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By Chas Barrie, SAIL Advocate
March 24, 2019

Results of the first week of me working at home:

The Covid-19 virus has definitely forced everyone into what may best be described as a brave new world. As I begin this strange new journey, I realize that I’m not alone. With that thought in mind, I decided to write this blog on tips I have found and my approach to working from home.

I should state that I suspect, like the majority of people thrown into this situation, home offices from the get-go can be a challenge. I’m no expert in this field but necessity is the mother of invention. The tips I have found and what seems to be working for me may help others.

It was somewhat of a surprise to find so many websites and blogs out there giving advice on working from a home office. A few of these sites have been included in this article, but again there are only a few listed but there are many more and a variety of tips and suggestions are included.

1.  Choose a dedicated work space.
Despite what your spouse may think, the garage may not be the best place for your home office. The space you select should be comfortable, of course, with internet access and a space where you are able to spread your work out as needed. It should be a space where you can work undisturbed but this could be a relative term if you have a spouse and family.

Choose a comfortable chair, or maybe get rid of the chair all together.  Try to create a soothing environment, but remember this is a space set aside specifically for work.

  • Pretend you are going into the office. (because you are)

This tip has been found on many websites and for me it seemed to be the most logical. I get up the same time as always and start my day the same as usual. It seems reasonable to believe that to get a good routine working from home takes time planning and practice. Erik Devaney suggests: “The mental association you make between work and an office can make you more productive, and there’s no reason that feeling should be lost when telecommuting”.

When working from home, do all the things you’d do to prepare for an office role: Set your alarm, make (or go get) coffee, and wear nice clothes.

  • Plan out what you’ll be working on ahead of time.

It has been found that it is help to take the last 5 or 10 minutes of your working time to prepare a list or schedule of what you hope to work on the next day. Setting goals for the next day will help keep you organized. You may need to share expectations with anyone who will be home with you.

  • Get started early, get showered and dressed as if you’re going to the office. (don’t forget breakfast)

Using your former routine will help you to create good, productive habits at your new home office.

  • Make it harder for you to mess around on social media.
    Remove any desktop icons you may have for social media. Remember, just like working in a business office there needs to be a certain amount of discipline.

  • Use laundry as a work timer.

In his blog, Erik Devaney suggests: “Doing your laundry is a built-in timer for your home. So, use the time to start and finish something from your to-do list before changing the load. Committing to one assignment during the wash cycle and another during the dry cycle can train you to work smarter on tasks that you might technically have all day to tinker with.”

  • Match your music to the task at hand.

This may be a matter of taste, but for me “hair bands” and “head banger music” doesn’t work. Try to keep it relaxing and enjoyable. I tend to work best with music, but be careful not to lose yourself in it.Keep the kitchen stocked with healthy snacks and meals.
For me this is a no-brainier. Hot Dogs, Chunky Bars, and of course Jelly Beans are a must. Now this is my choice, but I doubt my spouse or many others will be going along with these selections. Schedule workouts.
Although with the onset of Covid-19 and the rules for sheltering in place, there is no reason you can’t still work at home or go for a walk. Just keeping in mind a 6 foot separation. A little fresh air and exercise is good not only for the body but the mind as well.

Technology. For many who are working from home, they are now forced to deal with IT, that weird world of computer technologies. Remember to be kind to your Tech specialist, at this point they have their hands full and you and the tech need to have tolerance for each other. You may have to learn brand new terminology.

Be realistic
If your children are constantly demanding your attention and crayons, coloring books or an IPad isn’t keeping them busy while you work, remember you are the main attraction for your little ones.

In today’s world, it is easy to become sidetracked during work hours. Your phone, emails, text messages and social media or even a sudden idea that pops in to your head, just to name a few. We are all bombarded with distractions.
Give it a rest. (Working at home with children)
Allison Martin in her article writes: ”Are the kids driving you up the wall with constant interruptions because they desperately seek your attention? Rid yourself of any internal guilt and take a break! Take them on a bike ride, have a fitness competition, watch a movie, bake cookies, take a walk, or simply play catch. Regardless of the activity you choose, they will be grateful and stay out of your way when work resumes (fingers crossed).”

Be Flexible.
Make the most of your time by using it as a window of opportunity to tie up any loose ends or get a head start on forthcoming projects.

Pat yourself on the back.
Balancing children and a full workload is beyond difficult, but it can be done. According to Allison Martin: “Regardless of how you wind down, make time to pamper yourself on occasion to avoid burning out and crashing into a mental brick wall from work overload.”
Rid yourself of internal guilt and take a break.

Unsolicited help.
On a personal note, although our pets can be pests at times, they have the ability to sense when we are stressed and tense. It

My cat helping me

may be annoying but they can be a stress reliever and soothing.

Don’t be afraid to take a little time with them. They need you as much as you need them.

I am not claiming this article is the answer to all your home office feelings of being overwhelmed or anxious. There are a number of sites on the web with tips on adjusting to a home office. Please keep in mind, these are unique times and you may have to modify these tips accordingly, but they can be helpful.


 Devaney, Erik. (2020). How to Work From Home: 20 Tips From People Who Do It Successfully. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/productivity-tips-working-from-home

Withers, Natasha. (2015). 12 Tips to Stay Healthy While Working From Home. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/243589

Martin, Allison. (2017). 17 Strategies to Survive Working From Home With Children. https://www.thesimpledollar.com/make-money/17-strategies-to-survive-working-from-home-with-children/

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