From the time I graduated back in 2016, working from home has been an integral part of my life. I started my career as an entrepreneur managing a remote team of three out of a tiny 350 sqft LA studio. Once I moved back to NY, I worked as a Content Manager for IVY that quickly turned remote as well. With four years of remote work experience, I’m here to share with you my top tips to survive working from home. And to all those extroverts out there, the last point will be oh so valuable to you! But don’t peek!
1. Have a dedicated workspace
This has to be the number one piece of advice I would give to anybody who is just starting to work remotely. Sure the idea of working from your warm bed sounds like a dream, but trust me, it’s like being sucked into a black hole. Soon you’ll find yourself waking up right before work starts, grabbing your laptop and sitting in your own grime for days, only getting up to eat and shower. If you lived in a tiny LA studio as I did, where the fridge was steps away from your bed, good luck. Those were dark times.
Also, make sure your workspace is for work only. If you need to utilize a living space like a kitchen table as an office, make sure to set it up in the morning and clean it off at the end of the day. Why? Because this gives you a way to keep healthy boundaries between work and personal life. Without it, you’ll end up checking email during dinner or working way past your scheduled work hours. Don’t do that, respect your time and your personal life.
2. Wake up at a consistent and normal hour
This one goes hand in hand with my first point. Please, please do not wake up minutes before work starts. I’ll be honest, I still do this sometimes, and I’m sure you’ll all do it at some point too or have already, but it’s a horribly unhealthy way to start the day. You’ll run low on energy quickly without food or coffee. Build a morning routine that helps you feel energized and motivated for the day.
3. Have good grooming habits
Now about that morning routine. Yes, it’s comfortable to work in a hoodie and sweats, and frankly, no one will care unless you’re on an important call. But here’s the thing, whenever I put a little more effort into how I look in the morning — maybe I put on some jeans, or a stylish shirt, or just brush my hair instead of putting it up in a messy bun — I feel ten times better about myself, more confident and more motivated. Along with healthy grooming habits, make sure you eat, stay hydrated, and stretch because you’ll be spending an ungodly number of hours on your bum.
Take a walk and get some fresh air to get the blood flowing back to your brain. If you can’t go outside for whatever reason, take a stroll around your living room! Stand up and stretch, do some yoga, or exercise during your breaks. If you don’t move, you’ll end up like me, having to go to a chiropractor because at 25 I’ve got all the back problems of a 70-year-old. While we’re on that topic, maybe invest in a good office chair. I’ve been sitting on a hard stool for four years and just bought my boyfriend a comfy office chair, which I’ve already been tempted to steal. It really makes all the difference for your body! And will probably be the most critical piece of office equipment you’ll ever have.
5. Stay connected <– Extroverts this one is for you!
This is extremely important when it comes to working from home. It’s surprisingly easy to become isolated from coworkers, friends, and the world around you when you spend 90% – 100% of your day at home with your nose buried in your work. A great way to stay connected with your coworkers is to have video hangouts during your breaks. Staying active on Slack or other intranet tools is another excellent way to keep the company culture from slipping away. Have a “watercooler” channel and share things about the news, cool stuff you see online, or funny gifs. Let it be a place for you to stay connected and laugh a little.
Besides staying connected with your colleagues, it’s also necessary to stay connected with the outside world. I absolutely LOVE listening to podcasts while I work. They can be a great way to learn new things or to stay connected with your favorite entertainers or the news.
Here are some of my favorite podcasts:
- “The Mustards“: a satirical podcast featuring a vegan, minimalist couple who chats about their lifestyle and current pop culture events. Their podcast comes out every Monday to help you start off your week with some positivity, and to remind you of their core philosophy “Monday morning when all the possibilities are possible.”
- “The Remarkable Leap“: a podcast by my former coworker and good friend Juliette Lin, where she interviews entrepreneurs and artists regarding their leaps of faith into their unconventional works of passion. She most recently interviewed Jason Lee, CEO of the Jubilee Project!
- IVY Learning: an online webinar series designed to magnify your career, life, and success led by incredible world-renowned thought leaders who speak on everything from How to Become a Published Author to How to Lead with Emotional Intelligence During COVID-19.
I hope that all these tips helped you stay productive during your time working remotely. To learn more about How to Master Remote Work: Critical Lessons from Remotely Leading 1,200 Colleagues, check out this IVY Digital Event led by Matt Mullenweg, the CEO of Automattic (WordPress and Tumblr).