My Advice for Working from Home
Instead of fleeing New York due to the Coronavirus, I decided to stay. I love my apartment and I thought this extended time at home would give me the opportunity to clean out every closet, cabinet, and drawer, as well as read the stack of books by my bed. I also plan to finally edit all the photos I’ve taken on my travels and visits to historic houses. Before I get to that, I wanted to start with my advice for how to navigate working from home. It’s something that I’ve been doing for the last 10 years and it’s the one aspect of self isolating that I’m less stressed about but I know that’s not the case for everyone. I saw a fashion person post on Instagram last week that they were really struggling with being away from their team. I suspect that working from home is going to be hardest for extroverts and social butterflies so I’ve put together some tips to help make the transition smoother. I know some of these suggestions might be hard with small children in the house so you can modify them as necessary or come up with your own plan.
- Create a strict wake up time. You must try to wake up around the same time every day. For me, it’s usually 7:00am but I haven’t been sleeping at all lately so I’ve been letting myself sleep a little later. You won’t have a commute now so you can probably push your wake up time. If you have kids, maybe it means waking up at 5:00am to give yourself some quiet time. You don’t want to get too far away from your usual schedule so it’s not so hard to get up when you go back to work.
- Make your bed. As soon as you wake up, make your bed. You will be less tempted to get back it but it also gives you a sense of accomplishment and starts the say on a positive note.
- Create a schedule. You need to figure out if you want to get up and get straight to work or take some time to eat breakfast first or workout and then shower and eat. Having a plan helps you structure your day. I used to make the mistake of working as soon as I got up and then I’d be in a robe with wet hair when the FedEx guy would deliver a package at 1:00pm. Plan out the hours when you will work without distraction. For those with children, maybe this is while they are doing their remote learning,
- Take a shower and get dressed. You might be tempted to work in your pajamas but trust me when I say how much better you will feel if you shower and get dressed. Self care is very important and not taking care of yourself could lead to depression. If your boss schedules a last minute video call, you don’t want to be caught in your pajamas with bedhead. I do think it’s ok to wear comfy pants but maybe put on a nice sweater. I feel more pulled together when I put on some make up and do my hair. Even if no one sees me, I feel better.
- Create a designated place to work. I have a desk (see above) but I have gotten into the bad habit of working from my sofa. Perhaps I’ll try to discipline myself during this self isolation. If you don’t have a desk, sit at your dining table. If you don’t have a dining table, consider buying a card table or laptop desk. As a last resort, you can work from your sofa but never work from your bed. I saw a beauty editor post herself working from her bed and that’s a very bad idea. You’ll get too comfortable and be tempted to nap. The only time you should work from bed is if you have to quarantine in one room so you don’t get the rest of your family sick.
- Make time to exercise and move during the day. Maybe take a run in the morning before you sit down to work or take a free online workout class. Think about taking a walk outside after lunch for some fresh air and sunshine while practicing social distancing. You won’t be commuting so outside time is important. Exercise also helps boost your immune system and helps your mental health. Weight training has been shown to release as many endorphins as cardio too.
- Limit distractions. I will sometimes leave the tv on during the day for background noise but it’s a bad habit that I try to avoid. Maybe try to only check the news at the beginning and end of the workday and limit social media unless it’s part of your job. I find Twitter to be full of negativity so I try to avoid it. Instagram can be a nice escape but also an addictive black hole. You probably know what you should avoid.
- Take time for lunch. Since you won’t be able to go out, try to make yourself a nice lunch. Break out the good china and cloth napkins if you have them. It’s also best to clean up after and not leave dishes for later because you might be tempted to let them pile up.
- Listen to music. Take time to create playlists or find new artists. I have a mellow playlist that I love to listen to during the day. It’s on iTunes but I’ll try to create one on Spotify soon. Music has been shown to reduce stress and lessen anxiety which we all need now.
- Try not to do household tasks during the workday. Use your discretion with this one. I work for myself so I have more flexibility with my time and will sometimes do laundry during the day. If you are working from home, you are still working for your boss and company so try to keep other tasks to a minimum.
- Set a quitting time. Most of us who work for ourselves can and usually do work well into the evening. It’s healthier to have a cut off time for work so you can make dinner, watch movies, read, exercise, or just plain relax.
- Clean up and organize before you go to bed. Don’t leave dishes in the sink and make sure you straighten up and take the garbage and recycling out before you go to bed. It makes for a less stressful morning. Many people feel anxious if their work environment is cluttered so try to keep it neat.
- Set a time to wind down for the night. I usually try to log off from my computer at 10:00pm. I then wash my face, do my skincare regime, take a melatonin, and read in bed before lights out at 11:00pm. I swear I sleep better when I read before bed and my sleep is fitful if I deviate from this plan.
- Rinse. Repeat.
I’m lucky that my apartment gets a lot of light and is very cheerful on sunny days but it also gets dark on rainy and grey days which I have noticed affects my mood. Definitely take advantage of sunny days to go outside if you are allowed or work by a window. Try to do things to lighten your mood on rainy days like exercise or beauty treatments or watch a comedy.
Remember that this is not forever. Our grandparents did a lot more for our country in World War II than we are being asked to do now. We will get through this together but at a social distance.