During this unprecedented time, more people are working from home than ever before. For some of us, this change has come quite suddenly, and it can be an unfamiliar challenge to separate home from work. We’ve enlisted the help of Graphic Designer Rachel Rogge, who has worked from home at DOWL for nearly three years, to pass along some tips she has found helpful to stay productive and sane when your home is also your place of work.
We hope these tips can help you as well!
1. Have a Dedicated “Office” Space
When you are accustomed to going to an office every day, your brain automatically switches from home to work. When home and work suddenly overlap, transitioning between the two can be a challenge. Find a room or corner in the house where you can create some separation from normal home life. Choose an area that is relatively quiet, well lit, and has a chair that you feel comfortable using throughout your work hours.
2. Keep a Routine
Start your day as you would as if you were going to the office. It might be tempting to go to work in your PJs, but even something as simple as getting dressed in the morning can put you in a better mood and spur a more productive day. Yes, this includes putting on real pants, not just getting half-dressed so you look put together on a video call! Get up, get dressed, get your breakfast, and head to the “office.”
3. Set Expectations
With schools and childcare facilities closed, you may suddenly be working at home full time with the kids around. Explain to your family what your working from home looks like and set boundaries. For example, when the door to your “office” is shut, they must knock before entering. Consider also creating a sign to let them know when you are not to be disturbed.
Maybe your spouse, other family members, or roommates are also working in your residence. Create separate workspaces and/or working hours, if possible, to avoid distracting each other. Schedule and take turns with childcare/household duties to minimize burnout.
4. Keep Clearly Defined Working Hours
Keeping consistent work hours will help you transition between work and home. It also sets expectations with family and coworkers for when you will be “in the office.”
5. Schedule Short Breaks
Schedule three to five minutes every hour to stretch, walk around, and give your eyes a break from the computer screen. Movement will reduce strain on your body and help you refocus on the task at hand.
6. Listen to Music
Turn on the radio or stream your favorite music. Listening to music can improve your efficiency and happiness while working and can help drown out distracting noises. If you find it hard to concentrate when listening to music with lyrics, consider listening to instrumental music instead.
7. Stay Connected
As social creatures, we are hardwired to interact with others to some degree or another. In a time of “social distancing,” it is very important to close the gap as much as possible to maintain connection, reduce anxiety, and take care of each other. Check in with your team members on a regular basis. Reach out to a coworker to see how they are doing. Consider an old-fashioned phone call or Skype chat. Outside of work hours, get creative with digital media to stay connected with friends, family, and social groups.
8. Take Time to Decompress
Without a commute, you might be missing that crucial 15 to 20 minutes in between leaving the office and arriving home. Take some time after your workday to decompress and leave work behind so you can rejoin your regular life without the burden of work tension or stress.