Raise your hand if you’ve seen online ads or posts with tips for working from home (WFH) recently.
Just about everyone? Yep, sounds right.
Get dressed first thing, they say.
Give yourself a quiet space, they say.
Set alarms for breaks, they say.
I write this as my kids are chatting away on the floor next to my desk, and my face hasn’t seen makeup in three days.
Mimicking an office environment is all well-and-good if that’s how you function best, but as someone who has worked primarily from home for the past 5+ years, my BIGGEST and BEST tip for working from home is…
You do you.
Do what suits YOU.
It’s my #1 un-tip for working from home.
We are not robots. We are not minions.
We do not all function under the same blanket of rules and tips and “life hacks.”
We are dynamic, and we are people.
Some of us work best under pressure. Some of us work best after working out. Some of us work best after eating and meditating in the morning.
And that’s all just fine.
You’ll find what makes the most sense for your workday through trial and error, I promise.
My husband works the occasional day from home. He finds that his afternoons are more productive when he takes a power nap after lunch.
If I take a “power nap,” I’m sluggish and foggy the rest of the day.
My mom is a professor who starts grading papers at 4am.
I do my best work around 8am, after my kids are gone and I have my second cup of coffee.
What I’m saying is, success with at-home working doesn’t have to mean following a strict set of rules. Or anyone else’s rules.
It doesn’t mean one way is best, while others are ineffective.
Success with WFH depends on what works for YOU.
In the moment.
That day. That hour.
Keep Your Work From Home Routine Fresh
What I’ve learned over the years is that sticking to a set schedule at home gets stale.
Stale = bored = uninspired = unproductive.
I’ve met and worked with incredibly productive people who hop online at 5am every day to answer emails, and I’ve worked with equally productive people who do their best work at 11pm with a cup of tea and sweatpants.
If I asked the 11pm night-owl to wake up early, take a shower, clean her desk space and put on makeup before working, she’d wilt.
So would I.
And she’d probably feel stressed that she’s not doing it “right.” Or that she’s not working from home the “best way.”
After years of working from home, I can tell you the best way is whatever makes the most sense in the moment.
At any given time, if you were to walk into my home while I’m working, you’d find me: in my bed, on the couch, at the kitchen counter, at my desk, or on my patio.
And chances are, I haven’t been there all day.
Test Your Work From Home Environment, and Switch It Up
The recommendation I CAN make is to test what works for you.
And that doesn’t mean it’ll be the same every day (or every hour), once you find what “works.”
Some days, lounging on the patio with your laptop in the sunshine might get your creative juices flowing.
Other days, your Zoom call might mean showering, caffeinating and tidying your workspace by 8am.
Roll with it.
Roll with your kids’ schedules.
Roll with meeting times and deadlines.
Roll with your partner claiming the home office, while you take your laptop to the kitchen.
Test what works for you, so you’ll have a handful of possibilities when your home environment can’t be just-so.
Flexibility will get you everywhere.
Don’t Stress About the Perfect Work-From-Home Schedule
We all have different home lives.
We have unique opportunities and schedules and personal needs and obligations.
And one (or ten) blanket tips for the best way to work from home isn’t going to possibly apply to the masses. To ALL OF US.
Now is not the time to add another set of standards you have to meet at home.
We’ve all got enough going on with navigating at-home schooling, socially-distanced grocery shopping, face mask-wearing, virtual meetings…
So stay in your leggings.
Or rock the half-and-half (blazer above, pj’s below).
Or shower, dress, shave and head to the home office in your best victory suit.
In my many years of working from home, I’ve done all of the above.
Being flexible allows me to focus on the task at hand, not what I’m anxious I SHOULD be doing.
So leave your desk a mess. Or clean it up.
Turn on calming music. Or work in silence.
Take a walking break. Or take a shower break.
You do YOU when it comes to working from home, and –don’t worry — this new way of life will fall into place.
Don’t stress about it, and don’t feel guilty if your schedule doesn’t fit into a Pinterest-worthy check box.
Nobody’s really does.
Have fun finding what works for you, your family, and your home.
I for one am virtually cheering you on from my desk, in my gym clothes, sipping tea, and tuning out the sounds my kids fighting on the rug.
To each their own:)