, and the silliest little thing that I do to turn off work and shift to my personal writing time at the end of a workday is to close every tab on my computer and shut it for like, a minute. Sometimes I restart it. Having a fresh, blank screen is a mental reset for me, and suddenly work is done and I can focus on my own thing.
Of course, all of these tactics are just suggestions, things to try. They might not work for you, and that's OK.
Some people need to get dressed every morning; others are perfectly fine working in PJs. Some need a desk; others can type away all day in bed. Some need specific work hours; others are happy to merge work time and personal time.
None of this is the right way to do it. You find what works for you. And like I said, it will change. You might get into a routine and find that a week later, it's not working for you anymore. These tips and tricks are there as options, things to explore, tactics to try.
Don't expect to know exactly what works for you on your first day of working remotely. But that's the beauty of it! You're truly in your own space on your own time. If you were in an office, you'd probably have to compromise some of your preferences to make others happy.
At home, though? You're completely in charge. I've found that aspect of it to be extremely helpful in discovering how I work best and implementing that without any interference whatsoever. Embrace it, and you'll be just fine. WFH FTW!
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.