Tips for Working From Home

Hello from my house! I am on day three of mandated work from home because of COVID-19. I know I'm not the only one- it seems like every day a new friend in cities across the country are also being told to stay home for the foreseeable future. We're in unprecedented times with scary and conflicting news coming out every day. I'm trying to stay calm about it and finding that educating myself on the facts (instead of reading into the media hysteria) is helping a lot! 

Back to working from home- while this can seem like a nice break from the office for those of us lucky enough to be able to do our jobs remotely, it can start to get difficult to concentrate or have the same productivity as being in the office. So, I thought I would share some tips on what's worked for me! I generally work remotely once a week on a normal schedule, so these are things that I've come up with to stay on task. I hope it helps, and I hope all of you (and your families) are staying healthy and safe.

Write down goals at the beginning of the day

I started to do this last year as soon as I got to work, and I think it's even more vital when you're away from the office. Starting off with a list of everything I have to get done for the day helps me focus my attention and also stay productive. I also like to divide up the list by my meeting times to help focus even more on getting things done in a timely manner, and not putting off everything until the afternoon. One more bonus- I like to write down a positive quote so that every time I look at my list I'm reminded of a happy thought!

Make a work station

In my house, I only have two bedrooms and a joint kitchen/dining area, so I don't have an office for myself. The temptation is always there to work from my bed or to plop down on the couch, but before long I find myself getting distracted or with a crick in my neck. Having a space to actually work and sit in a normal chair makes a HUGE difference, so I made it a point to have a little desk in my second bedroom or even work at my table in the kitchen. It's nothing fancy and I don't have 3 monitors like at work, but it's better than sitting on the couch.

Use the Pomodoro Technique 

If you haven't heard of this technique, prepare for your mind to be blown. This is a time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo, where you focus on work for a set amount of time (called a "pomodoro") and then take a short break. After four pomodoros, you get a longer break! I love this method, because telling myself to focus on a task for 25 minutes (the traditional pomodoro) always makes me more productive and helps me finish something faster. Plus, having breaks along the way keeps me alert and inspired to keep working! Nothing is worse than being heads-down on a problem and realizing it's three hours later and you haven't really accomplished anything!

Set reminders to drink water

I don't know about you, but I find it easy to remember to drink water at work (I keep my bottle on my desk and refill it when I get up for a meeting or go to the bathroom) but rarely remember at home. So, when I'm working at home I make sure to keep a bottle at my work station, and set timers throughout the day to remind myself to finish the bottle and refill. Staying hydrated helps me avoid headaches and mindlessly snacking on food, plus I feel better for my workout later in the day!

Get outside at lunchtime

It can be really tempting to stay inside at lunch, watch a TV show, or just get some chores done (or just keep working).  But- I think it's really important to get outside, even if it's for a few minutes. The burst of fresh air, sunshine (hopefully) and some movement really helps me get through the rest of the day. Plus, I usually take Selma with me so she's getting benefits of a walk too! Some days this is literally only five minutes, but other times I can get a full hour to run or go for a hike. 

Make coffee dates with friends

For some people like me, the hardest part of working from home is missing the connection with other people. I identify as an extrovert who gets energy from interacting with others, so when I work alone and aren't around others, I find myself shutting down and losing momentum. To help this, I try to get out of the house to work from a coffee shop or other place with wifi. Luckily for me, I also have friends that work remotely full time, so I try to work around their schedule to work together! This is of course not a daily solution (that's a lot of money for coffee, plus it can get distracting!) but I find myself feeling more productive after having these coffee dates. While it might not be a great idea to be in a public space right now, you could also go on a walk with a friend or even work from the same house together.

Put on relaxing music

My next tip works both for me and for Selma! For me- I'm used to either hearing coworkers all around me working, or listening to music at work. So, working from home I like to turn on some sort of relaxing music channel to give me some background noise. Having a soothing music channel on can help relieve stress and relax your mind, and I definitely feel a difference! I like to tell my Amazon Echo to play "relaxing massage music", but any kind of calming station works.  The second part of this tip is that this particular music helps to relax Selma as well! If I stay home, she thinks that means we can play all day. For some reason, as soon as the music starts to play she immediately lays down and will sleep for hours. I don't know about the pet psychology there, but it seems to do the trick so I can focus on work and not keeping her entertained.

Make plans for after work

My last stumbling block when it comes to working from home is that work is always with you, so it can be hard to shut off at the end of the day. In the office, I have to catch a bus to go home so there's opportunities to hang up for the day. But, at home it can be tempting to just stay logged on and get more done! The other tips I mentioned help with keeping focused so you do get everything done, but I also like to make plans for after work to absolutely prevent me from staying on for too long. This helps to focus my time for actual business hours, and also keep an eye on the clock so I'm not working into the 6:00 hour without realizing it!

What are your tips for working from home?
How has the pandemic affected you so far?


  1. Thank you for those tips. I am working from home for the first time and it's been a bit of an adjustment, but it's good to "make a plan", I guess.


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