Let’s be honest, the past month led to a complete whirlwind of changes. School is canceled, you can’t go get your favorite margarita on Taco Tuesday, toilet paper has somehow miraculously become a scarce commodity, and probably the most life-altering… You are now braving the waters of the work-from-home life (maybe for the first time!).
Working from home by itself can be challenging, some of us are just not wired that way. Add the stress of children at home running around and new homeschooling tactics, and you probably want to pull your hair out before noon.
The good news is, you can do this. 💪🏼
And you will. 🤷🏼♀️
Because, quite frankly, we have no idea when things will return to normal. 😬
As a digital marketing agency, our team is no stranger to working from home. So, we’ve asked them to send us photos of their set up along with a few helpful tips regarding what keeps them going and focused when everything else seems shaky.
Terri Hoffman, Founder & CEO
Tip #1: Practice Self-Care
Set healthy boundaries for yourself, your clients, and your family.
Understand your “working hours” vs “non-working hours” and stick to them as closely as possible. We all need to be flexible right now, but also aware of the fact that a stressed mind and body will never be as productive as a calm and healthy self.
If you know that you need to “dress for success,” pray, meditate for an hour per day, exercise, go for a walk outside, or spend some time alone playing the piano, then make sure you’re planning for that as part of your daily routine.
Establishing and adhering to a healthy balance is key.
Tip #2: Communicate and CONNECT
It’s so easy when working from home to rely solely on digital communication platforms like email, Slack / Viber, or texting. But NOTHING replaces face-to-face / verbal communication.
Pick up the phone or do a video conference. Get out from behind your keyboard and TALK.
I also use the Activity feature on my Apple Watch to help remind me to get up from my desk and move around while I think and talk. It’s important for me to stay active in order to keep my mind engaged.
Photo of Terri’s workspace:
Aaron Eaves, Director of Digital Marketing
Tip #1: Take Breaks
Don’t forget to take regular breaks, and get outside. Even if it’s to sit in the backyard or take a stroll down the street. Regular breaks from your screen help you re-focus mentally and physically.
Tip #2: Find Your Routine
Find your routine, and stick with it. That includes exercise. Most gyms are closed, but there are a lot of great workout from home routines out there
Tip #3: Communicate
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Working from home requires an extra attention to detail and almost a little over-communication at times.
Tip #4: Respect Everyone’s Time
Be respectful of your team and client’s time. Be on-time or early to meetings. Be prepared. Be professional.
Katy Katz, Director of Account Strategy
Tip #1: Make a Schedule and Keep Track of How You Do
As a marketing agency, keeping track of our time was already a big part of our job (we even use software for this!). It is important for us to know how much time we’re spending on a project since our time is our marketable asset. This is a valuable precursor to working from home because we already have a good idea of where our time is going every day. The trick is setting your intentions at the beginning of the day and then going back to see how things actually worked out.
With kids at home, urgent government updates, and any of the other countless interruptions many of us are finding ourselves faced with, sticking to a schedule is not exactly easy. BUT, if you can set a framework at the beginning of the day, it can help you use your time the most wisely and hopefully leave you with some room at the end for self care.
Tip #2: Find Ways to Block Out the Noise
A weird reality of this new normal is that we can’t leave our workspace, or our homespace, and everyone is packed into one multipurpose environment for the foreseeable future. That can make it virtually impossible to focus.
While headphones were useful in the office so that I didn’t bother other people with my conference calls, they are extremely helpful at home so I can tune out all the non-work things that are going on around me. I personally like to listen to classical or instrumental music while working to help with this effort. Then I can focus on work during work time, and step away and focus on my family when I’m done.
Photo of Katy’s workspace:
James Caldwell, Senior Copywriter & Content Manager
Tip #1: Maintain Your Daily Routine
When I worked from home for eight years before coming to work for Marketing Refresh, I would sometimes go days at a time working in my PJs. I quickly learned that it was not a good habit. You still need to maintain your daily wake-up routine as if you’re leaving the house for the office. Even dressing for success can bring a sense of normalcy to your working day and get your head in the right mindset to work.
Tip #2: Communicate with family members!
If you have a meeting, communicate the time and nature of the meeting. If you need an hour or two of uninterrupted focus time, communicate your need. Or, just put on headphones with music and make it visibly clear that you’re in the zone. Don’t assume everyone else in the house knows your work needs!
Dean Peckenpaugh, Digital Marketing Manager
Tip #1: Keep Your Work Eye-Level
Use wall or desk-mounted monitor arms and laptop trays to keep your work at eye level (this also makes it so people don’t have to look up your nose during a Zoom meeting).
Tip #2: Go Wireless
Consider using a wireless trackball mouse like Logitech’s midrange M570 (cheaper on Amazon!) or high-end Ergo. They’re great for ergonomics and perfect if you have limited desk space or just want to use a mouse while you’re on the couch.
Tip #3: Reduce Strain on Your Eyes
Use bias lighting behind your monitors to reduce eye strain.
Tip #4: Change It Up
Have another chair you can swap to. I typically sit in a standard office chair with movable armrests but often switch to a yoga ball chair to change up my posture.
Photo of Dean’s workspace:
Tiffany McArthur, Account Manager
Tip #1: Prep for the Day
There’s something motivating and energizing about getting prepped for the day. I have a morning routine — which has become even more important now that I have my son’s homeschool work to consider. I start my morning off with coffee with my husband, briefly review my emails and schedule for the day (this helps me mentally organize my workday), get my son’s breakfast together, shower and get dressed, assemble Tripp’s homeschool schedule, and THEN I start my full workday.
Getting Tripp settled is essential to my day going smoothly. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of “Hey, mom!”s throughout the day, but making him a little to-do list helps limit those interruptions. We’re still a work-in-progress, though!
Tip #2: Change Your Environment & Take a Break
I used to step out of the house and work at coffee shops occasionally to change up my scenery… Well, we can’t do that now. Alternatively, I try to step outside in the afternoons either for a walk or simply a break on the patio to get some sunshine and get out of my home office.
I have the same feelings about this tip as I do the previous one. Grabbing some fresh air and sunshine each day helps me stay positive mentally and not get bogged down by being secluded in my home office.
Another way of catching a break is if I get frustrated with work or stuck creatively, I’ll step aside and play piano for 10-15 minutes. This could be ANYTHING! If you like to draw, do that. Love to read novels? Read a chapter on your break. Find what you love and work it into your day.
Christian Merenu, Digital Marketing Coordinator
Tip #1: Take A Walk
Every now and again – say, once in the morning and once in the afternoon – I’ll go out and take a walk to get out from in front of a screen.
Tip #2: Break Up Your Day
I will also typically take a break to do my weekend chores so that I have plenty of time to myself during the weekend.
Photo of Christian’s workspace:
Amanda Huse, Account Coordinator
Tip #1: Have a Separate Work Space
Have a separate designated place to work. Working in your bedroom or a place you associate with relaxation will likely keep you unmotivated. A designated space puts you in the right mindset.
Tip #2: Take A Break
When I feel like I’m getting burnt out I will take my dog for a walk outside. Even a 10 min walk can make the world a difference when you’re cooped up inside in the same place every day.
Photo of Amanda’s workspace:
We All Work Differently
As you can see, we all have varying tips for what helps us stay focused. That’s because we are all different people with different personalities! At the end of the day, you just have to find what works for you – but, hopefully, our list gives you a great place to start.
Obviously this is a crazy time for everyone and there’s no telling what is to come. The Marketing Refresh team is here to help you with your marketing efforts in any way that we can.
You can do this. We can do this. #TogetherWeCan.