You’ve never known true professional humiliation until you’re made into an unintentional YouTube star after accidentally logging into your office conference call while completely pantless. With an unprecedented amount of people suddenly working from home, snafus are bound to happen, but there’s no reason you have to wind up a viral meme just because you turned yourself into a potato on Zoom and can’t figure out how to undo it. Yes, it happened.

Whether you’re sheltering in place and still need to get stuff done or you’re transitioning to a home office for other less pandemic-related reasons, here are a few things you can do to make working from home actually, well, work.

Put Pants On

And no, not just because you could flash Deborah from marketing and scare her forever. As tempting as it is to meander to your computer while still in your PJs, it’s helpful to draw a clear line between work time and playtime. If being in pajamas 24/7 is your hill to die on, so be it, but even just showering, shaving, and changing into clean sweats can reset your brain and put you in a more productive mindset.

Bonus points: We shouldn’t have to say this but… brush your teeth. That rush of minty freshness is good for your mouth, great for any family members who are isolating with you and your morning breath, and amazing for a little extra get up and go.

Download a Website Blocker

Now that you’re home and out from under whatever restrictions your company has placed on the corporate computer network, it’s way too easy to fall down an internet rabbit hole. One minute you’re Googling statistics for your upcoming marketing meeting and the next you’re watching F1 highlight reels and doing vanity searches to see which of your misadventures have made it to the world wide web.

Extensions like Chrome’s StayFocusd allow you to limit or completely block time-wasting websites. It’s like parental lock but instead of keeping the kids away the naughtier corners of the internet you’re keeping yourself away from Reddit. Our favorite feature: If you try to add time with less than 3 minutes to go on your tier, you’ll be redirected to a website about procrastination.

Set Yourself a Schedule

People who don’t work from home love to talk about how amazing it would be to have the flexibility an out-of-office job allows for. It’s true that remote jobs give you the ability to be with your sick kiddo or give in to your night-owl tendencies, but it also means that work can bleed over into every facet of your life. Like working in the evenings? You may still have to attend video meetings during the day, and now you’re working morning, noon, and night. So happy to be home with the little ones? Good luck writing that urgent brief when all you can hear is a bunch of snack fiends screaming for crackers and attention.

It’s true that remote jobs give you the ability to be with your sick kiddo or give in to your night-owl tendencies, but it also means that work can bleed over into every facet of your life.

Even if it’s just you at home, it’s important for your mental well-being to compartmentalize your life. Set a time to start working, schedule in breaks (and actually take them), and know in advance what time you’ll be powering down the computer and signing off for the day. Your stopping point applies to email and phone calls, too. Unless you’re normally expected to reply to your bosses messages at 10pm, you shouldn’t be expected to interrupt your Netflix binge to do so now either.

By the way — It’s okay if things shift a bit depending on outside factors or your own needs, but at least you’ll be operating within a supportive framework.

Turn Off the News

Staying informed is important. That said, today’s TV news is more like an onslaught than an offering. We’re constantly inundated with stories meant to grab our attention, and science says all that doom and gloom can actually trap us in a state of negativity. And it’s not just the television, either — most of us see news stories shared on our social media feeds and get alerts on our phones too. It’s exhausting.

Make your work hours a low- or no-news zone. Turn off the television, silence phone and social notifications, and revel in temporary ignorance. Don’t worry, if something big happens your friends will let you know. In the meantime, you’ll be cranking away at your to-do list and giving your brain a massively necessarily time out.

Learn How to Troubleshoot

What do you do when working from home doesn’t go quite as planned?

  • If your internet goes out… First of all, outages happen. They happen in the office too. With the insanely high amount of people at home during the pandemic, internet usage has skyrocketed, and that has created some lags. Your boss will understand. You can also try turning your phone into a hotspot and connecting your computer that way.
  • If you’re sick… Working from home doesn’t mean working through the flu or a migraine. You still get the same considerations as if you were in the office, and that includes sick days.
  • If you’re lonely… Isolation stinks, but you can — and should — still connect with coworkers and friends. Get on Slack, start a group text, or invite everyone to a private Facebook group. Just socialize before you realize that the only conversation you’ve had all month is with your cat, and he’s tired of your nonsense.

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