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Working from Home for the First Time?

Advice from 13 years of practice

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We’re in unprecedented times. Most of us, with the grace of technology and innovation, have been told to work from home due to COVID-19. I’ve had a home office since 2007 when I launched my event planning and consulting company. Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way.

  • Find a space in your home you can dedicate to work. Preferably one with a door you can close and walk away from at the end of your workday. My first home office was an extra bedroom, but now it is in our basement. A kitchen table works too – I’ve been known to take over whole parts of my house for client projects.

  • Find the most comfortable office-type chair you own. You’ll be sitting in one place for a while, and I’ve learned the hard way that my kitchen chairs aren’t designed for 8 hours of continual use.

  • Create a routine or schedule to try to follow. I have a routine that I have tweaked over the years, but it goes something like this: Coffee, read my devotional, business reading for 10 minutes, 10 minutes of journaling, then review my most important tasks. I also light a candle or diffuse essential oils as part of my morning routine. and play music that helps me focus and stay productive. It helps tell my brain that it’s time to get to work.

  • It takes a lot of self-discipline and focus. I remember when I first started my company – every cluttered drawer was suddenly calling out to me to be rearranged. I use the Pomodoro Technique – work for 25 minutes on a task and then take a 5-minute break. You can get a lot done around the house in those 5-minute breaks. I set the timer on my phone and only work on one project until I get it finished, even if it takes a few rounds of Pomodoros to get it completed.

  • Working from home can be isolating and lonely. Zoom video chats with my biz owner friends from around the country and FaceBook Groups of colleagues keep me connected and building relationships. Schedule a virtual happy hour on Zoom or Google Hangouts so you can see your friends in real-time. Chat tools like Slack can connect you to your co-workers and eliminate the need for a bunch of emails.

Have kids at home while you’re trying to work? My husband and I are splitting the day to referee our kids and *try* to keep them off screens as much as possible. I’m also planning to give them projects to work on with the same Pomodoro method. This is new territory for all of us, so I’m also working on having patience and grace with everyone around me.

What are your best work-from-home tips? Share in the comments below!

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Christy Wolff on Monday 03/16/2020 at 11:58AM wrote:

Thank you for the helpful guide, Sheila!

Once I prioritize a list, I find starting to tackle the toughest task first gives me momentum to be more productive—with the less challenging to-dos serving as a reward.

Gina DiNovo Studer on Tuesday 03/17/2020 at 04:00PM wrote:

Great tips Sheila! Let me know if you have any comfy office chair recommendations :) One thing that helps me is to screen personal calls while I'm working. This may sound harsh but if it's urgent (which it rarely is), I'll call them right back. With the kids home, I'm encouraging brain breaks and recess time. At school there are many transitions throughout the day, so we have to have to replicate their routine as best as we can. Good luck to all the work from home moms!

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