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It’s a rainy, made-for-tea kind of day, and the start of another work from home week thanks to the global corona virus pandemic.

I am fortunate that the virus has not really impacted my work life. I typically work out of my home office, except when I visit my clients for in-person strategy sessions and video/photo shoots. I have learned A LOT about how to be productive in a non-traditional work environment over the past two years, and I have been encouraged to share some work-from-home tips with you.

1. Try to start and end work at the same time each day.

When you are working from home, it is tempting to sleep in a bit, or take a long lunch break, but you are going to have to catch up on the work hours you are missing later. Trust me, you are not going to want to work until midnight because you got sucked into watching another segment of the Today Show or scrolled Twitter longer than you should have.

On the other end of the spectrum, set a hard stop time and stick to it. Even when I feel like I am really in the zone, and could keep working for hours, I shut off my computer at 7PM. I have discovered that if I keep working past 7 I will decide I deserve to sleep in or take a half day the next day, and before you know it my entire week is thrown off.

I also like stopping in the middle of a project I am excited about, because it helps me stick to my schedule the next morning if I want to get back to something I was nearly finished with the day before.

2. Set aside an area of your home that you can call your office.

Having a physical space that you identify as your office during work hours can help you adapt to working from your home. Your brain sees your home as a place of leisure, so you need to trick it a little bit.

Having a place to store all the stuff you need to do your job is also important, especially if your “office” is the kitchen table, or a comfy chair. Seeing your computer or a pile of work-related paperwork out of the corner of your eye while you are eating dinner or trying to watch a movie with your family will make you feel like you should be working. (You shouldn’t! That’s what work hours are for!)

My husband also works from home quite frequently, and we quickly discovered we both need our own work space. This is inefficient space-wise, but it helps both of us be more productive.

3. Don’t do household chores during work hours.

Spending a few minutes here and there cleaning things up around the house is not a good idea. Your brain is trying to trick you into slipping into leisure mode by telling you house work is a productive break from work. Don’t listen to it! Stay in work mode while you are at work.

When you need a break, take the same sort of break you would in a traditional office. Go make yourself a cup of coffee, go through the mail, check your personal social media accounts, or take a (socially-distanced) walk around the block.

4. Connect with other people.

When you work from home, it is easy to go a whole day without talking to another person. It is also easy to push work stress on to your family members if they are the only people you are seeing each day. Neither scenario is good in the long run.

Make a point to connect with colleagues whenever you can. Give someone a call, shoot someone an email, or write someone a handwritten thank you note every day.

With that being said, I’d love to hear how your work-from-home experience is going, or see a picture of your “office.” I’m also happy to jump on a call or video chat if you want to catch up.

Photo of Emily Kelchen Emily Kelchen

Emily S. Kelchen founded Kelchen Consulting after realizing the free time she spent building websites and experimenting with social media-driven marketing and advocacy was much more fun than working as a traditional lobbyist. Emily is active in both the New Jersey and Wisconsin…

Emily S. Kelchen founded Kelchen Consulting after realizing the free time she spent building websites and experimenting with social media-driven marketing and advocacy was much more fun than working as a traditional lobbyist. Emily is active in both the New Jersey and Wisconsin state bar associations, and is a member of the American Bar Association. She is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s communications committee and on the board of its Nonresident Lawyers Division. Emily graduated from Truman State University in Kirksville, MO, with a degree in political science, and earned her J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School in Madison, WI. She currently resides in Flemington, NJ, and therefore relishes any opportunity to talk about the Lindbergh baby kidnapping trial.