9 work-from-home tips in the era of ‘social distancing’

These guidelines—which prioritize maintaining as much of your daily routine as possible—will keep you focused and energized, as well as mitigating isolation and potential burnout.

Many of you have been asked (or required) to work from home—perhaps for the first time ever.

I want to share my top tips for surviving the transition—especially when you have laundry pilling up, kids running around, errands to do, news to monitor and more.

At Ragan Consulting Group, our entire staff works from their home offices. It took a bit of adjustment when I first started four years ago, but now I can’t imagine going back to an office full time.

Here are nine suggestions:

1. Create a workspace. If you have an extra room with a door, that is ideal. However, if space is limited, then buy a lap desk to use while sitting in a favorite chair in your living room or bedroom.

2. Maintain your routine. It’s tempting to sleep in when you don’t have a commute, but that can lead to delayed start times or a lax mentality. Wake up when you normally would. Then do the things that might distract you during your workday, like doing a load of laundry, watching the news or prepping your weekly grocery list.

3. Get dressed. Mentally, it helps with focus when you get dressed in your typical business clothes instead of putting on sweatpants or staying in your pajamas. It tells your body and mind that you’re in work mode and not lounge mode.

4. Keep the TV off. The news is changing by the minute, and it’s tempting to keep it running in the background, but it can pull your attention away from the work at hand. Instead, sign up for your favorite news outlet’s newsletter to receive alerts about breaking news via email.

5. Boost your Wi-Fi. Call your cable provider and talk about the increased use that may occur while you and you partner are working from home and with children home on iPads or computers. They’ll suggest the best speed increase for the short term.

6. Use a Bluetooth speaker. You’ll most likely have a great deal of conference calls while at home, as companies try to keep meetings scheduled and business moving. Buy a good Bluetooth wireless speaker that you can prop up hands free. Conference calls with faulty audio are frustrating and counterproductive.

7. Take breaks. At the office, you might not realize how often you get up to get water, coffee or a snack and stop to say hello to someone. It’s important at home to do the same things to avoid burnout. Every two hours go into the kitchen and refill your water glass, look out the window or watch a funny video online. During lunch, try to take a couple of laps around the block to keep up your steps and get fresh air.

8. Put your computer away. When your workday is over, close your computer. At home it’s easy to keep checking your inbox and answer quick emails, but that leads to long hours and lost sleep. Close it down, and walk away.

9. FaceTime with friends and family. At the end of your workday, during this time of “social distancing” you may feel isolated while working from home all day. So, grab a beverage of your choice; call a friend or family member via FaceTime, Facebook Portal, Skype, etc.; and talk about your day. It will help you feel less isolated.

If you are a veteran telecommuter, please share your own tips and techniques in the comment section.

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