Community Chatter: We share our work from home hacks
Everyone has seen a lot of change this year, and one of the most common changes is the way our work life has shifted in response to the global pandemic. Many companies embraced the work from home model as a way of protecting their workers, and similarly, a lot of small businesses had to shift their models to allow them to continue their businesses in a socially responsible and safe manner. But whether working from home is new to you or you are a seasoned pro, it can present unique challenges depending on a multitude of factors.
We are sharing our tips for success below, and hope that you will join the conversation and share what works best for you. We'll collect some of the responses and round them up for you again later in the week.
Living in a studio apartment when we started working from home presented a lot of challenges, but the biggest was not having a defined space for work. I was always tempted to multi-task around the house and was easily distracted.
Enter: Wireless headphones! In lieu of physical space, headphones create an invisible work bubble where I can focus. I have playlists suited for different tasks, like instrumental for creative projects and rock for data. Podcasts for all of the spaces in between. Better yet, since they’re wireless I can still get up for snacks and breaks without leaving the “bubble.” I just take them out and tune back into my home life when I’m done!
I always felt comfortable working from home on occasion, until it was no longer an option and became an everyday way of life. Suddenly wearing sweatpants on a Friday while working from the sofa was less romantic and more stressful than I ever imagined.
The adjustment took a few weeks, but I learned how to make it work with a few hacks:
Daily Walks: Every day, no matter what is going on, I go for at least one walk. Minimum: 20 mins
Boundaries: I set work hours, and when my work hours are complete for the day I close my laptop, turn off the computer. If I want to go online after my work hours, I use my mobile device only.
Top 3 Priorities: Whether it’s the exhaustion of a global pandemic, or a really busy day in general, feeling accomplished at the end of any work day (or week) can feel more like a chore than the path toward success. To ensure a sense of accomplishment & productivity, I engage in a daily exercise every morning called ‘The Top Three.’ The steps are simple, but the exercise can change the entire day:
Review my to-dos for the day or week and isolate 1-3 priority items which can be done today if I focus on them.
Write down my top 1-3 priorities for the day. Rule: no more than 3 items can be chosen, and it must be possible to complete these 1 - 3 items in one work day. The key here is to be realistic. Is it possible to complete these 1-3 items today? Does 1 item require a day unto itself? If yes, make it the only item on the list. Never go over 3 priorities. Limit your daily list to 3 items, maximum.
At the end of my work day, I go back to my list and check off what was completed.
Finally, and most importantly, my greatest hack has been making a point to build connections through online communities. Whether it’s a slack channel with co-workers or becoming more active in another online community (I am a member of a reading group, for example), feeling connected to other people is an essential part of my WFH work day. Sharing tips, getting together for a Zoom happy hour, taking a minute to share a photo on Instagram...whatever it is, if I’m in touch with a community I feel less alone and a whole lot more supported. The most delightful moment is if I can help another person by answering their question or simply commenting on their thread; I love my internet friends and don’t know where I’d be without them!
Overall, working from home may sound delightful, but without boundaries, a little time outside if possible, a method to ensure a sense of accomplishment, or a connection to others, it can be quite challenging. The positive side of our current times is knowing that we’re all in it together and can help each other. I am always accepting new tips!
It’s been quite the journey over the past few months but the most important lesson I have learned so far is to take care of myself physically and mentally. The first month at home I was keeping to my pre-pandemic wake-up time even though I no longer had a commute. I was working more hours, answering emails and messages at all times of the day, and I felt terrible. I was tired, stressed, and on the edge of burnout.
Eventually, I realized that I was much less stressed (and happier) when I let myself sleep that extra 90 minutes in the morning. I still log on at the same time I used to, but I am not waking up at 5:30a to do it. And that extra rest has made all the difference in my energy levels and focus throughout the day.
Next, I set ‘office’ hours so I am only working 8-9 hr days. If I have early/late meetings then I’ll adjust my schedule to make sure I’m not working 10-12 hr days anymore to fit them in - sometimes that means a longer lunch than usual, sometimes it means a late start or an early end to my day. But by being flexible with my hours I allow myself to accomplish everything I need to without pushing myself to the edge of burnout by being "on" every minute of the day.
Setting boundaries and giving my mind and body extra time to recuperate each day has made all the difference. I’m less stressed, just as productive as before (if not more!), and I feel like I can handle whatever comes next.
Now it's your turn, what tips or tricks have you found made your work from home life easier?
Looking for more tips? Take a look at some other Intuit articles we have centered around working from home: