To-Not-Do List: The Working From Home Edition

April 6, 2020 | Activate Learning | 4 min read

With all of the unavoidable distractions that come with working from home, it can be challenging to adapt to working remotely. The place we found refuge in after a long day at the office has now absorbed the office.

Now that work and home are in one place, it’s crucial for us to govern ourselves and how we spend our time. There is a lot of freedom with working from home, which is great for work/life balance, but we must keep ourselves in check.

The other day I was listening to an episode WorkLife with Adam Grant, that talked about procrastination. The episode brought up the idea of writing a “To-Not-Do” list of sorts.

Though it seems a bit strange, I have personally found that it keeps me on track with my actual to-do list. There is power in writing things down. It helps you focus on what you need to do—or in our case, what not to do.

So, without further ado, here is my “To-Not-Do List: The Working from Home Edition.”

  • Don’t “go with the flow” This is not to be confused with being flexible with surprise work demands. Always be accommodating to the needs of your team and organization. What I mean by not going with the flow is, be intentional about planning out your day. Everything from project deadlines to when you can do the dishes. Block out time for when you need to focus on work and when you can take a break to get household chores done.
  • Don’t just work wherever I am in no way saying you can’t add some variety to where you work throughout the day. I have a desk in a home office but sometimes need to stand, so I’ve found the kitchen counter to be a great place to work when I’m feeling restless. However, it is important to designate work areas and non-work areas. This can help distinguish when you’re “at work” and not. Separation of where you work and where you don’t is key.
  • Don’t stay cooped up We often procrastinate when we’re unmotivated, which can happen when we coop ourselves up. Go outside. Walk around. In an office, it’s common for people to walk around their office building or go to grab a 2 o’clock coffee down the road at Starbucks. The same should apply for working remotely. I’ve found that a walk around the neighborhood or a quick game of fetch with my dog helps. It’s easy to be even more sedentary at home than it is at the office—don’t forget to move around.
  • Don’t constantly check social media With everything going on today, it is important to stay grounded in reality. While social media can stir constructive debate and dialogue about things such as COVID-19, it can also sensationalize things like pandemics and cause more anxiety. Reserve social media for breaks. For example, I try to not check social media until lunchtime and then leave it again until after work hours.
  • Don’t burn yourself out When you’re working from home, it’s easy to work more hours than you would at the office. It’s great to go the extra mile and to be honest, many of us don’t have anything else to do, so why not get ahead and put in some extra time? Initiative is great but working so much that it consumes the vast majority of your time is not. Don’t burn yourself out—try packing up your work devices if you have a hard time not getting sucked back into work. We need to rest and have time away from work.
  • Don’t snack all day It’s easy to be a serial eater when you work remotely. As someone who can easily eat a whole bag of potato chips in a sitting, it’s important to be disciplined in portion control. Use a small bowl and limit yourself. Don’t forget to substitute junk food with fruits, veggies and nuts—granted you don’t have any allergies. If you succumb to the temptation of eating junk food all day, you’ll feel sluggish—plus it’s just bad for you in general.

Lastly, don’t forget that working from home takes some getting used to. Be patient and find your own rhythm. Working in an office and working from home are different and that’s okay—trust the process and figure out a schedule that works for you, and your work responsibilities.

Ryan Tidwell is a Content Marketing Specialist at Skillsoft