Working from home? Check out my best practices and top tips for WFH success.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
I’ve been working from home in some capacity for much of my career. From my days as a freelance writer, carving out time and space to work was imperative. Then, in 2012, I went full-time on my own, working from an extra bedroom in our home.
Here are some of my best practices for working from home.
1. Don’t turn on the TV. Just don’t.
I like to tell this story about a time, long ago when I got laid off from a job.
The company-wide news broke on a Friday morning, and my coworkers convinced me to party with them one last time at Garrason’s that night.
On Monday, with nothing else really to do, I woke up, fed my cats, and turned on the TV.
Suddenly, soap operas were on. Where had my day gone?!
That was a quick lesson, and I resolved to get up early and hop on the computer right away to job hunt and write.
The habit stuck with me, and it is my number one tip for working from home. It also made it easier to manage freelance work in the early hours (admittedly, I’m a morning person) when I did finally find full-time employment again.
2. Carve out some space to work.
I’m lucky to have the room for a full home office, but even if you don’t, pull together some supplies that make it easier for you to get into the groove.
Top tips: Grab your favorite reusable water bottle (or even a pretty pitcher you don’t usually use), a small snack bowl (instead of bringing in a whole bag of something), a notebook and pen or pencil, a portable speaker, charging cords.
When I’m working from the couch or bed I also like to use a lap desk. It’s old school but I find it to be helpful. Here’s one I like from Amazon.
3. Create some kind of schedule.
One of the cool (?) things about working from home is that yes, you can eke in some extracurricular activities, like laundry or even cooking.
I try to throw in a load of laundry before I dive into work, and cycle beepers also become a nice reminder to take a brief break and get up.
Another WFH trick I like to use is the Pomodoro method. This is literally named after a timer that looks like a tomato, but really you can do it any way you want.
There are apps for this, or you can use a kitchen timer. I usually ask Alexa (she my girl) to set a time for, say, 40 minutes of work. When the timer goes off, I try to quickly wrap up (click save!) when I’m doing, then I take 5-15 min to do something else, like check email, Facebook, the mail, load of laundry, etc.
As time goes on, you’ll discover the amount of time you can work without interruption. I usually can’t go beyond 50 minutes or I find myself in bad scrolling habits.
Work from home pro tip: Make time for lunch – away from your computer (she says, even though she literally never does this), and give yourself a sign-off time for the day.
4. Be patient and kind with yourself.
Before I had Bo, I was this|close to my perfect schedule. Things are different now, and I’m still figuring out what works best for me, what actions yield the highest production, what I need to delegate, etc.
Obviously, it’s WAY different now, but keep in mind it is a process, and try to listen to what your mind and body are telling you about how you work. It’s a cool chance to learn something new about yourself.
5. Get comfortable.
Some people say you should act like you’re going to your real-life office job – get a shower, get dressed. But I’ll be real – that’s not been my jam.
I like to be comfortable. Showering isn’t necessary every single day. I mean, wash your face, brush your teeth, and touch up the deodorant and dry shampoo, but you don’t need to be fresh every single morning (unless you do, then do you). (Update: I’m now a daily shower person, but I’m also working out daily.)
I also have invested in some nice sweats that I look and feel good in because it is my uniform. No hole-y oversized sweats from college, but cute athleisure, if you will, that looks and feels good but 100% casual and comfortable.
Also: fuzzy socks or slippers. All year long. (Note, these items always make great gifts for your always work-from-home friends.)