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How Work-from-Home Can Work for You

Working from home is a new paradigm for many, so making sure you have what you need physically and emotionally is important for getting the job done.

Are you finding that you’re focused and flexible? Irritable and isolated? Somewhere in between? Naturally, there are plenty of advantages to working remotely, but you may find a roadblock or two on your way to telecommuting nirvana. Check out these eight strategies for devising an effective workspace, setting your schedule, adapting your mindset and juggling that proverbial work/life balance for a successful work-from-home experience.

A Place of Your Own: No need to feel selfish about it—designate a you-only workspace for your home office, whether it’s a desk, folding table or rolling laptop tray. A devoted “desk” area also keeps your work tools (electronic and old school) accessible and secure. And be sure to pay attention to ergonomics when setting up your space.

Share, But Set Boundaries: Okay, so maybe you don’t have a space all to yourself and you’re sharing the dining room table with your daughter’s laptop and notebooks. Perhaps you can set boundaries to limit interruptions. Post your meeting schedule on a stand-up chalkboard each day so your family will know when you’re unavailable for a chat. Share supervision of children with a significant other or older teen (with a reward, of course), so everyone has devoted working time. Set up a schedule for your kids, too, so everyone gets used to following a routine. Expect breaks and disruptions, take time to interact with your family throughout the day and go with the flow! 

Hard Start, Hard Stop—or Not: Set—and keep—a daily schedule with a starting and ending time for work. This helps you create the boundary you need to keep work “at work” and not intertwined with all things cooking, laundry, relationships and childcare. Conversely, 9 to 5 might work in an office setting, but at home you can be more flexible with your work time to accommodate your family’s needs. Maybe you can get in a few hours before the household wakes, have a block of work time during a child’s nap or work after dinner when everyone’s settling in for screen time.

Plan Tomorrow Morning at the End of Today: At the end of each workday, identify the tasks you’ll need to address first thing in the morning, then populate tomorrow’s calendar with blocks of time to get the work done. Preplanning relieves the worry that you’ll forget something vital.

Nourish Your Noggin: Once a week, plan out healthy lunches so you’re not mindlessly snacking all day. Keep the fridge stocked with easy-to-assemble, nutritious foods like salads and bowls to keep your brain—and body—functioning at tip-top levels.

Chat More, Type Less: Prioritize verbal communication with fellow team members, your supervisor or your contact person so you’re not working in isolation. Set up methods to collaborate, whether it’s through Zoom, Skype, Teams, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or the ever-expanding chat apps. Talk, laugh, brainstorm, debate, listen and interact with others to keep the human touch in your daily work.

Stand Up, Stretch and Shine: Set your phone or fitness app to ping every hour as a reminder to stand up, breathe deeply, stretch your muscles and get your heart pumping. Do a quick lap around the house, drop for a few planks or strike a warrior pose—and notice how refreshed you feel with just a little movement.

Be Teachable and Keep Learning: Churning away at home doesn’t mean you should EVER put learning on hiatus. Sign up for trainings and webinars, look for development opportunities and sharpen your skills with online certificate programs that will allow you to explore new positions and advance your career.

Ready, Set, Goal: Set small goals each day to break up the monotony of a long-term project. Yes, you could work 8 hours on one project stream, but you’ll be more energized and engaged if you divide your workday into chunks—3 hours on the big project, 2 hours on smaller endeavors and then 3 hours back on the big project. These stop/start pauses give you time to step away from intense projects and regain your creative energy and productivity.

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