Every day, more and more cases of coronavirus are confirmed both in the U.S. and around the world, and with each case, companies are encouraging employees to “flatten the curve” by working from home. If this is completely foreign to you, welcome to the WFH club! As a writer, I’ve been working from home way before the pandemic, and while I’m not a certified expert, there’s plenty I’ve learned the hard way.
It’s difficult to get thrown into a completely different way of life, and I’m sure you have questions. How is one expected to be productive from their couch? Is it really possible to not go stir crazy after days of staying home? What’s the point of changing out of pajamas ever? Lucky for you, I’m here to help you adjust with seven simple tips that will go a long way.
For starters, if you begin work at 9AM, don’t set your alarm for 8:55. Give yourself enough time to not only wake up but also go through your morning routine, or at least a condensed version of it. If you’re a morning showerer, take a shower. And if you aren’t, wash your face, brush your teeth, apply skincare, and maybe even put on some minimal makeup. Try swapping out a full face for some CC cream and lip gloss to help you feel ready to take on the day.
Have your preferred breakfast and drink of choice—coffee, matcha, maybe a smoothie. And if your morning routine entails, do a quick meditation, at-home workout, journaling, or anything else that helps you start the day on the right foot. Make sure you’re awake, fresh, and ready to conquer the day before starting work.
This is important! Even if you’re just changing from pajamas to loungewear or athleisure, do it. No one expects you to put on jeans or your favorite outfit just to stay home, but make sure you’re in something other than what you slept in. When working from home, the focus isn’t about looking good or professional, it’s about wearing the pieces that make you feel motivated, confident, and of course, comfortable. Do you focus better with your hair up? Put it up. Are glasses more comfortable than contacts when staring at a computer? Stick to glasses. There’s enough stress induced by the news at the moment, so there’s no need to worry about your work from home style.
When working from home, it’s exponentially more difficult to create boundaries between work and play. You can easily find yourself checking your email at 9PM or getting distracted with personal chores during work hours. Having a set space for work, whether it’s an actual home office or your makeshift kitchen table-turned-office desk, goes a long way. Set a designated space for work and fill it with anything and everything that will help you focus—a water bottle, an energizing candle or incense, a plant, your favorite lip balm to keep on hand, some sunlight—whatever works for you. Working from bed may seem appealing, but will it be the most productive? Nope.
Create a to-do list, update your calendar, and stay organized the way you normally would in the office. Make a list of tasks you need to accomplish each day and set deadlines for yourself. A little accountability goes a long way!
To be as productive as possible, make sure you take breaks. Take a lunch, a 15-minute break for a walk, a quick chore, social media scrolling, or whatever it is you need to come back and be more focused. If you’re new to the WFH club, you may have to start by timing your breaks to stick to schedule, but you’ll adjust in no time. Create a clear distinction between work time and break time—and when it’s time, physically leave the office.
While keeping work and play separate is essential, there’s no reason you can’t multitask when possible. No video meetings? Put on your favorite face mask or eye treatment or throw your dirty clothes in the washer, and kill two (or three) birds with one stone. Zero commute time isn’t the only perk that comes with working from home!
Check in with your colleagues. Let’s be honest, our work friends get us through Mon-Fri. Sure, you can’t just swing by their desk for a quick hello at the moment, but you can do it virtually via Slack, email, phone or even FaceTime. Whether it’s for a work-related task or just a quick laugh, stay connected and know that we’re all in this together. Working in isolation can get lonely, so chat with your work friends as you normally would throughout the day.
When the workday is over, leave your workspace and enjoy the rest of your day! Spend time with your quaran-team, whether that’s your family members, significant other, roommate, pets or plants. Work out, knock out some chores, and remember to continue sticking to your normal routine. Just because you may not be wearing a full face of makeup doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still wash your face and end the day with your nighttime skincare routine. And remember, self-care is more important than ever right now. Do the things that make you feel good—one of my favorite rituals is a warm bath to de-stress. We’re all adjusting, but let’s try to live as normally as possible, and take care of ourselves and each other.
Illustrations by Christina Fung