Making Remote Work, Work: Tips for Working From Home

Working from home- it's something more people than probably ever before are doing now. For some, it's nothing new. Maybe they've always run their business from home. Maybe their company has allowed their employees to work remotely some, or all, of the time. But for many people, working from home is just another curveball thrown their way by COVID-19.


If it's something you're having a hard time getting used to, you're not alone. Some people thrive in their home environment right away, but others miss the office. If you're in the group that didn't embrace remote work with open arms, I've got some tips that might help you make the transition more smoothly.


 

Tip number one- choose a room, or at least a good location, for your workspace:


Ideally, you'll have a lavish home office where you can set up everything according to your every need and want. It'll be comfortable and quiet, and you'll spend your day undisturbed. This is not likely your reality, however. It certainly is not mine!


But even if you can't have that plushy office, you can still set up a cozy workspace. Try to find somewhere that you'll get at least some peace, especially if you're easily distracted. Even if it's just a corner of your living room away from the television and other distractions, it's a start. You can even try setting up some screens or partitions around your space. They're easy to set up and move as you need or want.


If you're fortunate enough to have at least a small room to dedicate to your office, you'll probably still want to keep distractions to a minimum. Try to keep the door closed to minimize noise and traffic through your space when possible.


Tip number two- get organized:


Nothing is quite as frustrating as not being able to find the things you need for work when you need them. Organization means something different to everyone, but it's a good idea to come up with a system that works for you. For me, that means a jar on my desk with pens and pencils, a basket on the desk where my planner and important papers sit, and shelves to store other things on.


My office doubles as my craft room, so it's important that everything has its place. If you often reference files for your work, make sure you've got a well-organized filing cabinet in your space. Do you reference many books throughout the day? Keep a bookshelf close by, and keep it organized in a manner that makes it easy to find what you're looking for. Have a spot for extra office supplies, like printer paper and ink, nearby that you can get to in a hurry when needed.


In a small space, shelving, baskets, and bins can be your best friend! They contain the clutter and keep it from taking over. Some people (myself included) can't focus on their work when they're surrounded by clutter. My mind wanders to the mess and then I can't accomplish anything till I've cleaned it up. If this sounds like you- baskets, baskets, baskets!


Tip number three- create a pleasing environment:


I am lucky enough to have a room that I can dedicate solely to my work and crafts. Since I spend a good bit of time in there, it's important to me that I enjoy the space. Wall color and decor go a long way in this department. If you like the room, you'll be more likely to spend time in there and focus on what you need to do.


Pick a color for your walls that isn't too busy or distracting. My walls are pale lavender. The room's color is leftover from its days as our oldest daughter's room, but I have found that I quite like it, so I left it alone. Pick a color that soothes you and you'll enjoy being in the room.


Wall decor can help bring a space together, too. I've got some family pictures on my walls. My next addition will be some framed quilt blocks to reflect my personal interests. Many people like to hang motivational pictures such as quotes on their walls.


If you've got a green thumb, houseplants can really lend a cheery factor to your space. I've got quite a few plants on a table in my office, and I love having them there. It's sort of like bringing a little bit of the outside in. When flowers are blooming in the yard, I try to keep a bouquet in a vase on my desk for some added cheer.


Light, light, light! Nothing kills my productivity (or puts me right on to sleep) more than a dark space. I need light- preferably natural light. Fortunately, my room has an east-facing window that allows a lot of sunlight to stream in and bounce off the soft purple walls. Instead of draperies, I chose a sheer window scarf and mini blinds that I can easily open to let that refreshing light in.


Tip number 4- set up a schedule whenever possible:


I'm gonna go ahead and admit that I'm not the best at this one. For some people that are working remotely through a company, this may be an everyday thing for you. Your hours may still be your regular hours, just from home. In that case, this aspect isn't tricky for you.


For those of us who work on our own hours, finding a routine may be difficult. I can really only dedicate evenings and nights during the week to my work since I'm teaching my kids all day. Weekends tend to be more flexible. I am usually pretty good at getting things done even without a rigid schedule, but sometimes I slack.


A good way to approach work might be to tell yourself that you will work for a set period of time- 9 am to 11 am- then take an hour break for lunch and a little downtime. Then you'll resume working from noon to 2 pm, then take a ten-minute break to stretch your legs. Then finish off your day till 4:00 or 5:00, and then make time to have dinner and relax.

You might also try The Pomodoro Technique. I don't have much experience with this method, but many people swear by it. Using a Pomodoro (tomato) timer, this technique breaks up your work. You set the timer for 25 minutes, work for that time period, then take a short break. After four "pomodoros," you earn a longer break. Give it a shot- what have you got to lose?




Tip number five- cut yourself some slack:


One thing that is so important to realize is that you're going to have "off days." You know the ones- where you get to the end and realize you've accomplished diddly squat. That's okay. Let's not make it a habit, but it happens to the best of us. Getting upset about it and beating yourself up will only compound your stress.


When you have a less-than-productive day, cut your losses and promise yourself that you'll get back at it tomorrow. Give it your best the next day and things will work out.


You are far from the only one dealing with the anxiety of working from home in 2020. Keep telling yourself that. Remind yourself that it's okay to have bad days, that we're all having them. You won't feel so alone.


 

2020 has been nothing short of a nightmare for many people. It has changed our lives in many ways- some we probably never thought of. We can't do much about a lot of it, but we can control our home life.


If you're working from home and struggling to maintain order, hopefully these tips will help. Find a spot, get organized and cozy, and remember to breathe!


What tips do you have to share? I'd love to hear them!


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