Stay Safe and Productive: The Best Tips For Working from Home
Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, more and more companies are encouraging or requiring employees to work remotely from home, including Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter. While occasionally disruptive, remote work serves as a great opportunity for employees and employers alike. To make the transition easy, here are some of the best practices to consider.
Set rules with household members:
It's best to start by talking to your household about what you expect when on the clock at home. If other adults will be around, make it clear to them that you need to work and ask that they treat you as if you were in the office and not actually there.
Make a designated workspace
If you don't already have a designated home office, you need to create a makeshift one to start working remotely. The best place is somewhere away from most of your house traffic where you will have minimal interruptions and can easily set up your work materials to stay undisturbed. A computer room is ideal, but other ideas are basement rooms (depending on if you have a finished basement), laundry rooms, or your kid's playroom(they'll survive having to hand over their play area for a while). If nowhere else, your bedroom works in a pinch.
When to work:
Try to work the same hours you would in your office. It's easy to get carried away and work longer than your normal hours when doing so from home. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you when it's time to call it a day. However, with remote work comes flexibility. If you are a night owl, you may benefit from starting your work hours later in the day. Inversely, if you're a morning person, you might find you are more productive and can get work out of the way first thing in the morning. Additionally, it may help to write down your schedule or things you need to accomplish that day at the beginning of your shift.
What to wear:
It's easy to get out of routine when you don't have to look presentable in front of coworkers and customers. When I first started remote work, I often sat down at my computer without having brushed my teeth or gotten dressed. As nice as this may seem, don't be beguiled by this newfound freedom.
The Wall Street Journal writes of the importance of dressing the same for home-based work as you would in the office, with the belief that "dress for success" also applies to working at home. Honestly, I don't see the true need for this unless you will be video conferencing with others. I do, however, believe that following a basic routine of getting out of your pajamas and practicing basic self-care and grooming leads to a better attitude each day.
Even if you're self-employed, take advantage of your breaks. I repeat: Take advantage of your breaks! When I first started blogging and freelance writing, I was so excited to be back in the workforce after spending two years solely as a stay-at-home mom that I often worked long hours and skipped taking breaks altogether. At first, it was easy to do–but I don't recommend it. It's easy to get carried away with work and skip breaks when they aren't being enforced by bosses or supervisors. However, walking away and taking that break can make all the difference in your work! Stand Up is a great free app to take advantage of; it sends you reminders to walk away from your desk.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) is a necessity when working remotely for a company that requires access to their business network. Your employer may give you a VPN to use for work, but if not, I recommend ExpressVPN, NordVPN, or IPVanish.
Video chat with coworkers
Remote work gets lonely, even for the most solitary person. Even if you don't get along with your co-workers, I advise video chatting with them instead of emailing in certain instances. For one, emails leave room for miscommunication. And, as much as you might think to yourself "okay Karen" about that annoying co-worker in the office, you may be surprised at how much you miss socializing with the Karens of the world– if only for a brief moment.
Not everyone responds to remote work the same way. Some people relish in this type of work. People who exhibit high levels of self-discipline tend to fare better, while others loathe the idea of having to work at home. The best advice for anyone transitioning from the office to home is to know what is expected of you and find what works best for you. Everyone works differently, and what works for one remote worker may not bode well for another.
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Every time payday rolls around, I’m on top of the world. Jeff Bezos-level rich - even though I’m anything but. And then somehow the very next day, rent is due.
The cycle continues. The next payday, bills for my apartment. I find myself without a surplus of savings since I just moved and newly-furnished my apartment completely.
Even more terrifying is the looming presence of the holiday season. Halloween’s officially over and before we know it, hello Thanksgiving…and then there’s Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s. It’s insane.
I’ve been feeling very British lately. Not in a Union-Jack-obsessed, “Keep Calm and Carry-On” way. I went through that phase in 2012 with everyone else… no thank you. And it’s not even a surge of patriotism catalyzed by the Queen dying — I’m firmly team Diana and team Meghan.
Now that fall is officially here, the holidays will sweep in and I’ll have to contend with the fact that I won’t be spending them with my family in the UK. I went home to London earlier this year, so there’s not much left in my travel budget for another trip across the pond. A few domestic jaunts might be in my future, but the closest I’ll get to England this winter is watching Love Island and Love, Actually.
So in that spirit, I’ve been filling my days with content from my favorite Brits. I’m listening to all the old British rock bands I grew up listening to, patiently awaiting the new Arctic Monkeys album, and rewatching anything with Michaela Coel in it. I even shipped myself an order of British Baked Beans, so you know it’s dire.
I’ve also been watching British YouTubers like Grace Beverley — my favorite. Generally, I only go on YouTube to watch Vogue Beauty Secrets and AD Open Door videos. But I’m so glad I stumbled on Grace. Her content is a mix of London lifestyle (what lured me in), relatable entrepreneurship, and mindful productivity. I’m not a hustle-and-grind-girlboss, but as a creative person in a 9-to-5, I need all the help I can get to stay plugged in. So, the video “how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmed” changed my approach to WFH.
Grace outlines her own productivity method: the to-do table. Instead of making a simple to-do list, she divides her tasks into a table that anyone can follow. As someone who’s survived with to-do lists for years, I recently implemented Grace’s method, and it’s revolutionized my workdays.
how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmedwww.youtube.com
I follow her routine to a tee. Here’s how it works:
Essentially, she divides her daily responsibilities into four categories: quick ticks, tasks, projects, and non-negotiables.
- Quick Ticks: Actions that take less than 5-minutes
- Tasks: To-do’s that take up to 30-minutes. Probably don’t take too much brain energy.
- Projects: Long-term list items. These help guide your priorities, even if you’re not crossing them off in one day.
- Non-negotiables: Pick 3 things each day that you must get done. This is how you’ll truly measure success.
With everything written down and sorted, next address your schedule. Meetings, deadlines, and time blocks — whatever works best for you. Write it down. Then make a pact with yourself to stick to them.
This way of categorization provides a roadmap for prioritizing your day — making you far more productive. Have you ever spent the entire day on small tasks and then suddenly realized you hadn’t moved the needle on any task? Or do you spend way too much time on tasks that aren’t a priority? No more. With your non-negotiables laid out, you know what to laser-focus on and what to dedicate energy towards.
Also, it pays to know your working style. I’m not a morning person. Yet, I have to be up and at ‘em super early. So, first thing in the morning, I march through my Quick Ticks to warm me up. I set a time limit, so I can knock out some easy wins which is totally inspiring. Then I move on to bigger things without lingering on emails or admin. For others, it might be more helpful to tackle the big things with all that early-in-the-day brain power earlier.
Grace has great tips on avoiding overwhelm and burnout. My favorite is taking more intentional breaks rather than scrolling through social media. I call this scrolling “productive” because I’m “coming up with pitches.” Oh, the lies we tell ourselves. It’s more productive in the long run to giving my brain a break with non-screen related stimuli.
Grace’s solution? Set a timer to read a real, an actual book. I’ve never thought of this. It’s a genius way to check off some books on my TBR and kickstart my creativity. After reading a good book, I’m completely inspired to write. So having books near my desk helps me step away from the computer during my lunch break for an actual reset. (And yes, the current books I’m reading are by British authors: Assembly by Natasha Brown, and Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalolu.)
In my pursuit of switching out my WFH set-up and getting my life together, I’ve engineered my workstation for success. With my new WFH essentials and Grace’s productivity technique, I’m revitalized for work — despite the fall blues and my melancholy about the pending holidays.
Here are the things getting me hyped for work and helping me crush my Grace Beverley-inspired to-do tables — no lists in sight:
Pack your bags — Southwest Airlines is having a major sale! Fares are as low as $59 one-way if you book by October 3rd.
This end-of-summer super sale is a game-changer for your travel plans through the end of the year. Summertime travel gets all the glory. But why not take advantage of your long weekends, holidays, and PTO this fall. You’ll be surprised at how much travel you can fit in. Keep the fall/winter season exciting with domestic trips that give you all the excitement without breaking the bank. All thanks to Southwest.
Here’s the breakdown:
Where can you go?
You’ll find discounted tickets to and from most airports. Sale fares apply to cross country travel, and even Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean! Whether you’re visiting a new city or revisiting your last beach vacation, this sale has fares to make your travel dreams come true.
What do the fares cover?
Southwest Airlines has multiple fare tiers, each with various benefits. Wanna Get Away fares start at $59, while Wanna Get Away Plus fares start at $89. You can also find great deals on Anytime fares, which offer priority boarding and express lanes. Then there’s Business Select tickets for a luxe experience at an affordable price point.
Do you have to be a Southwest Rapid Rewards member?
You may think these sale fares are too good to be true. Is there a catch? Do you have to be a Southwest Rapid Rewards member to access them? You’re in luck — anyone can attain these fares for a limited time.
But, insider tip, you should consider signing up for Southwest Rapid Rewards. With a free sign up, you earn points and miles with each trip you take. And with this sale, each dollar you spend on these discounted tix can stretch super far until you eventually earn free travel. The only thing better than a sale is free stuff.
I’ve been browsing the Southwest Airlines site, checking out flights and dreaming.