Working From Home Tips

Posted on Sun 02 January 2022 in Life • 4 min read

I've been working from home full-time or part-time for over ten years. I don't know if working from home is the best choice for every person or every job, but it works well for me. Along the way, I've used some habits and routines to help keep me on task and employed. Here are some of my tips that might help you if you like the idea of working remotely, but have struggled to really reap the benefits. Keep in mind that I work in the tech industry at startups in generally a "sales engineer" role, so my experience may be different than your circumstances. Let me know what you think of these, and what tips you have for working from home!

Shower and Gat Dressed

I make it a point to shower every morning when I wake up. This helps me clear my head a bit, start the day with a routine, and also get clean. There's a big temptation to skip the shower because you know you won't see anyone in-person, but I believe that keeping this hygiene routine really helps you mentally and physically. If I have an early morning meeting, I might not have time before the meeting to jump in the shower, but I will always shower soon after that meeting when I can.

Another temptation when you know you won't see people is to not get dressed. I certainly don't put on any kind of business clothes, but I usually put on jeans and a clean shirt. Again, keeping this hygiene routine is important. The act of getting dressed also helps me get in an "awake" mindset, so I'm less likely to crawl back in bed or have the thoughts of just bumming around all day. That's not to say it doesn't happen, but getting dressed in "being-seen-in-public clothes" really helps me avoid it.

Have a Workspace

Having a desk that you work from is another idea that keeps me in the right mindset. My desk has a space for my laptop that also has an external mouse and keyboard, a big second monitor, and good lighting. I've also made it so the area behind me is acceptable for video calls, which helps me not worry about what's there when I turn on my camera. Recently, I've had a secondary workspace at our kitchen counter in case I need a change of scenery. If you've got the space for it in your house, I've found it really helps avoid the "locked in your office" mental trap. If you can afford it, get a really nice chair and desk so you don't feel like it's a chore to sit in your workspace.

Sometimes, I still work from the couch. It can work, and it's certainly a nice part about working from home, but my focus is much worse when I do it. Having the TV right there makes me want to turn it on "just for something in the background", but before I know it it's four hours later and I haven't gotten anything done except watch sitcom reruns when I should be working. Some people may be able to make this work, but it just flat-out does not work for me.

Move Around

My step tracker really opened my eyes to how little I move around when working from home. Making an effort to move around will help physically and mentally. I've started using little tricks, like forcing myself to use the furthest bathroom in the house just so I have to walk further. I keep less food and drink nearby (although still some in case of emergencies) so I have to walk to get those. Doing laundry during the day means I have to go upstairs and get the basket to bring it downstairs where the washing machine is. All these little steps do add up!

The other part of moving around is taking an actual walk. With no commute time, it feels like you've gained back part of your day so you're not sitting in the car. I specifically walk the dogs around our block in the morning and again in the evening, which usually bookends my day to mark the start and end. This helps burn some energy, clear your mind, and gives you a change of scenery.

Have Computer-Free Time

Speaking of taking walks, one of the best things I started doing was having time where I wasn't at my computer. Now, let me be clear, I love technology and am not saying you should throw your phone across the room. However, stepping away from your computer throughout the day helps you think, daydream, work out solutions, and just reset yourself. I've seen a lot of benefit from using evening time to make dinner without being at a computer, then either listening to music/podcasts or just having some quiet time while the food cooks. Doing some workouts throughout the week is another great time for just music or background sounds.