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5 Work From Home Tips for Surviving Social Distancing

Where to even begin? It seems like day by day-hell, hour by hour, there are more closings, updates and articles about Covid-19. It's almost hard to keep up. As you can tell from my last post, I, an extroverted people-lover am struggling hard with a social distancing situation. I feel slightly useless. Normally March is my busy season; it's why I wrote my travel hacks post. But, this isn't the first time I'm working from home. In fact, for my job, I work from home unless I am on the road. So, for the last 2.5 years, I've been a remote employee.

In my quest to feel less useless and restless when traditional work hours are done, I thought I'd share some working from home tips with those of you for whom it may be new. I hope they help you feel motivated and productive.

     Set Up a Home Office Space 

This is a crucial piece to start with. I keep seeing things circulate like "working from couch" which is technically do-able but may not help with productivity. If you're able, set up a work space for yourself. I'm not talking about a whole room, or even part of a room really, (though if you have that, even better). But a dining room table, breakfast bar, kitchen island or even living room table can work. I do not recommend trying to do your work from your bed, or even in your bedroom. Keep the place you sleep and relax separate from the place you do work. Try, if you're able, to make it a space you can put out of sight (and out of mind) when the work day is done to alleviate stress.
I've had that desk since HS, but it works!
There are some great armoire desks you can purchase that you can literally fold away after. Or if you're doing work in one of your common spaces, pick up everything when your day is done so you can disengage with work.

     Be Organized

If you didn't catch this from other posts where I seem very organized, I am a chronic type-A. Even if your work from home situation is temporary, staying organized is going to really help you with productivity, and also your sanity. When you sit down to start your day, write out a to-do list on your favorite pad of paper. Yes, I said PAPER. If you haven't ordered some favorite supplies, do that as part of your plan to get organized. There's something super satisfying about physically writing things down and then crossing them off when they are done. But do that; start your day with a running list of things you need to accomplish. Some folks do well to do the toughest first and get those out of the way, others are the opposite and want to celebrate small successes. Either way, a list will help keep you on track, and crossing things off with your favorite pen will make it more fun.

Speaking of supplies, include some kind of filing system or folders; something that won't take up too much space. The one I have in my office is a version of this I got back before the Amazon boycott. Add in a calendar, some cute accessories, a dry erase board and personal touches. You'll feel official, stay organized, and ramp up your productivity. Not to mention, you want your work space to be a place you want to be (just not all the time) and being organized will make you feel less stressed.

     Get Dressed

I will admit I am not super good at this one. I have had many days when I know I am not traveling that I either wear my pajamas or workout clothes (sometimes I stay in them after the gym and I know this makes me disgusting). But, I know I always feel better when I get up, throw clothes and try to make my hair presentable. I mean, sometimes it's a t-shirt and jeans, but it makes me feel more productive. Now more than ever, making an effort to be presentable like you would for the work day will be essential. I don't know about the places you work, but I know that I have a ton of video conferencing coming up. I still need to be professional and ready for the day, so I'll definitely be starting my day with my hair toss, check my nails.

     Find a Good Playlist
AvMusic is important to me. I definitely focus better when I've got some good tunes on. I generally go with piano ballads, acoustic playlists, or folk selections because they relax me, but you do you. I've tried listening to podcasts while I work, but it never goes well because I get too focused on the podcast episode. It has to be music. And an added bonus of working from home? You can listen to whatever the hell you want and no one can get mad at you for your showtunes or selections from Disney soundtracks, both lists I've played.

Music is life-this is one my less embarrassing ones

     Avoid Distractions

This is easier said than done, especially since you may have children who are now unexpectedly home. They are not easy to ignore, nor should you. However, turning off the TV, ignoring Facebook and Instagram (unless your job requires you do utilize them) and only taking work calls will help. Minimizing interruptions will help keep you focused and on track. Sure, the kids will need your attention and some distractions cannot be helped, but try to avoid self-sabotage. Plus, now is as good a time as any to avoid the 24hr news cycle and inevitable rabbit hole of scary Coronavirus news. 

I'm fortunate that I have been used to this already, that I've had 2.5 years to get a rhythm down for working from home. I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue to do so and earn my living while protecting people and helping to flatten the curve. It was important to me to pass on some tips so you can feel a little more centered in this weird twilight-zone March we are experiencing. 

Anything you're doing in this work from home model you want to share? Burning questions about the WFH  lifestyle? Send 'em my way!

Be healthy, well, and organized. And wash your hands!


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