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Working at Home: How to Stay Productive & Healthy

March 18, 2020
  1. Carve out a dedicated work space. Whether it is a separate room, a separate corner of a room, or a separate corner of a table, identify it as your special place to work. Clear off non-work papers and items and put them somewhere else. Signal to your family that when you’re at that spot, you’re working.
  2. Stick to a schedule. Maintaining your work schedule and routine can help you feel grounded and stay productive. Start working when you usually start working and stop working when you usually stop working. Take breaks and walk, move around, do a down-dog, get some air. Take a lunch break, preferably away from your work space. Even if you normally eat lunch at your desk, it’s better not to do so when you’re working from home. At the end of the work day, shut down your computer and clean up your work space.
  3. Get dressed in the morning. Don’t succumb to the urge to work in pajamas surrounded by fluffy pillows and blankets.
  4. Communicate, communicate and communicate some more. Give and ask for clear deadlines and regularly check in with everyone with whom you’re working. Be sure to be in touch at least once a day, preferably twice, and more often if needed. Don’t let a full day go by during which you haven’t checked in even if you’re cruising along and don’t have any questions or something in particular to convey.
  5. Communicate with your family too. Check in on how things are going and what changes you should make to continue to work at home peacefully. (As I write this, I’m closing my home office door so I can’t hear my husband’s peloton instructor urging him on.) In addition, keep work talk to a minimum with your family – they’re likely dealing with their own work drama and you want to be a respite for each other.
  6. Maintain your usual exercise and eating habits. The best way to use the extra time you’re saving by not having to commute is to take of yourself.
  7. Be gentle with yourself and especially kind to others. We’re all living with uncertainty and degrees of fear. It will take some time to adjust. Finding ways to work at home productively will be a process of trial and error so try to be patient.

Here’s a fascinating piece of history that shows how productive one can be while working at home:

Sir Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author widely recognized as one of the most influential scientists of all times. He had obtained his BA degree in August 1665 when his university temporarily closed as a precaution against the Great Plague. Although he had been undistinguished as a Cambridge student, Newton's private studies at his home in Woolsthorpe over the subsequent two years saw the development of his theories on calculus, optics, and the law of gravitation.