While many of your are newly working from home, I’ve been been doing it full time for a little while now, and I though I’d share some of my tips and some of the bumps I’ve hit along the way. So starting at the beginning of my work day we run into what was the first bump I ran into which is jsut getting up in the morning. My first instinct was that I’d get up whenever I was ready and not be beholden to the tyranny of an alerm clock again. What happen was that I had trouble ever getting started with my day(disclaimer: I’ve always been and early riser, so it’s not like I was starting work at noon), so I went back to an alarm clock for a consistent start time, but since I didn’t have to factor in traffic, I was still able to give myself a little more time to sleep and most of the time I’m awake before my alarm anyway. So first tip is to have a definite start time, and the paired piece of advice for that is to also have a set end time. Just as no definite start time can make it difficult to start your work day, no definite end time can make it difficult to end it. While remote work can offer the benefit of being able to take care of other things into your life during the work day, it’s important not to integrate your work and personal life to the point that they’re inseperable.
Next tip is rememeber to take actual breaks. When you’re working from home, you’re may already feel comfortable where you are, so it may not feel as natural to step away from your desk as it would if you work working at the office. Maybe it’s taking a walk around the block or just sitting on the couch for a few minutes. Related to this is try to make your “work” space differnt from you “relax” space if possible. Obviously not everyone can have a separate home office, especially if you’re only doing this temporarily, but try not to work from the same place you’ll be spending a large portion of your non-work time. If you’re going to spend your non-work time on the couch binging Netflix, got work at the kitchen table instead of the couch. I’ve made this mistake and still working to rectify it. A big hobby of mine is painting wargaming and tabletop game miniatures, and I do that at the same desk I work at. So now I don’t really want to continue sitting at the same desk after work. Now when I know I want to do some hobbying after work, I’ll go work across the room at the my table, or I’ll hobby from the table after work instead. Of course this also works the opposite direction where you want to do whatever other thing you normally do in that space when you want to work. Maybe you’re working from the couch, but decide to turn on some Netflix just for some background noise and before you know it you’re watching a Gilmore Girls marathon and ignoring your work and proving right all those middle managers who say remote work doesn’t work if they can’t watch over your shoulder.
My final tip is to communicate with any spouse, partner, kids, roommate or anyone else who will be home with you as you work that you’re working and set some boundaries. This probably more relevant now than in normal work from home circumstances as kids and those who can’t work from home will be at home and not necessaily occupied through out the day. Obviously under these extraordinay circumstances, many of you will be taking care of children while working, but if you’ve got older kids or someone else at home who can take care of the smaller kids, it can be very helpful to set expectations before hand. My wife and I didn’t have that conversation when I started working from home(in the pre- coronavirus) world, so there’d be times I’d find myself at home with our three year old while she went shopping. While being able to see my daughter (and other other two kids while they’re not at school) is perk of working from home, it’s not easy to focus on work while also being the full time care taker. If you’re in position where you’re not sole care giver in this time, just set out some basic ground rules, like close door means don’t bother mom or dad.
All in all, a lot of this is pretty common sense stuff, but while working from home can afford a lot of extra flexibility over working from the office, it’s important to avoid the temptation of letting things get too flexible.