Work From Home Tips for Sanity & Productivity

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

COVID-19 got you working remotely? Never considered WFH? We've got you covered!

Working from home can be a tough transition, especially if you didn't choose this type of work and had it sprung on you due to COVID-19. If you've spent your career going to an office where you have physical boundaries delineating work and home, it can be a big challenge to tackle working from home. Got kids? Even more to balance! We've got extra tips for parents at the bottom!

We collected some tips from our staff, a mix of WFH veterans, parents, and newbies, about how to be productive at home and maintain a healthy mindset while working in your living space.


Step One- Pause.

Truly pause. Just for a moment.

Breathe. Sit up straight. Roll your neck. Relax your shoulders. Breathe again.

If you're here because you're already frustrated, that's normal and understandable, so take a minute to accept your frustration and let it clear your head.

Step Two- Take a moment to feel grateful and be thankful.

"In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships." (1)

We are grateful that we are able to work from home, even if it is an abrupt adaptation. We are grateful for jobs and employers keeping us paid, to consumers and businesses keeping our businesses moving forward, and to each other for showing up.

Times are crazy. We just need to get through them. Not perfectly, just through. You got this.


Work From Home Basics

Setting Expectations

Regardless of why you're working from home, if this is an unexpected transition and/or you aren't well prepared to transition your work to remote work, this is an uncomfortable time for everyone. That's compounded if you have family living in the house with you, whether that's kids or parents or in-laws. More so if their lives are equally disrupted, or your caregivers' are and are unavailable.

Take time to take stock of your personal situation, list out everything that needs your time or attention in addition to work, and figure out what is reasonable. If there's anyone around who needs your time or attention during work hours, expect to cut your productivity in half. Don't set a high bar and fail to achieve it.

Setting realistic goals is critical to being successful working from home, and to feeling successful by meeting your goals.

Setting a Schedule

This can make or break your productivity working from home. It's important to schedule time for everything you just listed out, whether that's walking the dog, doing laundry, or a quiet hour when you can brainstorm ideas for your new project. Make sure you're including meal times, breaks, and the beginning and end of your day. Don't "work until you're done with your work or project," but rather be mindful of when you're working.

Owl Labs put out this easy WFH Scheduler app to help reserve time and space in advance. "Your office has systems in place to help with space management so you can reserve conference rooms and squat in phone booths when you need them. Odds are, your home does not. That's where Work from Home Scheduler comes in."

General Tips

Staff Pick: "Try the 52/17 Rule! It sounds random, but it's science-based."

-Kayla Morrissey, Small Business Owner, four years of WFH

Click to read the 52/17 Rule, to see what the hubbub is about, or check out the similar system with shorter periods of productivity and more frequent breaks, the Pomodoro technique.

Both utilize dedicated periods for focusing on work, with breaks to reset your brain, body, and concentration.

Schedule breaks. Every. Single. Day.

If you decide to try one of the methods above, you'll be scheduling your breaks in already, but if they aren't for you, it's still important to have dedicated time to put your work down. It's not time 'off' of work, but rather work you're doing to stay productive.

Stick to your schedule as much as possible. Whether it's daily or weekly, having a schedule helps you make sure you're allotting and spending enough time where you need to.

Create a dedicated work space. Using your kitchen table to work might seem okay in the short term, but trust the WFH vets here and find some space just for working. It sucks to clean up your 'desk' to eat dinner, and just as much to set everything up again each morning. Now's the time to clean off that desk that's been collecting mail for thirteen months :)

Portion your snacks! It's easy to grab a bag of chips and sit down, and just as easily, poof! There they all went. Portion your snacks to curb over-eating and boredom-eating. A bowl reminds you to stop when you finish, before you finish a mega portion (aka the whole bag).

Stop working at the end of your day. If possible, close the door to your work space, but at minimum you close your laptop. This seems like common sense to some, but some never-stop-working folk have to work harder on boundaries now that work is inside the home. Just because you could respond to that email you saw on your screen on your way to the bathroom, doesn't mean you should respond. Whatever schedule you set for yourself, try to stick to it. Trust that you have given yourself enough time to do everything during those hours, and don't work outside of them.

Ditch your commute (time). This is one of the best perks, whether your commute was five or fifty five minutes. Remember that this is not work time, so use this as more time for yourself or your family. A walk outside for some fresh air, if possible, is a great substitute that gets you moving and still cues your brain up for 'work-time' the way your commute used to do.

Expect some technical issues. Things will not go 100% to plan, because when do they ever? Breathe, call your tech support, and take a walk or listen to some music if you get overwhelmed.

If needed, Zen provides On Demand Tech Support Services,

prices and online booking here, or call 720 547-1819.

General Reminders

Staff Pick: "Stretching does wonders, don't let yourself sit still all day!"

-Rebecca Burd, Office Manager, three years of WFH

  • Default to 'mute' on conference calls, 'un-mute' to participate

  • Movement is important! You probably don't have as many reasons to stretch your legs working at home, so make sure you are scheduling time to get away from your work and screens.

Stretch, dance, walk, skip, do push-ups, jumping jacks, whatever gets your blood flowing! Get away from your desk for at least five minute breaks!

  • Don't forget greetings and sign offs/signatures in your emails

  • Keep it professional- you are still working, even if it's a relaxed environment at home

Work From Home Q & A

Q: Can I work from my bed?