The worldwide spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is having a dramatic global impact on our everyday lives. In the worst cases, heavily-affected areas are totally shutting down and ordinary life has come to a standstill as people stay indoors and take precautions to prevent spreading the illness.
However, even in moderately-affected areas, many of us (including myself) have been asked to work from home as an extra precaution. Thanks to communication tools like Skype and Slack, it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with coworkers and work remotely.
For those who aren’t accustomed to working at home, this may be a frustrating experience. You may be used to working in an amenable office space with all the supplies and equipment you need at your fingertips, but now find yourself at home without a proper desk setup.
Others may relish in this opportunity to do their work with all the comforts of home. What a joy it can be to wake up, sip on that first cup of coffee or tea, and simply get to work without the hustle and bustle of morning traffic!
Work from home is the new normal
Regardless of how you feel about it, working from home is a growing global trend—currently about 5% of the American workforce—that is bound to affect you not only now, but further into the future as offices adapt and take advantage of technological solutions to streamline their workforce and reduce their dependence on physical space, which can be costly to rent and maintain.
Fear not: you can work from home, just as well as you would anywhere else! For an idea of how your day could look, here’s an account of my daily work-at-home routine. Take from it whatever inspiration you like—everyone has different needs and preferences when it comes to what makes them most productive and satisfied in their work.
Morning - rise, shine, and conquer
My day begins with the gentle wake-up call of my alarm. I use the “Bedtime” setting on my iPhone to schedule my nightly sleep patterns. For Android users, apps like Sleep Cycle have the same feature, and many manufacturers (like Samsung) include this feature out of the box.
After waking up, I’ll go downstairs to the kitchen and brew my coffee (I prefer French press, but to their own). I need to eat breakfast right away, so I’ll usually hard boil a couple of eggs and have some fresh fruit. But really it depends on your body type and metabolism—some people need to wait until lunch to eat, or they’ll experience a mid-morning “crash,” whereas I can barely get started until I’ve got a full stomach.
From there I’ll go to my desk and make a to-do list for the day. My desk occupies its own space in the corner of my room, though if you have the luxury of using a separate room I’d highly recommend it. It’s best to have a unique, separate space uniquely set apart for working, and keep an eye on that desktop clutter, as it can have a big impact on your mental focus and clarity.
Having a clutter-free and work-specific space really helps me stay focused throughout the day, and having a to-do list makes me feel like I have a specific set of goals to reach. After establishing my to-do list for the day, I try to get a solid hour of work in. I find that my mind is freshest and most energetic in the morning.
During this initial burst of work, it’s important for me to keep my phone on silent and stay off social media. I find that checking my notifications just gets me trapped in a cycle of responding and continuing my social interactions that then distracts me from my work.
After the first hour, it’s time to take a break and stretch! You can stretch however you like. For me, swinging my arms in a circular motion and then doing some toe touches does the trick. This is when I allow myself about 15 minutes to check social media, maybe watch a short YouTube video or do pretty much anything that isn’t work just to give my mind a quick break.
When I’m ready to get back to work, I typically lift my desk to a standing position. I’m using the SmartDesk 2-Home Office as it’s really affordable and has a custom bamboo finish that blends perfectly with my home decor. Standing just helps me stay alert and get back into working mode after allowing my mind to wander for a few minutes.
After I’ve lifted it to standing height by pressing a button (it saves my height setting so I don’t have to readjust it every time), I drill back down into my tasks for the day. Personally I find that listening to instrumental music helps me stay focused and avoid other distractions in my home (Tycho is one of my favorites!)
Lunchtime and afternoon crunch time
Depending on how I’m feeling and how much I get done, I’ll usually take my lunch around 11:30 or 12. This is super important! A lot of people will simply eat at their desks and work right through lunch, but health experts agree that it’s actually better for your productivity and focus to give yourself a break and focus on just eating.
I leave my desk at this point and eat lunch in the kitchen, so I’m not tempted to do anything on my computer for this. If it’s a nice day out I’ll go for a walk, and if I’m feeling extra ambitious, I’ll hit the gym for about an hour to get a little mid-day boost.
After lunch and a bit of exercise, it’s afternoon crunch time. Again, I’ll give myself breaks and alternate sitting and standing every hour or so, just to keep myself motivated and energetic. Social media should be kept to a minimum (or even completely avoided if possible). Halfway through the afternoon I like to treat myself to some chocolate or fresh fruit for a sweet little boost.
Around 5 or 6 pm is when I usually wrap things up, depending on how much I’ve gotten done. Once again, the perks of working at home mean that you don’t have to make your way home in that rush hour traffic. It’s time to leave my work zone, snuggle up to a movie or grab dinner with friends, and enjoy my evening, so I can get a good night’s sleep and feel refreshed and recharged for the next day.
Everyone has their own unique work routine and daily rituals to keep them inspired and motivated. With a little creativity and practice, we can work from home just as well as we work in the office, or anywhere else. What are some of your work-at-home tips? Sound off in the comments below!
Created by John Mark Harrell (Blog Contributor)
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