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Since stay-at-home/shelter-in-place orders have been enacted nearly everywhere, many people have had to learn the ropes of working from home. Telecommuting presents some unique challenges not found in a traditional work environment; home distractions, family happenings, and comfortable furniture can all make it difficult to stay focused. Today, we’ll offer some practical advice on working from home.

  • Create a designated work area. If you don’t have a home office, use whatever you have, such as a kitchen table or bedroom. Wherever you choose, though, make that area your work zone to help keep you focused and kick into work mode.
  • Ask the people living with you to act like you’re physically away at work. Essentially, ask them to kindly not disturb you unless it’s something really important.

  • Have a discussion with your kids explaining the boundaries that need to be set while you’re working. Older kids & teenagers have distance learning to do and are fairly sufficient at keeping themselves busy, but setting workday boundaries can be infeasible with young children. If possible, ask another household member to babysit until the end of your workday. There are pandemic-approved child care centers, but these are for parents who must work outside the home, such as healthcare providers and essential workers with no other option.
  • Avoid getting distracted by things to do around your home, like cooking dinner, doing laundry, washing dishes, and cleaning. When you’re working, treat it as if you were physically at work. If whatever is occupying your mind isn’t work-related, then it can wait until after you’re finished with your workday.
  • Don’t watch TV, surf Netflix, or keep social media open if you don’t regularly do so during work. Entertainment and social media can make it harder to focus on tasks, especially if you’re not used to juggling them with work at the same time.
  • Take breaks. Breaks help to keep from feeling overwhelmed, as well as help you focus when you dive back in. There are different ways to do breaks, like 25 minutes of work/5 minute break, 2 hours of work/15 minute break, etc. Find a break schedule that works best for you.
  • If you’re able to, avoid working from your bed, couch, or anything else too cozy. It’s far too easy to “stretch out for a minute” and end up taking a nap.
  • Know how to mute yourself and turn off your camera on video meetings and conference calls. Feedback and background noise can interfere with audio, so keep yourself muted unless speaking, and knowing how to quickly cut your camera can save from some embarrassing situations.
  • Hold yourself accountable. Remember: just because you’re home doesn’t mean you’re not working. Deadlines still need to be met and tasks still need to be finished.
  • Stick to your regular routine as much as possible. Wake up at the same time, shower, drink your coffee, eat breakfast… do whatever you did before going to work, and then at work time, dive in.
  • If you’re having a hard time focusing on telecommuting, get out of your pajamas and put on your work clothes (including the pants). It sounds goofy, but getting dressed for work can help put you into that work mindset.
  • Go with the flow. Things are bound to happen, from kids walking in during a video conference to the internet going down. Remember to breathe, stretch, drink some water, get fresh air, and laugh.