By De Elizabeth
I have been working from home for almost six months now, and it’s safe to say that there are some things that I expected, others that I did not, and everywhere in between. Prior to spending every day in my home office, I spent every day in a classroom – and that’s a pretty big difference. When you go from being a student to being a teacher, your entire life revolves around an academic schedule: September to June, Monday to Friday, holidays, spring break, bells and structure. I have lived nearly all of my life on that schedule, so it’s probably not surprising that taking the leap to a “WFH” life is nothing short of a culture shock.
Now, as a full-time writer and editor, I make my own schedule. I no longer have bells that tell me to move on to the next thing, or a specific time that I have to go eat lunch. It’s good and bad and every shade of grey in the middle. Six months in, and I’ve learned a lot. Here are some of the takeaways so far.
1. Having a work space is so important.
One of the first things I did when I made the transition was establish a home office. And while I’m sometimes tempted to take my laptop in bed or on the couch (and I’ve done it from time to time), I usually force myself to stay in my office during work hours to promote consistency and productivity.
2. Getting out is essential.
When you commute, you inherently spend some portion of your day outside – whether that’s walking to the train, or through a parking lot, or down the street. When you work from home, your commute is essentially a hallway…and that can be detrimental if you’re not careful. I try to get to the gym every day and get outside as much as I can (which is getting easier now that the weather is improving, tbh).
3. It’s okay to take a break.
Because my days are substantially less structured than they were in my previous career, it’s hard to factor in pre-planned breaks or down time. But for my own mental health, I’ve understood that it’s okay to walk away from my laptop for 15-20 minutes and do something else. In fact, I always feel better after I take a few minutes of quiet time, especially during a busy day.
4. To-do lists are everything.
I’m the kind of person who will constantly think that I should be doing “more,” even if I’m already at maximum bandwith. And as a writer who is very much tied to the news cycle, it’s easy to get caught up in the feeling of needing to be working harder and faster, no matter how hard or fast I’m working already. I’ve found that it’s helpful to start every day with a list, and when I accomplish everything on that list, anything else is just extra or bonus. And, not going to lie, sometimes I’ll list a task that I’ve already done – just so I can cross it off.
5. Work clothes are overrated…
When I first started working from home, I pledged that I would get dressed in “work clothes” every day. Aaaaand I’m pretty sure that lasted like, one day. If I’m literally sitting at my desk all day at home, and the only person who is going to see me is my cat, I might as well rock the most comfortable pair of leggings that I own.
6. …But “getting ready” is not overrated.
Routines are a goldmine. Even though I spend Monday-Friday in leggings, I still work out, shower, wash my face, put on skin cream, and have breakfast every morning as if I were going to work. It helps differentiate the weekdays from the weekends, and it sets the tone for a productive day.
I mean, this is is the best part of working from home, right? It’s never not snack time. Amen.
Tell Us: Do you work from home? What are some of your favorite things about it?
This post was originally published on De’s website & blog.