How has it been, working from home?
Do you have a routine? Find it hard to focus? In a slump? Want to feel more like you’re in an office? Is your cat or dog sleeping on your keyboard?! Here’s what I find works well to simulate a real work space and keep the lines between work and home separate.
Have a dedicated work space
If you have a spare room – use it for your office. If you don’t, you can still setup a separate area in a bedroom or kitchen or basement for example. Take a walk through your house as if you had never seen it before and were thinking about buying it.
Ideally you want your office area to be away from the rest of the family so you can focus and have peace and quiet – especially for calls and video chats. Also, I highly recommend setting it up as if it was an office space. Take this opportunity to create your ultimate work space.
- Work computer
- A desk/work surface
- Good lighting (working near a window is always my favorite) Plus, with all the video meetings, you want people to be able to see you
- A spot for your morning coffee or tea ☕ <– most important
- If possible, a spot close to an outlet so you can plug in your phone or laptop if batteries are running low
Taking it a bit further (optional)
- If you use a laptop as your work computer, get a 2nd larger display (27” is ideal). You can create a dual-display setup – and once you try this, you will never want to go back to a single display situation.
- If you REALLY want to go all out, get one of those Ultra-wide displays. It’s like having 3 monitors in 1. You will be the envy of your virtual team – and your cat.
- Clean up your new office area.
- Cable-management – try and keep all the wires and cables neat. You can use twist-ties, zip ties or even elastic bands to keep the cable monster under control.
Leave your work space for lunch & breaks
It took me years to figure this one out. If I don’t physically leave my work space, then my work/home life all bleeds together and gets messy. My home office is upstairs and I take a short morning and afternoon break (I’ll go sit outside if the weather is nice, walk to the mailbox, fix myself a snack) and for lunch I always go downstairs and sit in the kitchen or living room and enjoy lunch and listen to a podcast or watch TV. Stay away from the computer (it gives your eyes a break too!).
Set times for your breaks and lunch. This will likely have to be a bit flexible depending on the day, but it’s good to have set “off” times that you can communicate to your co-workers so they know when to leave you alone (in a nice way). If you share calendars (see my previous blog post for Google Calendar as a recommendation!) you can pop those times in there so people know you are “out for lunch” – which is different from being “out TO lunch”. Look for a future post on that topic. Here’s my standard work day schedule:
- 9:00am: I’m at my desk and ready to start my day
- 10:30am: 15 min break
- 12:30pm: 45 min lunch
- 3:30pm: 15 min break
- 5:00pm: I try to wrap up my day and send out task lists to the appropriate individuals, so they are ready to go first thing in the morning.
Pets are fun – and, in my opinion, they are one of the best parts about working from home (beside the fact that you can work in sweatpants).
If you have pets that like to snuggle, but don’t want them to interrupt you… setup a little pet bed or pillow or blanket in your work space for them to snuggle on instead of sleeping on your keyboard. It’s nice to have them nearby but maybe not so great if you are trying to take notes on a call and they are sleeping on your pen. Or worse, chewing through the cables on your desk.
Working from home allows for pretty comfy clothing (For the first decade, my home office uniform was pretty much sponsored by Roots). Now, with so many clients and employees doing video chats, I would recommend dressing more appropriately so that you are ready for a video call at any given moment. I actually feel I’m at my best when I wake up and get ready as if I was going to an office – business casual of course, but a bit more put together than I would be on a weekend. It makes me feel good and I know lots of people who feel the same, so if you are feeling like you’re in a bit of a slump – try this!
It can take a little time to get used to the work from home environment, but hopefully these tips help!
AFTER HOURS: PRO TIP!
As a nice way to separate your work and home life even further… have a date night!
- Dinner and a Movie: Dress up a little bit, decorate your kitchen table, and have a special dinner (maybe takeout/delivery from a local restaurant or cook something fancy like surf and turf!) When you’re done, put on a movie from Netflix/Crave/Disney+!
- Chez Nous: Take it one step further and create your own menus for your in-house restaurant. Take turns being wait-staff. Have fun with it!
- Picnic: After work grab a blanket, some snacks from the kitchen (cheese, crackers, fruit, dried meats, chocolate, a bottle of wine etc.) and head to your backyard for a sunset picnic. Turn on some music from Spotify or Google Play, and relax!