The coronavirus (COVID-19) has required social distancing and shelter in place directives that have forced a large number of people to work from home.  While working from home does allow us to avoid a commute and even work in sweats and a t-shirt, it comes with challenges.  Going to work in an office provides structure and focus.  After all, you cannot jump up and do a load of laundry or have your significant other or children pop in to ask you a question.

I have been working from home since 2013 and have compiled some of my best work from home tips below.

Keep as much of your existing morning routine as practical. This helps you transition from ‘being at home’ and ‘being at work’. It’s easier to stay focused on work if you have a routine that transitions you mentally from at-home mode to at-work mode.

Create a space to work. As much as possible in your home, create a separate space to work. Avoid working on your bed or couch if possible. If you don’t have an office area, the kitchen table or island can work well. Don’t forget to pay attention to the ergonomics of your work area, painful back, shoulders or wrists don’t help with productivity or your health.

Create a schedule and include breaks. This is another practice that helps keep the distractions surrounding you from affecting your work. It is also very easy to end up working, when you should be focused on your home and family and resting.
When working from home you might need to schedule your breaks, it is easy to forget to take them and even easier for them to end up being hours long when you see the undone home projects that are also waiting for you.

Establish rules and ‘signals’ with the other people in your home. This is one of the most difficult items to manage. Clear rules for things like TV/volume and an agreed upon signal for when you can’t be interrupted will help. Even though I’ve been working from home for 7 years, this still takes work, we have had to adjust that more since there are now four people working from home here. If you have more than one person working from home, make sure you share your meeting schedules.

Make time to interact with your co-workers.  It’s easy to get isolated when working from home. Use the phone, web meetings and chat to stay connected to people.

Reduce on-screen distractions on your computer. If you are using remote desktop software (LogMeIn, Splashtop, etc) set your view of your work computer to full screen. This will help keep the distractions of your personal pc out of sight. If you are working directly on your home PC, consider creating a ‘Work’ user on your computer, with none of your personal bookmarks or social media accounts logged in.
The idea is to get the things you do for ‘fun’ on your computer from tempting you while you are working.