Hey guys. How are you doing? We hope you and your loved ones are all staying safe and healthy during these uncertain times. First of all, we want to say that our thoughts are with all of the healthcare workers, grocery store workers, delivery workers and all those who are still out and working to keep us all healthy, fed and supplied. Our hearts go out to those of you who may be out of work right now. For some of us, we have the incredible privilege of being able to take our office jobs home and continue working remotely. Working from home has been the status quo for many workers for a while, but others may be experiencing this change for the first time, and it can be hard to get a handle on. You might be asking:
How do you work from home productively?
How can I be efficient with my time?
How do you feel part of a team, when you’re no longer seeing them?
Here are our top tips on how to work from home efficiently:
1.) Stick to a schedule
When I commuted to an office, my work day looked like this:
- Wake up at 6:30am
- Out the door by 7, commute to work and arrive around 8:45
- Work 9-4:45 in the office, then do the 1.5 hour commute home
- 6:30 to 11:30: Gym (lol), dinner, Netflix
- Repeat Monday-Friday
Sound familiar? My morning routine was figured out to the last second (“If I sleep for 30 seconds longer I can just do my mascara on the train!”) and every day had a familiar rhythm. There’s certainly comfort in routine. I wondered, “Without my iron clad schedule, what would my days look like?” Being alone with your thoughts all day and without that tight schedule can feel a bit like free falling. That’s why it’s so important to get up at the same time and plan out each day in time blocks. This keeps you accountable and provides the structure that Type A people like myself desperately crave. Here’s a sample of how I’d time block a perfect day:
Wake up. Coffee. Read a book for 30 minutes (not the news, social media, etc) or write morning pages (if you haven’t already, check out “The Artist’s Way”).
Get dressed, even if it’s just a different pair of yoga pants and clean shirt. This shift will help you transition your day.
- 7:15 – 10:00am
Check work email and make a priority list of 5 things I want to accomplish today. Start tackling the list. I will typically start with any budgeting or strategy work while I’m at my freshest.
- 10:00 – 10:30am
Eat a late breakfast, make the bed, tidy the kitchen.
- 10:30am – 1:00pm
Another time block to work, working my way through my checklist.
- 1:00 – 2:00pm
Take a walk. For now, I’m sticking to unpopulated areas and keeping a 6ft distance between anyone I pass per CDC guidelines. But I’m still walking for physical and mental health. Sunshine is so good for you!
- 2:00 – 2:30pm
Social media and news check in.
- 2:30 – 5:00pm
Last working block. I save this typically for project writing, returning emails and setting up the next working day.
- 5:00 – 6:00pm
Put on music that makes me happy, light some candles and do something creative. Painting, playing a game, doing a craft, you name it. Give yourself some phone-free creativity time.
- 6:00 – 6:30pm
FaceTime with a loved one.
- 6:30 – 7:30pm
Cook a healthy dinner.
- 7:30 – 10:30pm
Netflix and peppermint tea.
One important note here – when your home becomes your office, it’s extra important to establish clear boundaries on when work starts and ends, to maintain a healthy balance.
2.) Get dressed
I said this in my routine, but it’s worth repeating as its own category. I know – why bother right? Isn’t that a benefit, the fact that you can just look like a slob all day? Now I’m not saying you need to contour, do a cut crease and rock heels at home (but you sure can if it makes you feel good). Just wash your face, brush your hair, put on your nice yoga pants and greet the day. It really makes a difference for me when I sit down to work and puts me in the zone. Also, you never know when that WebEx is going to turn into a camera facing call, and you don’t want to look unprofessional.
3.) Planners are your friend
I’ve always loved the idea of cute planners but it wasn’t until I started working from home that they became absolutely necessary. Now every Sunday I sit down, look at the week, and prioritize my task list. Typically, I’ll use three groups: Things that need to be done for my job, things I want to accomplish creatively and things that need to be done around the house.
If you’re next level like me, I’ll break down the tasks in each category and assign time limits to each so that I can mentally block out what the day will look like. One of the great advantages of working from home is choosing the times for tasks based on when your brain will be the most receptive. Pay attention to when you’re creating your best work and plan accordingly.
4.) Connect with your Coworkers
Being alone all day is HARD, introverted or not. Maybe you used to shout to the cubicle next to you when you were second guessing how to word an email, or you’d take mental breaks and chat at the office Keurig. Just because we’re working remotely doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice the team feeling you get in an office setting.
Here are a few ways to do this:
- The FLIRT team LOVES Slack. It’s a great FREE tool that allows you to chat pretty much all day in 1-1 messages or teams grouped by project or department. You can share files and integrate with a lot of your exiting platforms. Plus, it cuts down on unnecessary email when you can simply message a quick question.
- Virtual Happy Hour
- Whether it’s a Google Hangout, FaceTime, WebEx or whatever platform of your choice, setting a 30-minute happy hour to hang out with your team and bond can instantly elevate your mood. It also will help you still feel a part of the group.
- Weekly team calls
- Weekly or even bi-weekly check ins are extra important right now so we all feel connected and don’t get too siloed in our own work. Regular calls allow you to be connected, ask for help when you need it and share the latest with your team members.
5.) Create a designated workspace
Having a designated workspace is key to productivity. If you’re in a small apartment (hi!) you can still make it work. I bought this cute desk from Crate and Barrel and it takes up almost no space and looks super chic. Get yourself some pretty stationary and a plant or two to keep it green. A bright, clean workspace creates a calm vibe which leads to a more productive day.
What are your tips and tricks for working from home effectively?