How to Survive Working from Home

In How to Work from Home, I shared lessons I’ve learned about staying productive when teams go remote. Working from home can impact more than just productivity, though. It can make me feel stagnant. Lethargic. Here are lessons I’ve learned about staying energized while I’m working from home.

Lesson #1: Dedicate a space for work.

Position yourself so you see a view that you only see when you’re in that space. It can be as simple as allocating a chair at the table facing the opposite direction as the chair where you eat. Don’t do anything except work in that space. Don’t work from anywhere except that space. The separation has helped me focus when I’m at work and relax when I’m not.

Lesson #2: Practice different personal habits when working.

For me, this means dressing business casual whenever I’m in my work space (ok, most of the time I’m in my work space). The basketball shorts stay in the closet until after dinner. This gives work a crisp feeling that distinguishes it from downtime.

Lesson #3: Don’t sit for long intervals.

It’s easy to sit all the time when you have a desk job. Working at home, it’s even worse. You don’t have to walk to the front to sign that form for HR. There’s no lunch group walking to the restaurant across the street. Nobody stands around in the break room chatting.

At home, I need replacements for the physical activity that office life used to create. I’ll walk a loop of streets near my house before lunch, do some lunges between emails, or stand in the kitchen doing dishes after each meal.

I’ve also noticed that even a tough workout doesn’t substitute for sitting all day. I can’t finish work, run for an hour, then plop on the couch. To stay energized, I have to move and stand throughout the whole day.

Lesson #4: Add color.

This is the most subjective habit I follow. It might not work for everyone. It worked so well for me that I figured it was worth sharing.

I was feeling cooped up this week, so I bought a bouquet of flowers and put them in my living room. I smiled a lot of times that day for no reason. A colorful print on the wall and a blue ink pen for the notepad on my desk have similar effects. Color makes the light feel brighter and the air seem fresher.

Enjoy skipping your commute!

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