Ahh, working from home. It’s a dream come true and simultaneously a nightmare. Working from home can mean some wonderful things—from sweatpants all day to cuddly pets nearby—but it can also mean distractions and a loss of productivity. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but it can be helpful to seek the advice of others instead of having to figure it all out yourself. It’ll save you time and stress! The Wonder Jam is connected to bunches of smart collaborators all working remotely — so we’ve polled those folks for their best tips to help you work from home, reap all the benefits and still meet every single one of your deadlines. Keep reading to hear what our people had to say.
WordPress Wrangler Matt
If you find yourself constantly distracted by certain websites (Twitter, Facebook, CNN, etc.)—especially now that coworkers aren’t there to see you browsing—there are programs like this one (for both PC and Mac) that will completely lock you out of any websites you list for a period of time. Popping this on for even an hour at the beginning of a workday can really help build some momentum.
Get dressed and do your morning routine like it’s a weekday, not a weekend, but also have that one thing that makes you feel cozy and comfortable (slippers for instance).
If you don’t have a dog or another reason to go outside, still go for a walk in the morning so that your body feels a transition between getting up and starting work that your commute usually provides.
When you start working from home, you’re now free to work on your own timeline. At first, it’s easy to worry you’re not waking up early enough or you’re working too late. But over the years, I’ve learned how to ease up on myself and work at my own pace. The one thing that’s consistent about being human is that we’re inconsistent. Hit your deadlines, but be okay with what that looks like for you. Every day will look different. One day, you’re working at 8am, the next, you might not start work until 4pm. That’s okay!
Having a project management system is KEY. Asana is a life-saver (and so is Dayna!). Before I go to bed every night, I check my schedule for the next day to make sure I know what I’m in for (and that I’m prepared for any meeting).
Project Manager Dayna
Make a workspace for yourself. Maybe that’s a really clean, organized desk, or maybe it just means clearing off table space and putting up some photos, lighting a candle, putting on a good playlist, etc. You want to be happy in the space you’re working in. I’m more productive if my desk is cleared off and I love the aesthetic of my workspace. Also, I think the space should be separate from where you may be tempted to watch television. Try to separate work and personal life as much as you can.
As much as I love working in my pj’s, I’ve learned that it’s important for me to “get ready” for work. Before I get to work, I shower or at least wash my face and brush my teeth. I change out of what I slept in—most of the time to yoga pants and a comfy shirt (but that is my work attire now!). I’ve found that when I skip these small steps and just walk from my bed to my desk, it takes way longer for my brain to really start working.
I also love getting out at least once per day—even if it’s a short walk with Iggy (my dog) or running to the grocery store. I like to break up my day with something personal or out of the house.
Ecommerce Developer and Designer Ashli
Be really intentional in thinking about how you are communicating. Even with video chats and phone calls, there is a ton of remote work that happens via email. Focus on being consistent, clear and concise with every email. Don’t be afraid to ask a question, confirm a timeline or clarify a request. Be open, honest and professional, and assume positive intent. It might feel like you are overcommunicating, but you probably aren’t.
Plan some time for online “water cooler” talk. Anxiety is high right now, and everyone’s emotions are feeling a bit heightened. You can create a bit of joy by sharing a funny meme via email, calling a coworker to share a Netflix recommendation or creating a separate Slack channel for fun personal conversations.
Wellness Entrepreneur Tobi
Get GREAT at communication. Clarify. Learn to think like your team. When in doubt, effectively overshare.
Since everyone is sometimes working at different times, confirm what’s important or priority and set deadlines (some will be generic like “Thursday is fine” and some specific like “Thursday by 2pm is fine”).
Get dressed—continue your morning routine.
Take a moment to pause from work and do something else. I’d recommend scheduling an hour break when available.
Set boundariessss! Saying something like, “Hey Team, I’ll be offline after 6pm today,” even if you might still be online. (New remote, traditionally non-remote teams are often challenged by this and assume you’re free all day.)
Co-Owner and Designer Allie
Remember that you’re still at work even if it’s online! Stay professional, use direct language, but feel free to infuse your personality into your online workspace.
Keep things documented in writing (even after a video call or regular phone chat) if you feel like that’s in your best interest! It will allow you to refer back to notes if you feel unclear on direction or tasks.
If it’s not urgent, tell your team that! It lifts the load and allows people to approach tasks as they are able.
Co-Founder & Marketer Adam
A Pomodoro timer has been amazing for me. During my breaks, I do dishes or laundry and tidy up. That way I’m sitting in a clean house at the end of the workday, and I can actually relax or host friends or do something engaging or creative rather than “chores.” I use an app called Be Focused Pro.
Get great coffee or tea. Part of the hassle of office life is that the coffee or tea is made in large batches so you sacrifice quality. If you have an office of one (or two) you can upgrade your setup a bit. I order my coffee from One Line Coffee in Columbus. My favorite decaf coffee in the world is from Ceremony Coffee. And of course, I’m happy to sell you the coffee I roast if you sign up here.
Copywriter & Content Strategist Malia
Make sure to set expectations for everyone who lives with you—whether it’s your partner, roommate or kids. On days when my husband and I are both working from home, we’ll communicate what hours of the day we plan to focus on work. This helps reduce distractions you’ll have to deal with. It can be hard to say no to a mid-morning or afternoon outing, but if everyone in your household knows not to ask during certain times, you won’t have to say no! If you’re working near the TV, ask that it remain off during work hours, or that they use a computer and headphones instead. People will respect your space if you ask them, but they can’t be expected to do this if you never communicate your needs.
Eliminate distractions and be honest with yourself. I keep my desk clear, light a candle when I sit down to work, and try to keep my phone on my bedside table during work hours so I’m not tempted to reach over and scroll, scroll, scroll. I know what my weaknesses are, so I try to stay ahead of them whenever possible. Taking breaks away from my desk helps keep my mindset right when I’m sitting down to work.
What are your best tips for working from home? Leave a comment below!