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March 24, 2020
6 Work from Home Hacks to Save Your Sanity
Kelly Bradley
Kelly Bradley

By this time, we’re all likely facing the same challenge: figuring out how to work from home.

Yes, working from home has its perks. No commute to or from the office, unlimited snacks and coffee, working in sweatpants … the list goes on.

But if you’ve never worked from home before, this working style requires some getting used to. Instead of relying on two monitors, many of us are working on tiny laptop screens. Rather than walking over to your co-workers to chat, you now have to rely on Slack, email, phone call or video conference call software. Yes, it’s an adjustment, but let me assure you, it can be done.

Having worked remotely over the last four years, I’ve discovered a few things that make the work from home life a whole lot easier:

1. ESTABLISH A ROUTINE

We all had a routine we were used to when commuting into the office. For me, it was waking up early to workout, showering, making breakfast and walking to Chicago’s CTA. That became my everyday routine. When you’re working from home, it’s easy to say “I’ll work out later” or “I’ll make breakfast after this call” or “I’ll brush my teeth after I eat breakfast and ohmygodits3pmandIstillhaventdonethat.”

Just because you’re not leaving the house doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a routine. Ever since working from home, I continue my regular routine – just without the commute – and it helps put me in the right mindset for the work day. Whatever your routine is – reading the paper, walking the dog, making coffee – stick to it. And avoid setting your alarm 10 minutes before the work day starts. It can be tempting to sleep in, but give yourself time to mentally and physically prepare for the day. It’ll put you in a better, more productive headspace.

2. COMMUNICATE WITH THOSE AROUND YOU

Screaming children. Barking dogs. Televisions and/or computers at high volumes. Music playing. Family members talking on speaker phone … working from home has its distractions. This is why it’s important to keep those around you in the loop on what you’re doing. If you know you’re going to be on a call in five minutes, let everyone know. That way hopefully your family will remember to avoid vacuuming, running the garbage disposal, playing the drums, etc., for at least the duration of your call. If any of those things do happen while you’re on the phone? Mute. Your. Microphone. Everyone on the line will thank you.

3. SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

Kids bursting into your office space during a video conference call probably isn’t ideal, but it happens. And that’s OK. People will understand – especially during today’s climate where everyone is facing the same or similar challenges. Have a huge mess in the background of your video call? People are likely to cut you some slack. Let go of the idea that you have to have a dead silent, Marie Kondo-approved space in the background. Of course, it’s always a good idea to have dog treats or toys on-hand if your furry friend won’t stop barking. I don’t have kids, but honestly treats (human ones) and toys would probably work well for them, too.

4. CONNECT WITH FRIENDS

If you live alone and work from home, the days can start to feel a bit isolating. Don’t get me wrong – the complete silence is great, but at the end of a long work day, everyone needs a little social interaction. I always like to schedule FaceTime sessions with my friends and family to allow me to unwind and be social without leaving the house. At CBD, we’re scheduling virtual happy hours to stay connected with our co-workers while enjoying our favorite adult beverage.

5. SCHEDULE BREAKS

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked straight through lunch without realizing it because there’s nobody around you going to lunch or reminding you that it’s time to take a break. To prevent yourself from getting burned out, block off your calendar to give yourself time away from your computer – even if it’s just 15 minutes. That way, you come back feeling refreshed and ready to continue working.

This also goes for the end of the day – set boundaries for yourself when you work so you don’t end up working the whole day and burning yourself out by mid-week.

6. OVER COMMUNICATE

Because you can’t talk face-to-face with your coworkers, there are things that might get lost in translation via email, Slack or other means of communication. A quick Slack or a five minute phone call for clarification can ensure that everyone’s on the same page.

Not to quote High School Musical, but we’re all in this together. Let’s support each other as much as we can during this time.

Need more work from home advice? Tweet your questions to me @KBradley_CBD.

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