Thursday, November 26, 2020

Tips on Working from Home Successfully

Ask the Life Coach


Dear Coach,

My office is closed but, fortunately, I’m able to work from home. However, I’m struggling with this new, strange work environment. I miss the routine, the camaraderie, the normalcy of going to work somewhere other than my home. Any suggestions?

Missing My Routine


Dear Missing,

These are trying times for all of us. Parents frustrated with homeschooling, seniors feeling lonely or isolated, and children feeling frightened, disoriented, sad, frustrated, angry.

Pushing all these other issues aside for now, let’s focus on your dilemma of how to work from home. Many years ago, I taught day-long, community college workshops on How To Work From Home Successfully—I worked from home for almost 20 years. Here are a few tips from that workshop and my personal experience:

  • Get up at the usual time—go to bed at the usual time too—this is a first step in establishing a normal routine.
  • Get dressed, shower, shave, comb your hair. As tempting as it may be, do NOT stay in pajamas or sweats all day. When you look like you mean business you will feel more like getting work done. 
  • Establish a work routine that includes a coffee and lunch break. Resist snacking all day just because the refrigerator is nearby. Eat healthy meals at the table—not at your desk. This is a good time to check-in with your family or colleagues via text or email. 
  • If possible, create a workspace that is out of the family zone. Ideally, you want to carve out a quiet, appealing space. A dark, dank basement or other unappealing workspace is not conducive to staying motivated and productive.  
  • If necessary, educate your family on the fact that you’re working so they can have food on the table. Your children, especially since they are now home also, will be especially challenging. Be clear about your work hours and when you are available to play or talk or answer their questions.
  • Work your normal hours (8 AM – 5 PM, five days a week or whatever is normal for you). Resist the temptation to work too much or too little which is the typical response of those working from home. 
  • Don’t be tempted by household chores, social media, text messages, television, or personal emails during your workday. Remove yourself from these temptations if you have to. Set time limits on how long you can be on social media or playing computer games or whatever keeps you in procrastination mode. 
  • Embrace your new normal. If you’re frustrated, try to change your perspective by considering that you are “safe at home rather than stuck at home.” 

Coaching questions: What’s your biggest work-at-home challenge? What’s one step you will take today to overcome it? 

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