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With the current COVID-19 situation happening, many of you are having to work from home for the first time in your careers.
I’ve been working at home for over two decades, and in ways it’s a blessing. In other ways, it can be a curse.
There are all sorts of advice columns about how to make working at home work for you. Those of us that are home-based workers have our own tips for working at home.
In the video above, I discuss a handful of tips for working remotely that have done wonders for my productivity (and sanity!) over the years.
Give the video a watch and see what I do to make the most of a home-based career. You can also see my workspace, which has evolved a lot over the years.
Below, I list each tip with a brief discussion, but for more detail, be sure to check out the video above!
Tips for Working at Home: Prep Meals in Advance
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The last thing I want to do on my lunch break is spend an hour preparing a healthy meal. That’s why I meal prep on Sundays and again on Wednesday nights.
Having ready-made food means I can spend my lunch break unplugging for a bit. Plus, I’m less tempted to eat something quick and unhealthy. Just cook up some food, store it in the fridge, and you’re good to go!
I know this isn’t one of your typical working at home tips for success, but it lays the foundation for having a successful career at home.
Tips for Working at Home: Get an Early Start
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The longer you lay in bed pressing the snooze button, the longer you have to get stressed out about everything you need to get done.
I’m an early riser, so getting an early start is no problem for me. But if you like to sleep in, try not to think of working from home as a vacation. Instead, start your day like you usually do, get up, get going, and get to work.
Tips for Working at Home: Keep the Same Schedule
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Many of us are creatures of habit and like to have consistent schedules. If you’re suddenly working from home, one of the best things you can do is try to maintain your schedule as close to what it was when you worked in an office.
Get up at the same time, each lunch at the same time, and quit at the same time at the end of the day.
If working from home freaks you out a little bit, having a familiar schedule can be calming and comforting. It’s also a fantastic way of adjusting to working from home.
Tips for Working at Home: Stay in Touch With Colleagues
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One of the downsides of working at home is you might feel a bit socially isolated. This is especially true right now with social distancing protocols in place to combat the spread of COVID-19.
But we have all sorts of technologies that allow us to conduct business remotely and stay in touch with our colleagues and clients.
Use email, chat, Skype, FaceTime...whatever medium works best for you to keep in touch. A quick video chat with a client instead of an email could give you the social boost you need to make it through the rest of the day.
Most computers and laptops have built-in cameras, but if yours doesn’t, pick up an inexpensive webcam so you can video conference to your heart’s content.
Tips for Working at Home: Have a Dedicated Workspace
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In your office, you likely had a desk and a desk chair and a door you could close to shut out the world. Try to replicate that as best you can at home.
Having a dedicated workspace allows your brain to get into work mode much easier. It also helps define where your spouse, kids, friends, or roommate can and cannot go while you’re working.
You don’t necessarily need to set up shop in the basement or the garage to get away from everyone in the house, either. Just make sure you have a space all to your own where you can get stuff done.
Tips for Working at Home: Check Your Bandwidth
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It’s crazy how quickly bandwidth can be taken up…
I’m one of those people that has 50 browser tabs open. You might stream music on your Amazon Echo while you work. Your kids might be playing games on their iPads. All of these things can create a bandwidth logjam.
If your browser is running slow or your video conference call is choppy, cut out the fluff. Disconnect your smart speaker. Ask your spouse to quick binge-watching Netflix. Call your internet provider and see if you can boost your bandwidth.
Whatever you do, be sure you have the technology in place to be able to work from home.
Tips for Working at Home: Make Your Workspace as Comfortable as Possible
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If you’re like me, you might find it hard to work when you’re slumped over on the couch or sitting on an uncomfortable barstool at the kitchen counter.
I’m not saying you need to go out and spend thousands of dollars on a desk and chair, but trust me - you get your money’s worth if you opt for high-quality furniture. This is one of the best home office tips I can offer!
Tips for Working at Home: Keep Distractions at a Minimum
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I’m easily distracted, so I have to work in a sort of cocoon that protects me from straying off task.
Whether it’s using a white noise machine to wash out the sound of street noise, putting your phone on silent to prevent alerts from bothering you, or logging out of social media sites on your computer to prevent wandering eyes, do what you need to do to stay on task.
If you have friends, family, or roommates at home with you, set boundaries and remind them that even though you’re home, you’re still at work and need to be left alone.
Tips for Working at Home: Manage Expectations and Communicate
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My work can be done at home, no problem. But you might be transitioning to a home-based position that isn’t a great fit for working at home.
It’s important to manage expectations of what can and can’t be done with your bosses or clients. Open, honest communication will go a long way in helping them understand what’s possible in this new reality.
Tips for Working at Home: Take Breaks
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As important as it is to manage distractions, it’s equally as important to take frequent breaks.
If you don’t give your mind and body and eyes a rest, you’ll find that fatigue quickly takes over.
With that in mind, take a quick walk around the backyard. Get some sun and fresh air. Play fetch with the dog for a few minutes.
Whatever you do, don’t spend your breaks sitting at your desk watching YouTube videos. Get out of your work space and away from screens to clear your head and re-energize. Do this for five minutes each hour, and you’ll find that you feel much better!
Tips for Working at Home: Find Ways to Exercise
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Over the course of the workday, find ways that you can get some exercise - any kind of exercise.
Walking, as I mentioned above, is a great thing to do when you take breaks. I especially like a quick, brisk walk in the middle of the afternoon because that’s when I really start to feel sluggish.
You’d be surprised what a five-minute walk can do for your body and your state of mind. Throw in some stretching, some yoga, a few pushups and so forth, and you have lots of different ways to easily get the blood flowing.
Like I said earlier, these are tips that I use each and every day as I work from home. I hope you can use these tips for working at home to make the most of your situation!