If you asked me back in January what I pictured my first post-grad job to look like, I probably wouldn’t have told you that I’d be starting my career from the same desk I did my homework on in middle school.
However, here I am, in the midst of COVID-19, working remotely from the desk in my childhood bedroom. I was fortunate enough to secure a full-time position before the global pandemic set the world ablaze, so naturally, I had some expectations for how this role would look for me. I didn’t think that would look like my dog sitting at my feet while my parents walked behind me in the background of a Zoom meeting.
Though I’m grateful my commute to the office has been cut from 30 minutes to the 3 steps from my bed to my desk, I, unlike my coworkers, have never experienced working full-time in an office. Since working from home is all I’ve known so far in my career, who better to share some helpful work from home tips? Here are 10 tips that I’ve learned so far:
1. Set a Schedule
When you start your day, it’s important to list out everything you’d like to accomplish. I keep 2 lists: one for things I’d like to complete by the end of the day and another for things that need to be done by the end of the week. Mapping out your day like this gives you a glimpse into how you will be attacking the day, allowing you to allot a certain amount of time for each task. It also helps you keep track of everything that must be done. If a coworker emails me with a new task, I immediately write it down so I do not forget. My to-do list is my lifeline! If you’re like me, you’ll get instant satisfaction by crossing items off your list.
2. Have Some Background Noise
When I was in the office as an intern, I was in a room full of people who were constantly chatting. Switching from this constant buzz to being alone in my room is a pretty big change! I find it helpful to have the TV or music on in the background. I’m not saying you should be watching that Netflix series you’ve been binge-watching during work, but it’s helpful to throw a channel on and turn the volume on low to fill the void.
3. Take an Unstimulated Break
In the office, our eyes get a break from the computer screen when we talk face to face with coworkers. Since all of our communication is now done virtually, it’s important to use your break time to give your eyes a rest. Take an unstimulated break. This means no computer or phone. Give your mind and eyes a chance to take a breather. You’ll find that you’ll return to your work after a break feeling refreshed and ready to finish out the day.
4. Check in with Your Coworkers
One of my favorite things about my job is the people I work with. When I was interning at the office, I loved chatting with my coworkers and hearing about what was going on in their lives. Even though we are no longer in the same building, we can still keep up with each other! Check in with your coworkers from time to time to see how they are doing and catch up.
5. Seek Opportunities
Being 30 minutes away from the office, I lost about an hour a day to my commute, sometimes more with traffic. Now that my commute from my bed to my desk takes approximately 2 seconds, I have a lot more time in the day! Use this time to seek opportunities for personal growth. Take a class or get a certification for something you’ve been dying to learn more about, especially in topics that will help you in your career!
Since we’re not all together in the office, sometimes tasks can get lost in translation via messaging, email, or video chat. This is why it’s important to overcommunicate. When you discuss a new project with a team member, be sure you have a clear idea of what you have to do. Before you get off the call, don’t be afraid to say, “Okay, let me clarify that this is what I am supposed to do.” Better to overcommunicate than waste time having to redo a task due to miscommunication!
7. Keep Your Workspace Clean
I’ll admit I’m a little bit of a neat freak. Since your work desk is in your home, you should try to keep the area tidy. This also helps to ease your mind at the end of the workday. When I clock out at the end of the day, I close my planner and laptop and place them in a neat pile on my desk. When I return to my desk in the morning, I am able to start the new workday fresh without being overwhelmed by the mess left from the day before.
8. Keep Your Phone a Distance Away
One of the biggest complaints about my generation is that we are always on our phones. For some people, it is hard to fight the urge to have your phone in your hand and mindlessly scroll through a social media app. This is a major productivity killer! Keep your phone a little bit more than arm’s length away when working. This way, you’ll be able to fight the urge to get sidetracked by your phone.
9. Move Around
In the office, you can get up and move around, whether to speak with a coworker or to take a walk to the breakroom. Even though our office communication is now at our fingertips, it’s important that you try not to sit still in one place all day. Take a quick walk to the kitchen to fill up your water bottle or take a few seconds to stand and stretch. Somedays I find it helpful to move my workspace to a different room. This change of scenery allows me to keep my routine fresh and not mundane. When you’re finished working for the day, try going for a walk to get out of the house, stretch your legs, and get some fresh air.
10. Pat Yourself on the Back
Working remotely isn’t easy! This new way of life has taken some time to get used to, and we’re all learning. Maintaining a positive attitude is extremely important to be successful during these difficult times. If something goes wrong, take it as a lesson for how you can do better next time. Give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate even small successes. This will help you maintain a positive mindset while working from home. Being positive about the situation will actually make you more productive!
While the work bag I treated myself to for graduation stays in its packaging for now, it’s important to make the most of the situation. It’s very easy to get down on yourself while working remotely, but try to look on the bright side. Think about the pros of working from home, like the time you save in your commute, the abundance of snacks available to you in your kitchen, and getting to have your dog as a coworker! Be kind to yourself, cut yourself some slack, and stay positive!