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9 Tips For Working From Home And Staying Sane

Lots of people have suddenly been thrown into work from home life in the last few weeks. For those of you who have dreamed of working from home full-time, are suddenly being given a glimpse into what life could be like. 
 
Complicating matters at the moment is that in many homes, both partners are working from home which can get tricky. Add kids to the mix and you may realize that working from home isn’t quite as relaxing as you though it would be!
 
I’ve been working from home since 2007, before remote working was really popular. In that time, I’ve learned how to maximize my time to be as productive as possible without blurring the lines between work and home life. 
 
working from home tips
 
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Top Tips For Working From Home

Although lots of us love remote working, the truth is, working from home may actually affect our mental health and affect relations at home. Plus it can be stressful to try and do focus on work when you can see the dishes need washing or the kids need a snack. 

The tips below are tried and tested to help you stay sane while working from home, especially if you have kids in tow. 

1. Get dressed in the morning

Most people think that working from home means staying in your pjs all day and lounging around on the couch, however, you need to keep some kind of routine to your day. 

I always get up, shower and start my day at 9am just as if I were in the office. It helps me separate work time v family time and means I feel professional when on calls. 

My grandma told me years ago to always put on lipstick if you need to make a difficult call as it gives you confidence, even though the person on the other end of the line can’t see you. Getting dressed works the same way.

You’ll feel more professional and in theory, act more professionally too. 

That’s not to say you can’t wear sweatpants and t-shirts but just draw the line from bed to desk. 

2. Set up a workspace

Working from the kitchen table works fine but if you really want to maximize your work from home potential, you would do well to create a dedicated workspace somewhere in your house.

It doesn’t have to be fancy or even very big but it will make you will make you feel more organized. 

If you are really short on space, consider getting a small laptop desk like this one. For under $50 you will have a portable work station you can use anywhere. 

3. Stay Active

Build time into your schedule to go for a daily walk or hit the gym after work is done. It’s easy to never switch off when you work from home full-time and the hours just all kind of blend into each other. 

I always try to have a short walk at lunch time, even scheduling a walk during conference calls when I know I don’t have to participate too much. 

4. Plan Proper Meals

One thing I found hard when I first started working from home was to take the time to actually make lunch instead of just grazing all day. Often I will make myself a lunch box up in the morning, just as though I were going into the office.

I find that helps me stay on track and stops me from missing out on meals because I don’t want to stop work to cook. 

5. Stay Connected

Whether you are stuck inside because of a snowstorm or you are self-isolating, working from home can test even the most introverted people.

One of the hardest things for me as a remote worker is the lack of small talk and “water cooler” gossip that makes an office environment a fun space to be. 

It can be easy to fall into the trap of answering emails and texts but never really having a meaningful conversation with anyone, especially if you live alone. 

Take the time to call friends and family and Facetime with loved ones after work or on your lunch break. Even scheduling weekly team meetings can help remote workers feel less isolated. 

6. Create A Schedule

In addition to planning your meals and active times into your day, it can help to analyze when you are most productive and build your daily routine around that. 

For me, I am most productive in the morning so I schedule the tasks I hate first thing so then I can enjoy the day as it goes on. This also helps me to stop procrastinating and avoiding things I don’t like doing. 

 

7. Try Time Blocking 

Time blocking is a useful technique for any worker but it is great for those of us who work from home because it is so easy to get distracted by the laundry, the dishes and even just tidying up around the house. 
 
The easiest way to get started with time blocking is to use the Pomodoro technique. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.
 
You can adjust the time block to whatever works for you, I typically do 30 minutes then a 10 minute break before I move onto a completely different task. 
I find being forced to stop a task, even when I am not done, helps me go back to it with fresh eyes later in the day. 
 

8. Take Advantage of Your Extra Time

 
Without a real commute, you may find that you now have an extra 1-2 hours a day  on your hands. Sure, it would be nice to lay in bed for longer but to be really productive, make the most of this new-found time and tackle jobs you always put off. 
 
Maybe you will finally achieve your dream of inbox zero or sorting out all those photos on your phone. Create a workout schedule so the first half hour of your day is taken up with home-gym time which leaves you free in the evenings for that Netflix binge. 
 

9. Staying Sane With Kids 

Working from home gets complicated when you add kids into the mix. Depending on their ages, you might be able to have them to things independently so you can work but for younger kids, you may need to be present in short bursts. 
 
If your children are older give them boundaries. Let them know that they cannot interrupt you until you are on break. 
If they are teenagers, consider giving them some light work to do alongside you, and even paying them a nominal fee wage for their work. 
Younger kids?  We make  a little itinerary of activities in half hour intervals which coincide with my time blocks. 
I chose mainly activities that they can do by themselves, age appropriate chores, outside time (backyard where I can see them), screen time and time to clean up. 

I find my kids don’t ask for stuff when they know what’s coming next and the expectation of them to keep busy for 30 minutes. 

Here is sample schedule of my work day with kids at home that you can copy and adapt as needed. 

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TIPS FOR WORKING FROM HOME