Tips and Tricks for Working from Home

Many of women in the printing industry have recently been thrust into a work from home model. Change can be particularly unsettling to adjust to especially when it was not your choice. I began thinking back to when I first made the decision to work from home, long before the COVID-19 restrictions interfered with our lives. Here are a few tips that you may find helpful in keeping productivity on the right path.

1. “Routines” Rule
It can be very easy to slip into a less regimented daily activity when you find yourself surrounded with distractions. Even if you’re just looking to add one load of laundry or an extra snack trip to the pantry: try and avoid distracting chores. Make a schedule, just as you do in the office, and stick to your start time, lunch period and end of day. Formalize the type of projects you do at certain points of the day (for me, that means that generating quotes are the first task).

2. Wear What Works
Yoga pants are suddenly a completely acceptable form of attire, along with fuzzy slippers. I will say that over the long term, this wears off for me. I found this being the case as a stay-at-home-mom, too. At some point, the fitness wear needs a rest and it feels good just to dress for your own self-esteem.

Woman sitting with a Laptop 

3. Step up a Designated Space
When my home first became my office, it was a tremendous struggle to find where I fit in. My designated work area literally moved from the kitchen to the bedroom to the patio to finally a basement office. Personally, for me, having the distractions of a spouse appearing for a meal or meal prep wasn’t contributing to my best work. And the bedroom was depressing from a too short a distance in steps. I will say my husband, on the other hand, has the ability to create a home office from his car, kitchen counter or living room sofa, but I’m pretty sure I work harder than he does anyway.

4. Distractions
I suffer from serious “shiny object syndrome,” so I refer back to point #1 often.  A door to said office has helped immensely, but with the COVID-19 “shelter in place” orders, I now find two newly-created distractions: my children. I recommend setting some age-appropriate ground rules on when you are available. We’ve also implemented some sign language in place for “I’m on a call”, which is necessary since the smart phone is always in tow.

5. End of the Day....Enough Already
This isn't just a “I now work from home” problem; this is a “work from the smart phone all the time” problem. Pick a time of day that you will end your work and stick to it. Your family deserves to have all of you in your off hours, so leave those three emails until the morning.


6. Make Time to be Social
No, I don’t mean scrolling LinkedIn or Twitter - schedule ‘water cooler’ time. I hosted a happy hour with all the women who are part of my company over a video chat. We kept it very casual and no work discussion - not as a rule, it just happened. We found ourselves laughing, getting a glimpse into each other’s home life. I also now know one of them donates plasma every other week which shows that inspiring women may be in your office circle. It was a refreshing way to end the week on an uplifting camaraderie note. If there’s one positive to be had from being forced to stay home, it’s everyone is more willing to video conference and smiles go a long way in personal wellness. Connections go a long way, now more than ever, so please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, if we aren’t already! 

Heather Roden can be reached via her LinkedIn profile  or on Twitter . She is the co-chair of the Women In Print Alliance and has been working from home since 2017.