When I first started working from home, I felt a little overwhelmed with my change in routine. I wasn’t getting up at the same time, my work schedule depended on what was going on in the west coast office, and I didn’t feel like I had a real office. Instead of working with a good balance of healthy breaks, I felt like I was either working too much or not enough.
Now don’t get me wrong: there were things about it that were positive from the get go. I was saving hundreds of dollars per month because I didn’t have to pay for transportation and expensive River North lunches. I was exploring my neighborhood more, and using the time I would have spent on the train to work out.
But this post is about things that I wish I would have known when I started working from home.
1. Get a decent setup
I’ve been a remote worker for over 2 years, and I’m still adjusting my setup. Here is what I have so far:
- An ergonomic chair. It’s expensive, but saving your back is worth the money.
- A good VPN. You should protect yourself, and your employer, while you’re working from coffee shops and coworking spaces.
- A microphone headset. I only use it if I know I’m going to be speaking a lot, or pairing with someone.
- A small stand for your computer. I like my computer to be slightly raised. I bring it to coffee shops, so I’m not hunching over my computer when I work. Save your back!
- Headphones. When I’m working from a public place, putting on some music helps me stay on task. Also, if I have a shorter meeting where I’m not saying much, I’ll use these instead of a headset.
- A notebook that doubles as a whiteboard. I use a notebook that has sheets of dry erase board instead of sheets of paper.
2. Figure out where to work when you need to get out of the house
I took this shot yesterday while working at my favorite coffee shop in Chicago. It took me a lot of trial and error to figure out which coffee shops I liked to work in; some have better wifi than others, some have better coffee than others. Some are doing this trend where they “want people to socialize” instead of work. So they have small tables, and most people are socializing instead of working. That makes for a lot of noise and distraction. Others blast the music too loud. I
t will take some trial and error; you have to figure out what works for you. It’s better to sort these things out when you’ve first started a new remote job.
3. Set aside time for meaningful distractions
First of all, try and schedule in breaks beyond lunch. If you were working in an office, chances are you’d be forced into mini breaks here and there (thanks, open floor plans).
Secondly, make them meaningful. Even if it’s 15 minutes, just walking around and seeing trees makes a big difference in my day. It’s so easy to get caught up in working from home, and not leaving the house. I find that if I make it a point to be in nature, or speak with family and friends, it really makes a difference in my day.