7 Work from Home Tips from a Remote Worker
Working from home has become the new normal in today’s current landscape. For some of us, this is nothing new. For others, it’s surprising how different working from home actually is.
It’s a challenge. I get it. And it’s also not for everyone.
I’ve been working remotely for Evenbound for about four years now, full time for a little over a year and a half. And let me tell you, there’s a big ole learning curve.
Many people say, “Oh, you work from home! How do I get into that? It must be so great!”
And really, it is. I’m an introvert and a writer, so working from home is genuinely what I need to get a majority of my work done. But it’s not always the easy breezy life that a lot of people make it out to be.
(Props to Medium for this very accurate meme, and their awesome post on the realities of working from home.)
If you’re struggling a bit with the recent transition to work entirely from home, 100% of the time, I got you. And I’m here to offer some of the work from home tips that have worked for me. Seven, to be exact:
#1 Create a Dedicated Work From Home Space
This is one of the few work from home “rules” I actually subscribe to.
It’s important to create a workspace in your home for a couple of reasons.
The one you’ll hear most often is that having a dedicated “work” space helps you turn on your “work” brain.
That’s definitely true, but it’s also important to have a work space so that your brain knows how to turn off when your day is over.
One of the toughest transitions you’ll face working from home is that your work is literally at your home. You’re always around it, and it’s always there. Creating a physical space where work happens helps your brain distinguish between that “on” time and the “off” time.
#2 Build a Routine that Works for You
I am not here to tell anyone how they work best. You know what your best times of the day are, and you know what you have to get done. Set up a routine that helps you work most effectively.
Identify Your Most Productive Hours
Everyone has a most productive part of the day.
For me, this is generally the morning, but after I’ve made time for a quality, sit-down breakfast and a half-hour of reading.
That time to wake up, read some quality content that has absolutely nothing to do with work, and guzzle down a (read: three) cup(s) of coffee, gets me in the right mindset to get my work done.
Then, I tackle my hardest, most involved tasks in the morning, because that’s when my brain is at its best.
This might not be your routine. You might be a night owl, or find a certain groove after lunch. Whatever it is, figure out when you’re most productive, and try to schedule your routine around those hours.
Keep Your Coworker’s Hours in Mind, Too
Building a productive routine means incorporating the rest of your team’s schedule, too. It’s easy for me to say, “My most productive time is around 7am, so I’ll just work from 7am to 3pm, and be done for the day.”
But if my coworkers are working until 5pm, and need things from me, I’m going to be a) gone or b) mentally fried.
None of us exist in a vacuum. Most of us are working with other team members, who need things from us or who need to meet with us. You want to build a routine that helps you be your most productive, but you can’t do it at the expense of teamwork.
Make sure you’re building a routine that makes space for the rest of your team, and you’ll be more likely to stick to it.
#3 Don’t Dress for Work (Or Do, I Guess)
“Get dressed for work” is my number one most despised work from home tip on the face of the planet.
I do best when I get straight to work. Worrying about what outfit to put together only takes time out of my most productive hours, and I’ve never found that I work better in an uncomfortable outfit vs. my pajamas.
If you find that getting dressed does make a big difference for you mentally, that’s awesome.
I’m just putting this one out there for everyone else like me who feels like getting dressed to work in front of a computer and see no one is a lot of work.
I think for most of us, preparing for the day is what really matters. And this goes back to setting up a routine that works for you.
Taking the time to make and eat breakfast or taking a shower can do as much to shift your mentality into work mode as getting dressed can. So figure out what your “turn my brain on” switch is, and stick with that. Maybe it’s getting dressed, maybe it’s not.
#4 Take Breaks, When Breaks Work For You
Many other work from home blogs have touted the importance of taking breaks, and taking full, complete breaks.
I say, do what works for you.
Personally, I have a tough time getting back into a groove after a full lunch break. If I get into another project, a book, or a TV show on a lunch break, I come back feeling sluggish and not engaged. I do my best when I take quick 5-10 minute breaks to make tea, brew coffee, check the mail, and just eat my lunch.
Then, when I’m done with work, I’m straight up done. I can let my brain go off and do what it wants.
Again, this is what works for me. Some people might do better with one solid hour-long lunch break, or a couple of half-hour pauses for different things.
I think it largely depends on your job. I write best when I have long, consecutive hours of uninterrupted time to write.
If you’re constantly slammed with emails, phone calls, and meetings, an hour long break might be just what you need to decompress and come back to work relaxed.
Find what works best for you, and stick to it.
#5 Over Communicate
This is a weird time for everyone. There’s a lot of grief, there’s a lot of uncertainty, and there’s just a lot going on.
One of the best work from home tips I can offer to make sure that you and your coworkers are all getting as much done as you can is to over communicate.
Over communicate with your coworkers and your clients alike.
If you can schedule a quick video call or jump on the phone with teammates, even better.
It’s easy to lose sight of the team goals when you’re working from home, alone. You’re in isolation, trying to slog through your list of things by yourself.
Connecting with your teammates can help you feel less isolated, and it has the added benefit of ensuring nothing falls through the cracks.
Here at Evenbound, we use Slack religiously, and it’s been instrumental as our entire team shifted to remote work during this crisis.
Features like Slack calling, video, and screensharing are super useful, making it easy to get a point across without having to send a million emails.
Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call someone.
As we all get more used to working at home, alone, it can feel a little weird (okay, sometimes scary) to talk to a person on a phone.
But you can actually get a whole lot more done in a five minute call than you could in a messy, complicated email chain.
#6 Shut the Door
When you’re done with work, shut the door.
You have set up a separate work space, haven’t you?
Whether it’s a guest room, an office, or a closet, flip your laptop closed, physically shut the door, and walk out.
Like I mentioned in Step #1, one of the toughest parts of transitioning to working from home is that your work is always there. If you’re not careful, it can bleed into every part of your life, which ultimately makes you less productive.
If you’re working constantly, you’re going to burn out. It's important to set boundaries on your routine so your brain can have a chance to recharge before you come back the next day. Click To Tweet
I like to add onto the “Shut the Door” policy with another activity that really signals to my brain that it’s the end of the day. I might turn on a workout video, take the dog for a walk, or start cooking dinner, just to add another level of separation between me and my computer.
Because, honestly, it’s so easy to get sucked back into “oh, just one more thing.”
The better you are at creating and establishing boundaries for your off times, the more productive you’re likely to be in your on times.
#7 Give Yourself Some Grace
Working from home is not as easy and delightful as some will have you believe.
Yes, it is pretty cool, and yeah the commute is exceptional.
But it’s not all sunshine and roses, especially now, when most of us can’t really leave our homes when the work day is done.
One of the most important things to remember when you start working from home is to give yourself some grace.
Not every day is going to be perfect. Some days you might take an actual lunch break, only to find that you’re totally worthless afterwards.
Remember that you’re doing your best, and that tomorrow’s another day. And remember that you’re still probably working more now than you were in the office. Without any drive time or water cooler talk, you’re likely still coming out ahead, even on your least productive days.
Working from home is a big transition, and no one is perfect at anything the first time. Just observe the areas where you’re struggling, and work to make a plan to improve tomorrow.
Working from home has its challenges, but the team here at Evenbound is grateful to have this ability. If we weren’t able to work from home, we wouldn’t be doing business. While we’re all adjusting, we’re thankful for our health and the opportunity to serve our clients from just about anywhere.
If you’ve got questions about working from home, marketing from home, or anything else, just let us know. We’re here to help.