For some of us, we’ve been working from home for years. Others have been at it for two weeks, or one week. And, a necessary few don’t even have that option. Our Chicago office has been working from home since the first case of Coronavirus in Chicago was identified in our building. Yep, too close for comfort! We’re fine, but we — like many of you — are navigating new waters.

Our team would like to share some of our personal coping tools we’ve been using to stay energized, motivated, focused and cohesive as a team during this time.

Use your mornings to set yourself up for success

Research has shown that people who make their beds in the morning feel more productive for the rest of the day. In Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, he found a correlation between making your bed and higher productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and even stronger skills at sticking within a budget. Whether or not you make the bed religiously, what you do first thing in the morning can set you up for a positive, energized, successful day. Here’s how our Marketing Manager Ashleigh structures her morning.

“Mornings are important. They set you up for how you’re going to feel for the rest of the day. I try to make time for activities that support my physical and mental health before the workday even begins. My morning routine looks like this:

7:00am – Wake up and exercise!
7:45am – Shower and get dressed in something professional, but comfortable. Nobody needs to be in a suit right now.
8:15am – Breakfast
8:30am – Play guitar
9:am – Start the work day!

Your routine may be different. Maybe you want to begin the day with ten minutes of meditating and writing down intentions. Maybe you find that you’re more productive if you make the bed before you do anything else, or tidy your work area. Whatever works for you. But, build it into a routine that sets you up for success.”

– Ashleigh Blumthal, Marketing Manager

Claim your space

May work from home tips include setting aside a specific place in your home that is your temporary “camp.” But, one of our EM employees takes that a step further by trying to set up their WFH station as close to their office desk as possible.

“It helps to have a dedicated workspace set up to match your office desk as closely as possible. I’ve found this helps me stay focused and in the ‘work’ mindset.”

– Anonymous

But claiming your space to get in your normal “work mindset” isn’t just about physical space, it’s also about designating work time from personal time, so you can focus on one end, and unwind on the other.

“When I’m working from home, work time and home time tend to blend together, so I’ve been practicing creating ‘time boundaries’ around what is work time, what is break time, and what is home time. And, of course dogs, spouses, laundry, and Amazon deliveries interrupt focus, but no more so than coworkers in the office.”

– Anonymous

And, freeing mental space is also important, which one of our employees does by limiting news time.

“In the beginning, I structured my day around when the local and national news updates were going to be aired. I’d watch the clock knowing that, in a few minutes, I should turn on the TV to see what the government had to say — any updates or new insights. This was incredibly unhelpful and doesn’t put the mind at ease, nor does it allow you to easily focus on the task at hand. Now, we only turn on the news for a morning update at 7 a.m. or after work!”

Find a new rhythm that works for new circumstances

Maintaining a similar meeting schedule to in-office work can be grounding in the midst of so much upheaval, but you’ll also find that you have to create some new habits and find new rhythms in this “new normal.”

“We have daily touchpoints, morning and afternoon, with team members who are working from home, and the structure and content of those meetings are energizing for all.”

– Anonymous

“Sticking to a schedule and using the Ivy Lee method has been extremely helpful. I log onto my laptop about 15 minutes before the workday begins, write out the 6 things that have to get done, and then schedule in short breaks to keep sane! Knowing what my priorities are before starting the day and adhering to a schedule keep me productive.”

– Alyson Doering, Business Engagement Manager

Get creative with movement

Going from bed to kitchen to home-office to couch isn’t enough exercise for anyone’s physical or mental wellness. Without our normal physical outlets, we’ve gotten a bit… creative.

“The amount of free streaming services to get your sweat on is incredible! But when you need to up the ante and add some resistance to your workout and don’t have weights… use what you’ve got.”

Stay open to learning new lessons and embracing the best parts of WFH

Working from home can make you see both work and home in a new light. Some of the surprises we’ve encountered so far…

“My biggest takeaway from all of this is that I produce way too much waste. Like running the dishwasher at least every other day for only two people, or having so much garbage and recycling.”

– Danica Wasser, Operations Manager

“Having both my husband and myself working from home now has been great, actually. We get to have lunch together and throw the ball for the dog. We get to talk about our days as they’re happening. We can make each other tea, and even more importantly, we can make each other laugh. And, it’s also been really weird (and cool) to overhear him in ‘work mode’ — which is a side I don’t normally get to see.”