Whether working from home is a blessing or a struggle or somewhere in between, here to help is a year of inspiration, practical advice, and upbeat motivational tips. Daily suggestions touch upon ergonomics, loneliness, self-motivation, circadian rhythms, cybersecurity, digital communications, and getting along with partners and roommates. Some tips speak specifically to parents, others to managers; some to pet owners, others to young professionals. Overall, the calendar comes alongside the person working from home, providing support and a strong sense of community.
Here’s a set 12 working-from-home tips for starters. Share your experience to help steer content in future WFH calendars. (Your email won’t be shared or used for any other purpose.) Thank you!
1. CHOOSE YOUR FOOTWEAR
If there’s anything good about working from home, it’s being able to wear whatever you want on your feet. Sneakers, slippers, cozy socks, loafers, flip-flops, or nothing at all! There are longterm advantages to this freedom, especially for those who would ordinarily wear high heels to the office, high heels being one of the biggest causes of foot problems. Enjoy this small but significant perk and make yourself comfortable.
2. TURN YOUR HEAD
Assuming you spend a lot of time at your desk, the people you live with are probably tired of looking at the back of your head. Try to keep this from becoming a problem. Do your best to turn around and look at everyone you’re speaking with. If you are in a heavy work phase, make plans to catch up later with those who are closest to you. Let people know you care about them, especially when the time you have with them is limited.
3. ADD INTEREST TO YOUR SPACE
It’s up to you to make your workspace interesting. You may not have room for a pool table, but there are fun items you can keep nearby to use as fidget toys and to engage the creative side of your brain. One suggestion is modeling clay. Get the kind that doesn’t harden so you can roll it into balls, then squash it down and make a dinosaur, then squash it down again to form tidy cubes, or whatever else you fancy. It’s like doodling in 3D! It also strengthens finger muscles and provides relief from repetitive hand movements.
4. MASTER MIDDAY WORKOUTS
The most wonderful thing about working from home is the freedom to have a workout in the middle of the day, followed by a shower in your own bathroom. You may not want to do this every day, but particularly on days when you feel sluggish, there’s nothing like a workout to quicken your mind and make you feel better. Depending on weather and time, here’s the guide I follow. If you don’t already have an exercise plan, give it a try.
WITH A 5-MINUTE BREAK: Dance like crazy or do sit-ups and planks
15-MINUTE BREAK: Yoga with online video
30-MINUTE BREAK: Jog or walk around the neighborhood
60+ MINUTES: Bike ride
5. HAVE REAL TIME TALK
If it’s been four hours since you last talked with someone, instead of sending another text or email, pick up the phone and use your voice. A remarkable study by Princeton University determined through brain scans that our brains actually synchronize with the person we’re talking with during unrehearsed, real-time conversations. Working from home, a simple phone call can provide the camaraderie you need to keep going.
6. KEEP A LIGHT ON
Carelessly leaving lights on wastes energy, and yet, when working from home, a dark place can feel dismal, affecting your mood and productivity. I suggest keeping the kitchen light on. The kitchen should be welcoming and open for business, so to speak, whenever a person needs a snack. With energy-saving bulbs, leaving a light on in the house for a cheerier environment seems entirely acceptable, especially since we’re saving a great deal of energy by not driving to work every day.
7. SET BOUNDARIES
A workspace in a home shared with others needs boundaries. It’s really annoying, for example, when someone interrupts your workflow because they can’t find the cheese in the fridge. Consider making certain hours in the morning or afternoon off-limits, meaning that you don’t want to be contacted unless there’s an emergency. Kindly discuss your wishes with your housemates. Tell them if they leave you alone for a designated block of time, you’ll be more available to them the rest of the day.
8. SAY NO TO FOMO
When working from home, FOMO (Fear of missing out) is common, especially for young professionals who entered the workforce during the pandemic and have yet to spend time in a typical office. But don’t worry. Life is long. You’ll have job changes and maybe career changes. You’ll have a hearty variety of life experiences—not all at once, but over years. Significantly, the discipline and motivational skills you develop while working from home will make you all the more valuable in future positions.
9. TAKE A NAP, IF YOU WANT
People in cultures untouched by electricity sleep seven to eight hours at night, like most of us do, but they also take thirty- to -sixty-minute naps in the afternoon. Dr. Matthew Walker advocates powerfully for naps in his book, Why We Sleep. He explains how men living in parts of Greece where siestas are still intact are nearly four times more likely than American men to reach the age of ninety. So if you’re inclined to take a nap while working from home, you can have a clear conscious. Go for it! You’ll make up for it by working more effectively afterward.
10. EXCEL IN LEFTOVERS
People who have worked at home for years appreciate the importance of leftovers. Eating out options can be limited and sandwiches boring, but adding extra noodles and sauce to your dinner allows for a tasty lunch the next day. Get in the habit of making bigger dinners and setting aside portions for later. Oh, how nice it is to know you have a good lunch waiting for you!
11. SHARE AN OFFICE WITH CAUTION
If the love of your life also works at home with you, lucky you! Or maybe not. Every relationship has its unique ways. Maybe the two of you want to share the same desk, giving each other a big kiss whenever you feel like it. Or maybe the most healthy thing for your relationship is to be in separate corners of your home, coming together at night after you’ve put on a clean shirt and a smile. Discuss between yourselves. Be gracious as you figure it out. It could take some time.
12. STRETCH YOUR BACK
If you’re feeling achy and tense at your desk, you can do this simple but effective stretch without even getting out of your chair. Push your chair back from your desk, open your legs a bit and bend forward at the waist. Exhale as you hang your torso over your legs. Keep your neck soft and relaxed, letting your head drop comfortably. Take about five deep breaths, come back up, then repeat as needed.
To share your experience working from home, click here for a questionnaire. Your answers will help us with future calendars!