9 Working From Home Tips
A lot more people suddenly found themselves working from home after the public health emergency for COVID-19 was enacted. If you’ve never worked at home before, it can take some getting used to — especially when your family is home, too! For those of you who are working from home, here are some tips I’ve learned over the last 10 years that will keep you get through this difficult time:
- WORK MODE. Get up at a decent hour and get ready for your day just as if you are leaving home to go to work. Work clothes, makeup, hair, shoes — the whole thing. I know it’s tempting to work in your pajamas with your hair thrown in a messy bun since you don’t have to go anywhere, but trust me — don’t do it. By getting fully ready in the morning you will find you have more focus, energy, and ability to work consistently throughout your day. Save the pajama pants for casual Friday.
- MATCH IT. It’s important to keep your daily routine as close to what you did at the office as you can. You will be tempted to run laundry, answer phones, load the dishwasher, answer the door, check the news, and especially scroll social media — don’t. The more you give in to these seemingly tiny distractions here and there, the more you set yourself up for falling behind and not accomplishing your work for the day.
- YOU TIME. Take your usual breaks. I can’t stress this one enough. I’ve worked from home for over a decade now and I still struggle with balancing this. It becomes very easy to forget about breaks and moving around once you get in that “zone” of max production. Set alarms to remind you to take both breaks and lunch.
- LUNCHTIME. Light, low-carb, protein-based lunches are your best friend. Balance is key. If you eat a carb-heavy (or even moderate) lunch, you will be more prone to that after-lunch lull. Working from home makes it far too easy to give in and take a short nap on that comfy looking couch in your office or even sneak off to your bedroom to grab some snooze time.
Pro tip: Prep your meal the night before and pop it in the fridge until lunchtime. Putting together even a salad at home will take up more time than you realize when you’re “on the clock.” And do not eat at your desk while working — your brain needs the mental downtime as much as your body needs the food.
- MOVE IT! Get up and move regularly, even between breaks. Stretch, twist, bend, squat, or whatever you feel comfortable doing every hour on the hour (every half hour is even better if you can manage it). You don’t even have to leave your office/desk. Don’t forget – sitting is the new smoking – so get up and move frequently. Alarms can help with this as well. If you have a smartwatch or Fitbit, set the movement timer so even if you get busy, you’ll still be reminded to move.
- TIME MANAGEMENT. Block scheduling is fabulous. Set aside specific times for specific tasks if you have the flexibility to do so. Maybe you have calls to make or video meetings to host: set them up for the naturally less noisy times around your home (such as during nap time for little ones or while your spouse is napping on the couch). Instead of checking emails constantly, set aside three small blocks of time (first thing in the morning, immediately after lunch, and end of day) to send/return non-emergency emails. This will help you stay focused on your primary work tasks during the rest of the day.
- MULTITASKING. Putting 50 percent of your focus on any two things can only result in 50 percent effectiveness. That percentage goes down the more things you’re trying to juggle at once. See block scheduling above!
- CLOCK OUT. Whether you have a set end time, production amount to hit, or a physical clock in/out function for work – when you’re done, be done. Lines get blurred very easily when you work from home, both personally and professionally. When you’ve completed your work for the day, shut down your computer and walk away – the work will still be there tomorrow. Go spend some time with your family, cook and eat dinner together, do chores, or read a book – whatever your regular evening routine used to be when you worked outside the home.
- REACH OUT. Make sure you still interact with others during both your professional and personal time. While working, connect with colleagues via Teams, Zoom, or whatever group app your employer has chosen. During your personal time, call to check on family, text a friend, or reach out using your favorite social media. The last thing you want to do is burn out because you don’t have social time. The same wonderful inventions that allow you to work from home also allow you to socialize from home.
Welcome to club WFH! Where we’re crazy busy but also sometimes just a little crazy. We’re happy to have you join the team.
Crystal May, CCS, CPC is a medical coder/auditor with experience working in the healthcare information industry from a home office since 2010. She graduated from The Andrews School in 2017 and has experience with a variety of payers including Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial. She serves as a senior auditor for AAPC.
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