March 25, 2020 |

home office items on desk

We are certainly in an unprecedented time with COVID-19. Many of us are learning to navigate our new realities of what it is like to work from home, and specifically, how to be productive while working from home. The initial excitement or lustre can wear off pretty quickly. Productivity can go by the wayside.  The reality of working from home without the ability to connect in person with people and colleagues can be a challenge.

I can tell you, from nearly 15 years of experience, that working from home can be exciting for the first few days, and in time, the solitude can get to you. A malaise or complacency can kick in. Shifting out of stagnancy is essential. Admittedly, I have no experience when it comes to social distancing and self-isolation – I would typically suggest coffees and meetings throughout the days and weeks. But, alas, it’s a time to do this digitally.

This may be a time of uncertainty, but we can be thankful for the ability to make an income through this time. Many will not have this luxury. For those who are reliant on a job that pays hourly or those who have been temporarily laid-off,  my heart goes out to you.

As you read this, keep in mind that we are are in this together. That this time is going to bring some ups and downs, we will all navigate these in our own unique way. We will get through this together.

I have personally found that implementing the following “working from home tips” have been very helpful for me over the years.

1) Routine, Routine, Routine

Set a routine! Stick to it. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are creatures of habit and routine. We like some resemblance of order and predictability in our lives. Break up your day into sections, stay structured and keep your routine!

2) Wake-up Time

Stick to your work weekday wakeup time – set your alarm for the same time each day as you would when you usually go to work. You can’t be blamed for feeling like every day is the weekend right now, but it isn’t the weekend, every day. So, keep your focus and consistency.

3) Move Your Body

Set a morning routine (check out my blog about morning routines here) that gets you moving your body whether that is outside (with appropriate social distancing, 2 metres apart, for as long as we are permitted to be outdoors in this time). We need the endorphins, deep breathing and physical stimulation to ward of malaise and depression. Moving your body will give you energy. Don’t push it too hard, no pain no gain, is an old idea that doesn’t serve our health.

4) Healthy Meals

Start your day off with a nutritious meal and eat healthy throughout your day! It’s a lot easier to eat healthy food when you cook at home! This will impact your focus and energy level. Avoid processed sugars, starchy carbs, alcohol, and all processed foods.

5) Work Attire

As much fun as it is to stay in your PJs, make sure to shower and get dressed in your “work clothes”.  Keep your work routine in place. These little mind tricks go a long way! It will help you focus on your day job and keep your spirits up. It may initially seem like a little thing, but it does wonders for our psyche!

6) Office Mug

Choose an “office” mug for your workday. When you have a coffee in this mug, it’s work time. Again a little mind trick. When the workday is over, put it in the dishwasher for the next day.

7) Work Zone

Choose a work zone, whether that it a den, kitchen island, dining room, etc…have this as your workspace that you protect. Don’t take your workspace to the bedroom or any other area that you normally wouldn’t work in. Protect that relaxations home spaces as best as you can.

8) To-Do List

Set your To-Do list, every day. Detail your daily, weekly and monthly tasks and goals into a list. We all get a sense of satisfaction when we can check off a completed task. Reward yourself at the moment when you complete the task; you may be working alone at home so you won’t necessarily get the appreciation from your colleagues or work contacts if you don’t give it to yourself. Science proves when we complete a task that we get a little hit of Dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter.

9) Web Browser Tabs

Set up a separate set of web browser tabs for work. I use Chrome – I have a work set of tabs and a personal set of tabs. I “minimize” the window of tabs that I am not using. It helps shift my brain into work mode and conversely personal/home time.

10) Set Up Meetings

Book meeting times throughout your day. Set these up with colleagues, sales contacts, etc. We need to socialize, the extra effort to do so while working from home is key. Set a goal of 3 or more calls a day. Digital meetings are new for many of us, and there is no better time than right now to dive into Zoom/FaceTime/Skype/Hangouts/WhatsApp. Connect with others online. Looking into someone’s eyes is powerful; it helps us connect and feel empathy for one another. Here is a list of best video conferencing best practices from Seth Godin.

11) Continue To Move Your Body

Move your body throughout the day. It makes a huge difference. Mimicking the daily office routine of walking to a boardroom for meetings, grabbing a coffee, heading outside to grab lunch, etc. are things that we take for granted. I do bodyweight exercises and life kettlebells throughout my day. Moving my body helps me shift into a new mental space, and it gives me a refreshed perspective. It’s also great for stress relief!  Keep in mind that this is not about physical exertion, no matter what your physical capacity is, simply do what you are comfortable doing. A little can go a long way. I find that a few minutes of movement throughout the day can help me focus on the additional tasks I have to complete.

12) Digital Coffee Break

Call a friend of a colleague – consider this the watercooler conversation. We need healthy distractions that will allow us to return to our work with focus and perspective. Put a time cap on this so that it doesn’t run too long, but it is essential to do what you need to stay refreshed while working alone.

13) Clocking Out

End your day at your chosen time; stick to it. If you can close the door to your home office, do so. If you are working from the kitchen close down your computer, put your work items away and leave your home, go for a walk outside or do some jumping jacks. Then return “home,” acknowledge that you are no longer on the clock and shift into your home life.

14) Discover What Works For You

Above all else, try new things. Everyone has something that works well for them. Discovering what works for you is the most important thing during this time. Once you figure out what works for you, stick to that routine. Routine and consistency are paramount.

Final Takeaway:

Stay focused, patient and know that this too will pass. When in doubt, reach out to a friend and share what is on your mind. We are all in this together. Here are some tips about how to set up your home office.


Managing your time effectively while working from home can be challenging. Having a thinking partner to navigate this time and someone to be your accountability partner can really help, contact me here.

If you are curious about how we could work together, visit this page to get a better sense of how I work. Here are some testimonials from my clients. 

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