Google search trends change over time. Some keywords keep their popularity throughout the years, others are written in the search bar more frequently during different seasons. The search frequency of certain keywords is tied to different events around the world. The keyword “how to stay sane when working from home” had a huge increase in popularity in March 2020. It’s not difficult to guess the reason why; the Covid-19 pandemic unexpectedly forced millions of people to start working remotely. Some people already had remote working experience, but others had never worked from home before. It’s understandable that they turned to Google for working from home tips and help to get used to their new daily routines.
At Topcontent, we are a fully remote team. The happenings of 2020 did not affect the work routine of our employees because we are already used to working from home and in remote teams. Throughout the years, we have actively shared working from home best practices, such as how to stay healthy when working from home, overcoming depression when working remotely and how to set up your workspace at a home office. However, we wanted to give answers directly to the people who are wondering how to work from home and keep your sanity. Therefore we decided to collect tips on working from home directly from the Topcontent team. There is nothing better than personal, tried and tested advice!
8 tips to stay sane when working from home
1. Get dressed in your work clothes
Michelle, our Head of Human Resources, recommends to not wear your weekend clothes every day: “I wear different clothes for work and for the weekend, even though I stay at home. It makes the weekend more fun, and it makes the weekend feel like an actual weekend.”
Our CEO, Tore, shares the same opinion: “Dress appropriately. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look professional.”
2. Listen to music or the radio
Popular advice was to listen to music or to keep the radio on during your workday to improve your focus and to feel less lonely:
Lev, UX Specialist:
“The main tip I can share is to constantly listen to music. There are multiple options, but the most convenient way to create a good atmosphere is to listen to long dj sessions in different styles. Sessions can be a better option than song playlists because they provide a deeper experience. I also recommend using a speaker instead of headphones when you listen to music. This way the sound surrounds you, helping to concentrate and dive into the flow.”
Anita, Content Manager Team Leader:
“Keep the radio or some good music on in the background. Especially when working from home, you can sometimes feel a bit alone in your ‘office’, so you can create a fun atmosphere by playing music in the background all day long. I love to have a Norwegian radio show (online) playing while I work so I can listen to some voices. I like to break up the day with music, interviews and news in the background.”
3. Set up a dedicated work area
Oystein, our Account Manager, recommends separating your free time area and working area at home: “Set up a dedicated work area. This area should only be for work, and when you sit there, you’re in work mode. For breaks, go to a different area to clear your mind, away from the computer screen.”
This advice was shared by other people as well:
“Create a workplace or two! Working at a designated working area will make you feel like going to the office. Don’t use the sofa, bed or sun lounge to do your work. If you move around with your computer in your home you will never really feel ‘logged out’ and off work.”
4. Schedule your workday
It can sometimes be challenging to balance between work and free time when you don’t literally leave your workplace. You can easily find yourself working longer hours and taking on more than you can handle, or alternatively, you might find that you can’t finalise your work due to distractions. To manage your time and improve working from home productivity, our team suggests to schedule your workday:
Jane, Senior Content Manager:
“Schedule your workday! It’s so easy to go to the fridge to get a snack, get lost in social media feeds or lose track of time when you’re watching funny cat videos in the middle of the day. Be disciplined. Set up your working hours and take breaks for social media and eating. Furthermore, if you are always available, you will soon have your friends contacting you during your workday and not respecting your working hours. You should also be firm with your working hours, or you will find yourself on call all day long and maybe even evenings too. Answering those out of hours emails because it’s so convenient to do so from home will soon turn into hours spent in front of the computer. Take the time off to recharge your batteries.”
Our Systems Administrator agrees:
“To work effectively remotely, you need to practice self-discipline. I recommend creating an hourly plan, and track your start and end time of the working day, as well as lunchtime and coffee breaks. Try to avoid distractions; if possible, don’t go to the store or walk your dog during your working hours. Make sure people around you are aware that even though you are at home, it doesn’t mean your schedule is free and you are available for chats or trips out. You need to follow your work schedule as closely as possible.”
5. Set up routines for the rest of your household as well
If you don’t live alone, it might be a good idea to set up a schedule and routine at home so that everyone knows when you are working and shouldn’t be disturbed. This applies to pets as well!
“Do you have animals that are suddenly overjoyed by you being at home all the time? Well, set up routines for them too. It is not playtime all day long, and having a workspace will help your furry little friend to know when you are available or not.”
6. Stay active
One of the best parts of working remotely is the lack of commute; no need to wake up in the crack of dawn to catch the bus or bike to work in freezing temperatures. However, when you don’t need to commute, you miss the one benefit it has: it keeps you active. If you don’t use a car, you can easily get your daily dosage of exercise when you walk or bike to work or fight your way through the morning rush hour in the tube. At home, getting up from bed and walking to the kitchen and then to your desk will not bring the same benefit.
Elina, our Website Manager, says one of the most important working from home tips for success is to stay active: “Nobody can work with full productivity with an aching neck or back. Make sure you fit in even a little bit of exercise every day to keep your body functioning properly. Even a 30 minute walk during a lunch break a couple of times a week will improve both your mental and physical health. You can also install an app to your phone or computer to remind you to get up once every hour to stretch your legs.”
7. Make sure you have all tools and equipment necessary to maximise efficiency – and use them properly!
Nowadays we are all dependent on certain tools in our daily work, but they are even more crucial for remote teams. You don’t want to spend 15 minutes of a 1 hour meeting struggling to turn on the camera or fiddling with the sound of your video conference tool. If you want to keep your sanity while working from home, make sure you have all the tools you need to make it work, and learn how to use them properly.
What you want:
What you want to avoid:
Here’s a list of recommendations from us:
- Arrange meetings via video conferences, but keep the groups small (3-4 people MAX).
- Use the share screen feature.
- Take advantage of a software that allows you to draw on your colleague’s screen (for example Slack).
- If you use Bluetooth headphones, have a backup when you run out of battery (or keep a classic pair of cord earphones as a backup).
- Collaborate with your colleagues by using online tools such as Google documents. Always share edit access and use the suggestion function when you want to recommend edits so that these changes are easily tracked and viewed by anyone using the document.
- Don’t disturb colleagues on Slack. Use email if it’s not urgent.
- Make sure your message contains all information needed for your colleague to take action before hitting that initial send button.
8. Don’t forget to socialise
Even though you are not physically in the same place with your colleagues, it doesn’t mean you cannot socialise!
“Interact with your colleagues. It is important to talk and chat with your coworkers to create and maintain a team feeling. If there are team activities – take part in them. The feeling of being part of a team and doing things together with your colleagues from all around the world is quite an amazing feeling. Try it, I bet you will laugh as much sitting at home as you would during a coffee break at the office.”
Our CEO Tore gives a simpler advice, but it’s equally important: “Don’t forget to smile.”
How to stay sane when working from home
We hope these tips from our team have answered your question on how to stay sane when working from home. If you are not used to working remotely, it can be especially difficult to adjust to working from a home office. But it’s possible! If you consider our working from home tips, we guarantee that you will be happier and healthier in your home office – whether it’s a short-term solution or a permanent change.
Keep an eye out on our blog for further advice and tips for working from home, and subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed about new blog posts and exciting news about content.