Tips for Working from Home Full-Time (in the middle of a lockdown)

Let’s talk a little about working from home, especially if you are just now adjusting to this idea based on local shutdowns in your community.

Over the past two weeks, the coronavirus outbreak has gone from dozens of people with the virus, to thousands.

I live in California, one of the worst 3 states in the US to get hit, but it isn’t even close to the amount of people in China and Italy who have been affected.

I hope you are all safe and healthy – and have enough toilet paper. If you have more than enough, make sure your neighbors have enough? Sharing is caring. 

I know quite a lot of people are taking time off from their day jobs right now, whether because of self-isolation, kids being out of school, or because your place of business has shut down. Whatever the reason, you might not be used to working from home full-time. 

The good news is, working from home is awesome. The bad news is, it’s also kind of terrible. I have been doing it for almost 10 years and while I can’t even imagine what it would be like working outside the house again, there are definitely some challenges. 

Keep in mind these are tips based on my own experiences and circumstances. Take them with a grain of salt on the rim of the margarita you’re probably day drinking right now to deal with the stress and anxiety of running out of hand soap before the store has restocked.

How to (Kind of) Survive Working from Home Full-Time

1. Don’t Day Drink. All jokes aside, it is a terrible idea. Have I done it? Yes. Might I do it again? Probably. And yeah, you might love that “Write Drunk, Edit Sober” quote from Ernest Hemingway, but do you know what’s hard to do when you’re drunk at 11am? Write. And work. And answer customer service emails. And do literally anything. 0/10 recommend.

2. Don’t Get Dressed if You Don’t Want to. I know. Everyone is going to tell you to get up when you normally would, take a shower, get dressed like you’re going to the office, have a dedicated workspace, blah blah. If you think that will help, by all means do it. But I rarely do. 

I get dressed just enough to be able to take my dogs out without embarrassing my neighbors. That means put on a bra, and make sure I’m wearing pants. 

I think the most important thing is to be comfortable. Maybe for you that means wearing your pajamas, or changing into your daytime yoga pants (hello, best friend, me too!), or wearing jeans like some kind of savage. You do you! 

3. Keep Your Phone in Another Room. Oh, the cell phone. Literally the most distracting thing on the planet. Not barking dogs, not screaming kids, not even your neighbors deciding 6am on a Saturday is an awesome time to mow their lawn. Your phone is what is going to keep you from getting any work done. 

Don’t just turn it off. Don’t just flip it over and promise yourself you won’t look – we all know you will. It will buzz even if the ringer is off, the notifications will be pinging all damn day, and it’s really hard to resist. 

Just leave it plugged in, in a different room where it’s seen and not heard. Trust me. Stop shaking your head. You will survive a few hours without it, I promise.

4. Find Your Optimal Working Hours. You probably already know what they are. Think about when you are in the office and are most productive, or when you tend to get a burst of energy at your retail job. Or when you feel the most creative while working at home. It doesn’t matter what your job was before switching to working from home – you have certain times of the day when you get more done. 

Take advantage. I have given this tip a million times before, and I will keep doing it. I have gone from being a night owl to a morning person, because I figured out within the first couple years of working from home that my ideal focus time is about 5am to noon. That’s it. I get almost nothing done the rest of the day, because my brain refuses to let me. 

Adjust your schedule so that you can (hopefully) work during those optimal hours, no matter when they are. 

5. Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-Care. I kind of hate how trendy this phrase is, but I do think it’s extremely important for all freelancers, entrepreneurs, and especially people who might be new to working from home full-time. I could easily write a book about this, but here are just a few things I personally do for self-care:

  • Sing to Play with my dogs.
  • Go for a walk (it counts as social distancing when you’re really good at avoiding other people). 
  • Read.. like real books. The old-fashioned ones made from PAPER. I know. Crazy. 
  • Listen to NOT podcasts. If you like podcasts, that’s probably ok. I try to avoid them like the plague coronavirus.
  • Close my computer and do literally anything else. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself.

*I didn’t leave the tip of making sure you get out of the house and talk to people so you don’t get sofa butt, but right now it’s not a super practical tip. I do think fresh air is good for you though. If you’re on quarantine, just open your window and stick your head out. I think that’s allowed? 

That’s all I think. I probably missed no less than 10 thousand good tips, but my brain is currently experiencing information overload from all the news. 

I think I’ll go wash my hands again.