9 Tips from Someone Who’s Been Working From Home Since the Before Times

You may have formed some bad habits working from home since the coronavirus drove us away from our offices. We’re here to help.

I’m a big fan of working remotely. I started doing it as a side hustle in 2013. And I have been working remotely full-time for the last four years – first for another company and then full-time for my own company, Brainchild Studios.

I love it.

I think it’s super productive, it provides the most flexible work/life balance you could ask for, you don’t waste time commuting, you save money on lunches, you name it, I think it’s great. 

However, I will say it’s not for everyone.

But when a pandemic virus sweeps the world, you kind of have no choice to adapt, am I right?
Or am I right?

So here are all the tips I’ve gathered over the last seven years of working from home. 

  1. Create a routine. It’s easy for people to get comfortable and lose motivation when they’re used to the mentality of “I’m at home, so it’s time to relax.” But that’s not the case. Brew your own K-Cups and create a route. This is what my daily routine somewhat looks like:
    • I wake up at 8 a.m. (because I usually go to bed at midnight and I learned the hard way that I need 8 hours of sleep to function).
    • Sometimes I’ll shower in the morning, but sometimes it might be in the afternoon, depending on the day’s schedule.
    • I always get up, put on clean clothes, wash my face, brush my teeth, take my vitamins, grab a fresh cup of water, a banana/quick breakfast, take it to my desk and begin my day.
    • I usually break around 2-3 p.m. to eat a super late lunch.
    • Then I wrap things up between 6-8 p.m., depending on the day.
    • Then dinner. Then hanging out with my main squeeze.
    • Bed by 10:30/11 p.m. Duolingo lesson. Daily New York Times mini-crossword puzzle. Check Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
    • Then read until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. Almost like clockwork, that’s at midnight.
    • Set my alarm, turn on my white noise, pop in the earplugs. Sleep and repeat.
  2. Create work spaces. I oftentimes hear people say they can’t find the space to focus when working from home. Totally get it. What I’ve found is you have to create little pockets for yourself. I have a home office, so I do 90% of my work at my standing desk with my large monitor and webcam setup. However, whenever I’m doing big-idea thinking or number-crunching that I can fit on my laptop monitor, I find myself often standing at our kitchen island for hours at a time. Or I might do thoughtful work while sitting cross-legged on our living room couch. On nice days, I love to write blog posts outside on our balcony. If I know I have to get a certain project done, I’ll go to a coffee shop and not bring a charger, so I focus. Create pockets of space with certain rules attached to them. I promise it’ll help with productivity.
  3. Embrace video conferencing. You might not think it makes much of a difference versus a phone call, but I strongly disagree. When I first started my virtual business, we just had weekly phone calls, but it didn’t feel as communal. When we shifted to Zoom video conferencing, it changed EVERYTHING. It’s a huge psychological shift when you can look someone in the eyes when you talk to them.
  4. Don’t worry about what you look like. Seriously. For all internal calls, we just want to get stuff done. If you have a client call, maybe comb your hair and adjust your lighting, but seriously, no one cares. Plus you save so much time picking out your clothes, doing your hair/makeup, etc. Just wake up, take a shower, get to work.
  5. Shower. This is my daily rule. Even before self-quarantining was trending, there would be days that I didn’t leave my one-bedroom apartment for three days at a time, but my one rule was that I would always shower every day. It’s just a good regulator. So please, bathe.
  6. Take a lunch break. Even if it’s at 2:30 p.m. It’s easy to get wrapped up in working from home (because of the limited distractions) that you get rolling and bam, it’s almost 3 p.m. and you realize you’re starving. Schedule in 20 minutes to walk into your kitchen, eat and not check email. It’s a nice reset to get through the rest of your day.
  7. Move your body. I’m guilty of not doing this as often as I should, but don’t do as I do, do as I say. It’s really easy to get less than 2,000 steps in a day when your commute is 30 steps across your home. Don’t sacrifice your health, make sure you keep your body moving. Even with the quarantine, stretch, do a few yoga poses or go for a walk outside. Bring your hand sanitizer and don’t touch anyone. Get those steps in.
  8. Take a nap. Yup, I said it. If you’re feeling that 3:30 p.m. lull and you hit a brick wall, take a 15-minute catnap. Now if you’re a 2-hour napper, avoid naps. But if you’re the cat-napper, do it. You’ll wake up and be ready to take on the next few hours. It’s so much better for your body than just chugging another cup of coffee.
  9. Utilize technology for quick answers. We use Slack for real-time communication. It’s a game-changer. Instead of disrupting someone with a phone call or sending an email and waiting for hours for someone to see it, real-time communication apps like Google Hangouts or Slack are awesome for efficiency.

Kiley Peters is owner and CEO of Brainchild Studios, a Milwaukee-based digital marketing firm. She also teaches digital content strategy at Marquette University.