Managing yourself when working from home: Ditch the typical advice!

Weeks into home office with your new "coworkers" all under the same roof, and work-from-home articles are taking over every platform. Here’s advice we think you should ditch to make this time at home as productive as possible.

It’s been several very long weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown with your new ‘co-workers’ all under the same roof for all hours of the day. Work from home articles are taking over every feed on your social media accounts and op-ed outlets. Read any of these articles, and you’ll see a ton of information on maximizing productivity, keeping a routine, and limiting distractions. Under normal circumstances, these tips would be useful for dominating the work-from-home life.

But this isn’t the typical flexible-work-as-usual scenario, so why would the usual insights apply?

Here’s advice we think you should ditch to make this time at home as productive as possible.

The standard 9 to 5 routine

You may be wondering just how you’re supposed to work productively when everyone else is also at home with you. Between dueling conference calls, homeschooling children, and the family dog that is always begging for his daily walk, you find yourself getting pulled in a thousand different directions. Some days there may be a routine to the madness, but other days, that routine goes directly out the window from the moment you wake up.

Note: this is actually okay.

Your new schedule needs to take into account everyone who is living under your same roof. This may mean alternating working times with your spouse or roommates, so you can accommodate all those video conference calls now filling up your calendar.

Pro-tip: Are you an early bird? Or maybe you’re a night owl? Try taking full advantage of your peak productivity time to focus on your deep work. Bonus points if you can do it while others are still sleeping soundly.

The way you spend your commute to work

Do you usually spend your typical commute to or from the office catching up on emails on the train? Maybe it’s your time to listen to your favorite podcasts on the train. Or perhaps you spend your drive making phone calls you didn’t get to earlier in the day? Just because your new commute to the office now consists of walking down the hall, it doesn’t mean you need to start working the moment you wake up.

Pro-tip: Take this time you usually spend commuting and use it for something you enjoy doing, whether it is listening to your favorite podcast, or trying out one of the many streaming exercise programs that are now available on-demand.

Being a prompt and present communicator

Like most of us, your office and work computer are now located right down the hall. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to be connected 24/7. We have all assumed new or modified roles in the past few weeks, and we are still trying to figure out how to juggle all of our tasks from a distance. Make sure to go easy on yourself, and allow for an intentional disconnect between your work and home life, which happen to be in the same vicinity.

Pro-tip: If you find yourself stress-checking your phone every time it pings, try turning off real-time notifications and only checking these alerts at set times. (If a teammate or loved one needs to get a hold of you, they can always call!)

Your normal dress code

In those WFH articles mentioned above, we guarantee there was at least one that advised you to follow your regular morning routine: shower, shave or put on make-up, get dressed, etc. However, anyone who has ever worked from home a day in their life can vouch that you can be just as productive in PJs or comfy sweats as you might be in your typical business-casual attire.

Pro-tip: And for all those daily video calls on your calendar, try following a news anchor dress code and focus on grooming the upper half of your body.

The point is when it comes to all the advice out there on how to manage yourself and your workday when everyone is home, the typical rules don’t apply. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that can apply to everyone’s situation. Your regular schedule still may work, or perhaps you’ll need to shift your routine on a day-to-day basis. No matter where you stand, find the happy medium that will enable you to still be productive while maintaining your sanity.

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