Tips & Tricks for Working at Home

(A doodle from my sketchbook archives.)

The caronavirus has thrown a lot of us off-balance. As the owner of my own studio I’ve been working from home for over two decades. Suddenly some of you may be finding yourselves working from home too. I thought I’d share a few tips that have helped me and that might make your quarantine go a little easier:

1. Set some boundaries. Designate a physical space that is your “work zone”, preferably a part of the house that is away from distractions like family, TV, etc. Bonus points if you can be near a window for some soothing natural light. Pick a start time and a stop time for your work day and stick to it. If possible let other family members know you are not to be interrupted during those times. Having a designated “work zone” also gives you something to walk away from at the end of the day which can help put work out of your mind during your off hours.

2. Invest in some good headphones. They can help you focus by shutting out the distractions around you. You can also catch up on podcasts or audiobooks while you work.

3. Get dressed. When you work at home it might be tempting to stay in your PJ’s all day. That’s fun for a while but I’ve found it can affect my productivity. If I’m in my “comfy clothes” I sometimes work a little more leisurely, am more prone to distractions, and even take more breaks. But when I go to the trouble of dressing properly I feel more professional and I get more done.

4. Log your hours. This might seem silly at first but it works. Jot down the time whenever you start working and again when you stop, including breaks. Breaks and distractions can eat into your day more than you realize, especially at home. Seeing the hard numbers in black-and-white makes you realize how much (or little) you are actually getting done. It can also help you to know when it’s time to finally quit for the day.

5. With great power comes great responsibility. Working at home comes with some nice perks. Enjoy them! You have the freedom to set your own hours. You can take breaks whenever you feel like it. You can eat lunch in your own dining room and relax on your own couch during breaks. You can run errands in the middle of the day when traffic is lighter and there are fewer lines at the checkout. Just remember the work still has to get done. When taking a break give yourself a time limit and then get right back to the grind. Your future self will thank you for not making you stay up late to get caught up.

6. Eat healthy. Some people are more prone to overeating than others but personally this is a struggle for me. If I’m stressed or bored it’s easy to wander into the kitchen during a break to munch on a quick snack. Try to limit your munching to meal times only, and don’t forget to exercise. (OK. I’m done nagging.)

7. If necessary, bring in some help. The caronavirus has disrupted a lot of schedules and workflows. Even with hard work and the best intentions it’s easy to fall behind. If you have a looming deadline or just feel overwhelemed, reach out to an experienced freelance professional such as Yours Truly. We are used to getting calls from people in a bind. It’s what we do for a living. My personal approach is to tell you what I can realistically do given your time and budget, and then stick to it. If for some reason I can’t help you out I will try to recommend other creatives who can. Whatever your needs are, I’ll do my best to help you get the job done. More info here:

Enjoy your time at home. One way or another we are going to make it through this!