Idaho, Iowa, and North Dakota

How to Handle Working From Home During COVID

April 1, 2020

So many areas of the world are encouraging social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and for a lot of people this means working remotely from home. For a lot of people, working from home is new, and quite an adjustment.  

In case you’re a new reader, I’m an online therapist. This means that I provide counseling services entirely online, and I’ve been doing my work entirely online for over a year now. I’ll admit, it took some time for me to get used to working from home, especially because traditionally the kind of work I do isn’t done online. But over the past year, I’ve really come to love working from home and I wanted to share with you some of the things that I’ve learned during my own personal journey, so that hopefully you can adjust to your own remote work situation.  

  1. Create a regular schedule with a clear end time for the day. Creating a regular schedule not only helps my family know when I’ll be working, it also helps me be able to focus more when I’m sitting down at my computer. When setting your own schedule, it doesn’t matter what the schedule looks like, just make it something you can stick to so you know that certain times are working hours and certain times are personal hours. Without a schedule in mind, it’s too easy to blur the lines of work and personal time.
  2. Actually get ready for the day. This goes in line with the idea of creating a regular schedule. If we spend all day in our pjs day in and day out, we aren’t going to feel that great about ourselves. So get up, shower, do your hair and wear nicer clothes. It’ll help you feel ready to work.
  3. Create a work space. I know that this can be really hard right now, because not everyone has been expecting to work from home, and not everyone has a lot of free space available. But this doesn’t have to be a home office, it can be the corner of a table or a section of a desk. This idea again helps you create a distinction between work space and personal space. If there’s a distinct place you go to in order to work, it helps keep you in the proper mindset to get work done.
  4. Identify possible distractions and figure out ways to minimize those distractions. Let’s be honest, working from home has a ton of distractions. Not only that, but you have to be pretty motivated when you’re working from home, because there isn’t a boss looming over you. How we handle our distractions will be different for each distraction. The solution might be headphones or shifting your work schedule to the evenings so your significant other can watch the kids while you focus. The idea is to be aware of the things that steal your attention and do what you can to distance yourself from them.  
  5. Ignore social media. I could have included this with the distractions part, but it’s big enough to get its own category. Social media is a huge time sink. It may not seem like much because it’s only five minutes here and five minutes there, but all of that time adds up and it really isn’t helping you get your work done. Leave it closed and only check in after you finish the day.
  6. Allow yourself to take breaks. There’s a lot of value in taking breaks. I’m a big fan of the pomodoro method, where you work for twenty minutes, then take a five minute break. We can only work for so long, so taking small breaks helps us feel refreshed.  Just make sure that you aren’t using breaks as an excuse to avoid your work. You’ll probably be able to tell if this is what’s happening, when your breaks start to get longer and longer.
  7. Start with something small. One thing that really helped me when I started working from home was starting my day with a smaller, easy task. I noticed that once I finished that task, I felt accomplished, and that helped me get going on the rest of my duties for the rest of the day.  
  8. Match your music to what you’re doing. If you’re trying to be productive, don’t play slow music. Video game soundtracks are great background music for when you’re trying to be productive, because they’re meant to be played during intense moments and don’t have lyrics that can distract us. The music we choose impacts our mood, so choose music that can help you feel productive.

These are small things that I’ve learned since I’ve been working from home that have really helped me, so I hope they can help you. Share in the comments how you guys feel about working from home and how you guys are dealing with the change.

Meet the author

Danielle Wayne

Danielle is an anxiety therapist. She specializes in helping busy millennials manage their anxiety so they can perform at their best. Danielle has been featured on Apartment Therapy, SparkPeople, Lifewire, and Now Art World. When Danielle isn't helping her clients, she's playing video games or spending time with her partner and step children.

Learn more about Danielle

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