Hi all, Kori here! We’re all in some sort of transition right now, and one of the biggest changes for most is bringing work home indefinitely.
I’ve been working from home full-time for about 7 years now. I was already working from home 1 or 2 days each week, so the concept wasn’t completely foreign to me. But one day the company suddenly needed to make room in my building for a slew of new hires and I was swept out into permanent work from home status without any notice.
As I carried a box of office supplies and desk photos out to my car that evening, I reveled in the idea of not sitting in SoCal traffic again (yay!), but beyond that, I really had no idea just how significant such a change would be. The truth is, the joy of skipping a long commute wasn’t enough to ward off an onslaught of depression. It took me about 3 full months of lethargy, a complete lack of motivation, and frankly, a lot of weight gain, before I finally figured out what was missing and adjusted.
So, here, I’m sharing my tried and true methods for making it work when you’re working from home.
Have a dedicated workspace
Sitting on the couch with a laptop or an iPad in your lap might work for a few days or every now and then, but it’s not a good long-term solution. Working in an office, there’s a tangible separation between your work life and your home life. But those lines are all too easy to blur when you work from home. So, to maintain some semblance of separation, create a dedicated space to do your work in.
If you have a desk, use it! If not, set up your dining table. If you can, keep it out of the bedroom though, so your bedroom can be your sanctuary for relaxation and rest…a place where work can be out of sight, out of mind. And, if it’s possible, make it a space near a window where you can open the blinds and let the sunshine in each day.
Get ready for the day, every day
The question I get the most about working from home is about how great it must be able to work in my pajamas every day. Well, I’m going to let you in a little secret: I don’t.
The biggest lesson I learned when I transitioned to working from home full-time is how deeply important it is to get out of my pajamas every day. Even if it’s just to put on different pajamas, it’s important to “get dressed” every morning. It also helps to make my bed every day (and even more so if your workspace has to be in the bedroom).
The days I stay in my pajamas, or neglect to make my bed, are the days I feel like I never got out of bed, and consequently, all I want to do is go back there. I move slower throughout the day and I Iack motivation and inspiration. The easiest way to inject a shot of energy into the day is to get ready every morning before I start the workday. It’s become so Pavlovian that at this point, it applies to my weekends as well, and makes all the difference between binging Netflix vs. reorganizing a closet or going for a long walk.
Maintain your normal meal routine
You’re home all day now, with a fully-stocked refrigerator. One thing you may notice is the temptation to eat much more frequently. Don’t. Do. It.
Try to keep your normal eating schedule. What do you normally eat in the morning before running out to the car to head off to work? Eat that, at that usual time, for breakfast. What time do you normally do you take your lunch hour at the office? Stick with that time. If you don’t normally snack between, don’t do it at home either.
Schedule virtual coffee dates with teammates ️
Humans are very social creatures, so one thing you may find yourself missing most is the interaction with your co-workers. Schedule some time to maintain those interactions you miss.
As a project manager, I find I often bond closely with some of the key players on the project team, and I miss them later, when the project has closed and we’ve all moved onto new initiatives.
So, often I’ll schedule a quick 30 minutes “touchbase” every couple of weeks to chat. Sometimes we have actual work to talk about – some update on the final outcome of the project we worked on together, or the details on a new project one of us are working on…but often, it’s just a friendly chat to catch up with each other and laugh. It’s immensely helpful on a regular day, and now even more so.
Go outside at least once every single day
This is crucial – go outside every single day. Whether it’s just for a moment to check the mailbox or a quick walk around the block, get out of the house, and preferably into the sun, for a at least a few minutes every day. It will do wonders for your spirit, your attention span, and your creativity.
Move around as much as you can
You’re probably sitting a lot more now that you’re working from home. When you’re work at the office, you’re in and out of the car, walking across a parking lot. You’re getting up to grab a coffee from the breakroom or something off the printer. The restroom may be quite far from your desk. Maybe you skip the elevator and take the stairs to the conference room. You’re moving much more.
Get up. Walk around. Stretch. Move your body throughout the day. Set a reminder on your calendar to take a walk at breaktime. Or use a fitness tracker to set hourly alarms to remind yourself to get up and walk around a bit.
One of my favorite multi-tasking strategies – if I’m on a meeting where I’m mainly just listening and I know I won’t be required to speak much, I walk around my house with a feather duster, seeking and destroying cob webs and dust bunnies throughout. Or I set the phone down in a central area on speaker and sweep the floor…or unload the dishwasher…you get the idea. The chores are small and mindless so I can still pay attention to the business at hand, but I’m also moving my body and I’m keeping my home tidy. It’s a win-win-win.
Add items to your home desk that bring you joy
One of my favorite additions to my home has been houseplants. As an avid traveler, I’ve avoided pets and plants for, well basically, my entire adult life. But the extra time at home lately inspired me to pick up some succulents and a few snake plants – and I am in love! They’re such a nice visual and the touch of nature just feels good. Find something to sit on your desk that will make you feel happy…whether it’s a plant, a family photo, an awesome art piece, or anything else you can think of. Create a personal sanctuary you’ll enjoy spending the day in.
All right – you’ve got this! I hope you’re all staying safe at home, positive and most of all healthy and well!
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