Oh, Mary

WFH Tips from an Ex-Freelancer

March 18, 2020
Sam Schnabel

Sam is the newest addition to team Action Mary! Click here to learn fun facts about her. 

Stuck at home? Us too. But this isn’t your normal work-from-home day, not an “I’m not feeling so good, I think I’ll stay in” type of three-day weekend. No, we’re in this for the long haul, and some of us aren’t used to being stuck indoors for weeks on end. So here are some tips from my former freelancing days to stay productive and stay sane. 

1. Optimize your space for success

According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, habits are not formed on efforts alone. In fact, it’s your environment that encourages habits the most. The goal is to optimize that space for your success, and to separate it from your relaxing space. Even if you can’t make a new space for yourself, you can always reorganize your current one. This is what James calls “Resetting the Room,” and it doesn’t just apply to your work life. Here’s an example – at the end of every day (okay, most days) I make sure that my dishes are done so I don’t have to deal with them in the morning. I clean up my desk and plug in my computer so it’s nice and neat for me the next day. I tidy up my tiny studio apartment, and set up my espresso pot so that the only thing I have to do in the morning is turn on the stove. Waking up to a clean apartment sets the mood for the rest of the day, and having the mental peace of mind isn’t just good for you, but for your work. Your physical space is also your headspace, so allow some room to breathe. Tidy up, align the objects on your desk, and create some order for yourself. Which brings me to my next point:

2. Make your bed

Especially if you don’t normally make your bed. This is another aspect of “Resetting the Room.” Research says that making your bed every morning can make you happier, healthier, and more productive. Why? Because if you do something productive first thing in the morning, then it sets off a chain reaction of accomplishments. It’s a small task, but it’s still a task. After you’ve accomplished this, you’ll feel more capable and ready to take on more. 

3. Put on pants

Yes, you’ve done it before. The great benefits of not working in the office is wearing whatever the hell you want, or not wearing anything at all. But, keep in mind that every time you go to the office, you’re wearing clothes, and when you’re at the office you’re productive. Even researchers have documented the positive impacts of “dressing for success”, and Mason Donovan, author of The Golden Apple: Redefining Work-Life Balance for a Diverse Workforce has said, “Although a dress code may seem silly when you think about working from home, work clothes impact you on a business and personal level and can affect your career.” Hence, clothes = productivity.

4. Take care of yourself

And when I say that I really mean TAKE A SHOWER. Brush your teeth. Shave. Be clean. Do it for yourself. Pandemic is no time or reason to let go of yourself. This applies to all of your routines that you had before, whether it’s meditating, stretching, listening to music, cooking, exercising, etc. The more you can maintain your normal routines that make you feel good, the better.

5. Step away from the computer

Go experience 3D space! Walk the dog. Breath fresh air. Feel the sunshine on your face. Studies have shown that taking a walk every day, specifically within the 2 hours after you wake up, has a great list of health benefits including a boost in energy and improved mood throughout the day. Not to mention that if you have trouble sleeping, it’s shown to regulate your circadian rhythm (the little voice in your brain that tells you when to eat and sleep). If you are choosing to 100% self-quarantine, consider getting your endorphins flowing inside with home workouts (YouTube is great for this). If you are open to some fresh air, weekends are a perfect time to hike and to avoid big groups of people. And after you’ve done that:

6. Wash your hands

And wash them well! The whole reason that we’ve isolated ourselves is out of social responsibility for our communities, and if you don’t wash your hands, you could be spreading the disease more.  What’s the point of holing ourselves in our apartments and our houses if we don’t wash our damn hands? 

Best of luck in working from home over the next few weeks. Take solace in that we’re all in this together, even if we’re alone.