Making working from home work [41 tips]

Working from home has been our modus operandi – as a trial since late 2012, as a permanent solution since 2013. We have learned to work “whenever and wherever” and are more than happy to share how we make remote work work. This is a collaborative post by our team of 20+. (Btw, if you want to see how we take advantage of our location independence on a daily basis, click here.)

What is “normal” for us, might be new for you. Here’s how we tackle the topic. Some tips might seem obvious, some funny or even weird, but at the end of the day, whats most important: it works!

Prepare yourself:
1. Though tempting, I don’t wake up 5 minutes before I should start working – I’m not able to focus properly while I’m still waking up, so I take a shower; then I dress up. It’s a lot harder to get into work mode when Im still in my PJs. [Julia]
2. I always wake up earlier and get ready to “work mode” by doing all the things I would normally do when going out to university or anywhere else. [Hubert]
3. If I have any type of (video) calls, I dress as usual to the office and I do my makeup. [Lidia]
4. I put on jewelry – it prevents me from feeling like a couch potato… talking about couches: I’m also mindful of my posture. Curling up on the sofa with my laptop for too long is actually not so great for the joints. [Ula]
5. I use perfume before important calls; that gets me into “this is serious”-thinking. [Sandra]
6. Before I start work, I try to switch gears into “I’m now at work”, so I don’t get distracted by “I need to water my plants, I’ll go to the fridge, etc.” [Jan]
7. I make sure to prepare snacks & water. My favourite: water, honey, lemon and ginger. [Sara]
8. Think about lunch and plenty of water upfront. [Iza]

Setting your stage:
9. If you can, plan out a work space (because working from your bed may sound nice, it is a very bad idea) so that you have your laptop and all necessary work “stuff” in one place and not scattered around your house. [Katarzyna]
10. Separate a space that will only be used for work. Have a talk with those you live with about not going in there while you’re working. [Julia]
11. I need a clean working environment: that means no dirty coffee cups on the desk. [Sara]
12. For some time I couldn’t have a “proper office” or designated desk for work. I decided that one place on the couch was for work and the other one for leisure. [Sandra]
13. Arrange a designated work space, its good for your psyche. In the long term mixing up work-family-play functions of your home will make it difficult to relax. [Urszula]
14. I like closing the door and opening the window for fresh air. [Iza]
15. I avoid lying on the sofa… to avoid taking a nap by accident ;) [Lidia]
16. Whenever my partner is at home, we stay in separate rooms. [Maria]
17. Good light! Especially in winter, I take advantage of the little sun light we actually get. [Sara]
18. I like being comfy while working. I make sure I have my pillows and the right light and temperature. [Adam]
19. I went through different phases: from complete silence, to radio, to different playlists over to… and bear with me… TV series: but only those that I already know by heart and don’t distract me. [Sandra]

The actual work:
20. I stay off social media when I work. [Kasia]
21. I listen to the playlist “Coffee Table Jazz” on Spotify. [Maria]
22. I separate myself from distractors and put on headphones and love listening to Tangerine Dream. [Sara]
23. I make sure I plan my work with my partner’s (who also works from home) and our daughter’s schedule in mind. [Agnieszka]
24. Remember to take a break every now and then; what helps me is actually going to another room and looking out of the window :D [Kasia]
25. Plan it: don’t spend all day sitting next to a computer! Work fully focused for 6 to 7 hours, but take a few breaks; how I do it: I stand up from the computer for at least a few minutes, prepare tea, open the window for fresh air, make a sandwich. Important: checking Facebook does not count as a break! [Sara]
26. I plan my breaks by setting alarms. Any time in between – I keep working. [Maria]
27. When I plan my day, I plan blocks of time where I do “deep”, focused work and turn off all interruptions (log out of email, turn off phone, ask the family to respect this time). [Ula]
28. The main challenge for me is to not get distracted. During the day I make a plenty of small deals with myself: I can [go eating / take a break / fill in the blank], once I finish something. [Valeria]
29. Depending on where I am, I make sure my partner or family members know that I’m in working mode and I ask them to not interrupt me. [Jan]
30. I actually take naps. It’s more productive for me to take a power nap for 1015 min, rather than pretend to be working for 2 hours while almost falling asleep. [Adam]
31. Set rules with the household members you share space with – this will help them understand that you are at work and not at home. [Anna]
32. Whenever I have troubles focusing, I use the pomodoro technique (Google it! :)) [Jan]
33. When I start loosing focus, I try to meditate or I put on classical music. [Julia]
34. I set a strict schedule, so I don’t go off track. I also plan for my coffee breaks. [Michał]
35. I start my day by planning. [Iza]
36. I try to apply “eat the frog” whenever I see that I postpone something I shouldn’t. For those who don’t know it. Mark Twain said, “If the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is behind you. Your frog is your worst task, and you should do it first thing in the morning.” [Valeria]
37. I keep a bottle of water or some tea nearby. [Katarzyna]

Bonus tips:
38. Whenever I feel I miss interacting with other humans, I call somebody from the team to have a chat. Or when I feel that I could get easily distracted, I ask somebody to check in on me, to make sure I stay focused. [Julia]
39. I like ticking things off my todo list. That helps me stay motivated. [Valeria]
40. Working from home requires a different, much more precise kind of communication. And make sure you have the right tools! [Jan]
41. I make sure to take time at the end of the day to review what I’ve managed to accomplish and “smile with satisfaction”. Celebrating the little things encourages me for the next day. [Izabela]

We truly hope the above tips will help and/or inspire you! Stay safe!