Written by Valerie Sizelove.
For many people, working from home (WFH) has been a necessity due to COVID-19. Our schedules and personal lives have been completely turned upside-down which becomes much harder when there are children to teach, feed, and entertain.
So while being productive can feel difficult at times, these 15 straightforward WFH tips should help keep you at the top of your game.
1. Follow a Work-at-Home Schedule
Set aside 1-2 hours to develop your schedule. Make sure you have enough time to accomplish your daily responsibilities and reach your longer-term goals.
It can be hard to stick to the end of workday when your office desk is feet away, but keeping a strict schedule will help you avoid wasting time. You’ll probably need to make adjustments, but keep at it until you find something that works.
2. Make a Daily Schedule for Kids
If your children are out of school, you may be acting as a parent, babysitter, chef, and teacher. Not only is a routine essential for meeting your kids’ needs, but staying on-task will also help you remain cool and collected.
How to Plan Your Child’s Schedule
Scheduling is important, but it’s important to be flexible and forgiving. These aren’t like normal days filled with school and extracurricular activities, and most of us weren’t planning on homeschooling our children. Simply finding enough time to read this article is amazing in itself.
1. Start with a list of everything that needs to happen each day, such as:
- brushing teeth
- getting dressed
- learning tasks
- play time
2. Set a wake time and bedtime, then fit the rest of their necessary tasks into the day. Tasks with set times (i.e. virtual classrooms) should be among the first tasks you add to the schedule.
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3. Schedule outdoor time or physical play. The CDC recommends three hours of physical activity for kids ages three to five, and at least one hour for kids ages six and up.
4. Can some tasks overlap? Can learning happen for everyone at the same time? Can some kids have quiet time while others nap? Discover when elements can occur at the same time.
5. If you can’t fit everything into the day, consider shortening, eliminating, or moving certain elements to different days.
6. Leave blocks of transition time to allow for mishaps and delays (these are unavoidable sometimes).
7. Walk your kids through their new schedule. If they offer reasonable requests, make changes accordingly.
8. As everyone adjusts, the first few days may feel a bit rough. Keep trying until it works!
3. Get Enough Sleep
It’s easy to lose track of time while working from home, but getting between 7 to 9 hours of sleep is one of the best ways to maximize productivity.
Great tips for better sleep habits might include:
- Stick to a sleep schedule (try to follow it on weekends).
- Practice a pre-bedtime routine or ritual such as a warm bath, reading, or meditation.
- Get enough daily exercise. Even a brisk, 30-minute walk will benefit your health.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine which reduce your sleep quality and duration.
- Turn off electronic devices 30 minutes before bed (1-2 hours is ideal).
- Keep bedroom temperature between 60 and 67ºF.
4. Build a Better Home Workstation
When you work from home, you’ll need a functional – and comfortable – workstation. Is there space in a spare room, basement, or even the garage? Choose an area that faces a blank wall to eliminate distraction, then ensure your work area supports healthy posture.
Choose the Right Work Chair
To avoid muscle strain, your feet should touch the floor while your back rests snugly and against your chair. If your feet don’t reach the floor, consider using a stable footrest (try a stool or even a stack of books). To avoid soreness or fatigue, your arms should be bent at a 90º-115º angle. You may need to raise your chair or sit on a few pillows.
Avoid Neck & Eye Strain
To avoid neck and eye strain, the top of your computer screen should be at eye level and about 24 inches (approximately an arm’s length) away from your face.
To ensure that your eyes are well cared for, try the following tips:
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a break from your screen to look at something 20 feet away (for at least 20 seconds).
- Use blue light-blocking computer glasses.
- Try computer software that automatically adjusts screen brightness.
- Reduce glare with an anti-glare screen filter.
Consider Desk Hacks
If you don’t have access to a “traditional” home workspace, you can still work from your bed or couch.
In your bed, sit upright with your back against the headboard with a pillow behind your lower back, along your spine, and under your thighs to reduce lower back pressure. If you’re working on your couch, follow these same guidelines but keep your feet flat on the floor (or on a foot rest).
Pro tip: Avoid working with laptops directly on your legs. Use a lap desk or a hard surface on top of a flat pillow instead.
5. Practice Regular Self-Care
Working from home is hard, and when it’s for undetermined amounts of time, fear, anxiety, depression, anger, and irritability can creep in. Whether it’s a long bubble bath, meditation, or a live DJ set on Instagram, do something that lets you disconnect from work/family responsibilities for a while.
Focus on Your Mental Health
The following tips might help to identify and reduce negative thoughts and feelings:
- Identify – and actively remind yourself of – what you can and can’t control.
- Daily journaling can help express your feelings.
- Use a daily gratitude journal.
- Free self-help apps can teach you new ways of practicing mindfulness.
- Exercise everyday to ease anxiety.
- Seek professional help if needed. Therapists in your area are likely offering remote consultations and therapy apps will connect you to licensed professionals.
Limit Your News Consumption
The news can be incredibly stressful, especially since the media attracts viewers by sensationalizing events and feeding on the public’s tendency to worry. Since there’s a lot of misinformation floating around, consider ditching anything news-related on social media!
Practice a Morning Routine
Working from home, it’s easy to let go of basic habits like showering or getting dressed in anything but pajamas. But morning routine isn’t just for the office: It sets the tone for the rest of your workday.
Starting every day with a healthy shower routine will do wonders to revitalize your skin and senses. When you’re well-groomed and dressed in clean, comfortable clothing, you’ll feel a lot more motivated.
6. Exercise Every Day
You might need to practice social distancing, but taking walks around the neighborhood, doing yoga, or playing games in your backyard are great ways to unwind (and even bond with family).
7. Get Outside More
A major disadvantage of working from home is the temptation to sit on the couch and binge-watch things. Fresh air, however, is great for improving concentration – and sunlight helps raise serotonin levels, too.
If you have to meet a deadline but the weather’s nice, why not open the windows? Instant invigoration!
8. Stay Hydrated
The human body needs adequate water intake, and even mild dehydration can drain energy and dramatically impact health.
Factors like exercise, heat and humidity, overall health, and whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding can influence the amount of water you need. Generally speaking, however, you should drink fluids every time you feel thirsty.
What to Drink to Stay Hydrated
While sugary beverages will hydrate you, their caloric content will quickly add up. Try these natural alternatives to sugary juice and sodas instead:
- Flavored water
- Seltzer water
- Herbal tea
To add some flavor to your water, squeeze in a little lemon juice, muddle fresh mint leaves, slice some ginger, or even add a drop of organic lavender or grapefruit oil. The options are endless.
9. Eat a Healthy Diet
When you work remotely, it’s easy to fall into a junk food trap. To maintain a healthy immune system, remain energized, and stay productive, put down the chips and dip. Opt for healthier snack food like:
- Plain yogurt and cottage cheese
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and natural nut butters
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Dried fruit
Follow Serving Sizes
While healthy foods are great, stick to the recommended serving sizes listed on nutrition labels. For foods without labels, it’s easy to look up their nutrition values or think about downloading a food-tracking app like MyFitnessPal.
Follow these tips for more healthful eating habits:
- Instead of eating directly out of the bag, measure portions and eat from a plate or bowl
- Avoid fast foods and restaurant foods (which are loaded with calories and trans fats)
- Eat high-protein foods which can help suppress your appetite and stave off binging
- Drink a glass of water before and during your meal
- Snack on fruits and vegetables to keep you full longer
Create a Family Meal Plan
Choose one day to plan meals, grocery shop, and pre-cook as much as possible for the upcoming week. Ask your family members for input – you might discover some new favorite foods in the process!
Waste not, want not: Creating something new out of leftovers will save unnecessary trips to the store, so rummage around your pantry and fridge to discover new recipe inspiration. We love The Supercook website, which generates recipes using available ingredients.
10. You Can Still Have a Social Life
Loneliness is a major drawback of remote work, and under quarantine, it’s easy to feel a bit more isolated. You can still keep your social life alive while following social distancing measures:
- Have virtual “water cooler” breaks with fellow employees via Slack or video chats.
- Eat lunch with coworkers to catch up (or simply vent).
- Set up an afterwork group chat with “the girls” or “the guys” – complete with adult beverages.
- Play virtual games together via social gaming apps.
11. Start – or Continue – a Hobby
There’s no better time to start (or restart) a hobby. Look to YouTube for how-to videos and investigate new hobby ideas. Who knows? Developing a new pastime could lead to:
- A new source of income
- Meeting new people with similar interests
- Stress relief
- A healthier physique
- A new outlet for self-expression
12. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
When you’re trying to balance meetings, hit deadlines, and deal with screaming children, you might want to do some screaming yourself. To survive the chaos, you need to communicate clearly with others.
If your partner is working from home, ask them for assistance whenever it’s needed. Maybe they could take the kids on a walk or lend a hand with meal prep. Your partner can’t read your mind, so specify exactly what you need and how they can help.
13. Set Work Boundaries...
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you have endless time to do everything that’s thrown at you.
Your boss probably doesn’t understand what you’re dealing with, so be transparent by sharing your active work hours, creating clear “no-contact” times, and asking for fewer meetings, a slightly-adjusted workload, extended timelines, etc.
14. ...Then Set Family Boundaries
With you working from home, your kids will still have demands and your partner may occasionally make unreasonable requests. When you’re in “work mode,” your family needs to understand that “no means no.” To set boundaries with your family:
- Have non-negotiable “work times” when you shouldn’t be disturbed.
- Place a flippable sign on your workspace’s door to visually tell family members when it’s okay to knock – and when to steer clear.
- If you can, ask your partner to manage all child-related needs while you work. Do the same when it’s their turn.
15. Clean for 15 Minutes Every Day
Our Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner can clean nearly any surface in your home, and it’s safe to use around even the smallest family members.
When you spend more time at home, you (and your kids) are creating more messes than usual. Disorganized houses are a distraction, so nip things in the bud by setting aside 15 minutes to clean small messes.
Waiting for your coffee? Wipe down counters or sweep the floor. Kids brushing their teeth? Clean the bathroom mirror or give the toilet a quick swish. Even young kids can help, so set a timer to treat cleaning like a fun activity (while instilling the importance of chores). Things will be more manageable when it’s time for a deep cleaning.
Puracy Is Here to Help
Family has always been at the heart of Puracy. That’s why we’ve developed the best, most effective natural cleaning and body products on the market today. So even if working from home becomes the “new normal”, you can count on Puracy to provide the same peace of mind it always has.