With social distancing in full effect, a lot of us will be working from home for the foreseeable future. Whether you’re living alone or with others, in a large house or a tiny condo, it can be challenging to stay focused and motivated throughout the day. Here is some advice to help you get situated and build a foundation to thrive in your new working environment.
Create a Designated Workspace
If you don’t already have one, now is a good time to create a designated workspace in your home. Avoid working where you sleep or eat if possible. Natural light can be very helpful, as long as there is no glare on your computer screen. Be mindful of storing confidential files or other physical materials in a safe place. Most importantly, remember to distance yourself from that space when you’re taking breaks and, most importantly, once you’re done working for the day.
Maintain a Routine and Make a To-Do List
It’s easy to roll out of bed and work from home in your pajamas. However, try to stick with elements of your normal workday routine, including maintaining a regular bedtime, setting an alarm to wake up, getting dressed for work, having lunch, and taking breaks during the day. I’ve opted for a comfy alternative to pajamas (hello, Roots sweatpants!), but others suggest changing into office attire. Maintaining a routine is a small step that can make a big difference in your productivity for the day.
Writing a daily to-do list is helping me stay organized and focused while working from home. I’m already losing track of what day it is and I’m sleeping, eating, exercising, and working under one roof, so everything is blending together. To-do lists keep me on track to attaining my goals during the work day and checking items off the list is very satisfying.
Stay in Touch
Many of us are used to daily social interaction at the office with colleagues and/or clients, so working from home can feel very lonely and isolating (even with kids or significant others at home with you). Consider alternatives to e-mail to keep in touch. Pick up the phone for a quick call or arrange a video conference meeting. It can also be helpful to allocate time to check-in with the people that you work with, not only to discuss work, but their well-being.
Leverage the “Extra” Time in Your Day
How are you going to spend the time in your day that would otherwise be dedicated to commuting to and from the office? The possibilities are endless. You could read for pleasure, start a new show on Netflix, try a new recipe, write a blog post, do a puzzle, reconnect with someone in your network or make a new connection, listen to an uplifting podcast, learn a new skill or language, or maybe just enjoy a little extra sleep.
We have been inundated with news updates over the past couple of weeks and it can be stressful and overwhelming at times. Remain focused on your physical, emotional and mental well being. There’s no better time to turn inward and focus on what your body needs right now. Self-care can take many forms, and these are some of my favourites: avoiding excessive media coverage, facetiming with family members and friends, meditating, doing yoga, going for a run, and getting fresh air. I’ve also turned to Instagram Live for a lot of interactive content in recent days, including workout classes, impromptu concerts from my favourite artists, and even a daily 5PM dance party with 3,000 of my closest friends (all from the comfort of my home, of course).
Working from home can be challenging, frustrating, and isolating; however, it can also be flexible, productive, and cozy. Ultimately, the ability to work from home means that we are fortunate enough to have jobs that allow us to do so. Let’s be patient with the situation and support each other as we navigate this time of uncertainty. We will get through this together!
Authors: Ellen Dalicandro, Stikeman Elliott LLP
Ellen Dalicandro obtained her J.D. and Honours Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Ottawa in 2016 and 2013, respectively. Ellen is the Assistant Director of Talent Management at Stikeman Elliott LLP. Prior to her current role, Ellen was an associate in the corporate group at Stikeman Elliott where she practiced securities, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions and general corporate law. Ellen is a member of the Sponsorship Committee of Young Women in Law and Vice President of Mentorship of the Toronto Telfer Alumni Network.