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13 Tips for Working From Home, According to Our Writers

We live in interesting times. As the world hunkers down in response to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus pandemic, a lot of folks are being asked to work from home. Others will be faced with a lack of work, such as our friends in the service industry.

The Manual crew is made up of freelance writers — outdoorsmen and women, grooming gurus, stylists, travel pros — across the United States and the world. Some of us work from home every day. Others are adjusting to our new lives of laptops and sweatpants.

To help everyone in this time of transition, we’ve tapped our collective experience to offer you the best tips for working from home.

Of course, above all, stay safe, healthy, and comfortable. And most importantly, stay up-to-date with trusted sources like the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. And now here are our words of wisdom:

working from home laptop phone dog
Justin Paget/Getty Images

1. Have a dedicated workspace away from distractions. Many people who split working from the office and working from home tend to set up shop at the dining table, only to have to put everything away at dinner time. You’re less productive if you have to set up your workspace every day. Kelsey Machado, designer.

2. Set boundaries with family members. While being close to your significant other or roommates during the workweek has its advantages, seeing them too often could be distracting, or worse, drive you stir crazy. To avoid losing your mind, clearly state when and where others can interact with you during office hours. You could opt to only work in one area of your home during the day and avoid socializing until lunchtime, or whenever you’re ready to take a break. Christian Gollayan, style and grooming editor.

3. Put on pants. I used to be bad about staying in my PJs. Next thing you know, you haven’t changed clothes in three days. Now, I always put on pants, even if it’s just another pair of sweatpants. Nicole Raney, managing editor.

4. I’ve had decent luck with a pair of blue light glasses so far, in terms of working from home advice. I’m not entirely sure it’s helping with eye strain but it’s a physical reminder of how much time I spend looking at screens and is nudging me out the door for more frequent and healthy micro-breaks outside. Additional advice: Limit your tabs. There’s too much noise out there, especially right now. Focus on the task at hand, then return to your newsfeed.  Amen on pants. I fully agree. Mark Stock, wine and music aficionado.

5. Ease into the day with a morning routine. When you work from home, you start to feel like every minute not spent working is wasted time. [We] both have a morning routine of relaxing quietly in the living room with a cup of coffee and either checking the news or reading a book or listening to a podcast. I usually take an hour or so in the morning before I officially jump into work. Kelsey Machado, designer.

working from home laptop father daughter
MoMo Productions/Getty Images

6. Establish a designated workspace and schedule. It’s often easy to get distracted by “home stuff.” While it’s nice to have autonomy, you can waste time with laundry, etc. Find the balance. Clay Abney, outdoorsman.

7. Get creative with your meals. Have a bag of frozen vegetables in the freezer? Look up recipes online to see what could be made with them. Missing some ingredients? See what else you’ve got stocked up and improvise. In the same vein, if you’ve got a variety of foods, why not try a new style of cuisine? Sam Slaughter, food and drink editor.

8. Don’t eat lunch at your workspace and take your regular lunch break. Kelsey Machado, designer.

9. Test all your technology before you start. The programs you use at the office may not work the same at home or off the network. Ross Collicutt, gear expert.

10. Get fresh air. Another thing [we] do is take a few minutes in the afternoon to step outside. Going into an office every day, even if you are just walking from your car to the front door, you get at least a few minutes of fresh air. It’s easy to let a few days pass and never step foot outside when you work from home. On nice days we have our lunch on the balcony, on rainy/cold days we literally just stand at the front door for a few minutes, just to get the crisp air! Kelsey Machado, designer.

11. Schedule screen breaks: Stretch, take your dog for a walk, take yourself for a walk, do a couple of chores, get a snack, or run an errand. Whatever you need to do to get your eyes off your phone and computer for at least a few minutes, do it. If you’re deep into an article, it may not be feasible to, for example, pause every hour on the hour, but when you’re at a defined recess in your writing flow, take a break from your screens. In my experience, I’m more productive and less drained. Miles Branman, auto extraordinaire.

12. Make sure pets are fed and walked before you start working so they don’t bother you. Genevieve Poblano, content manager.

13. The workday ends at X time. Working from home it is very easy to work well past closing time. If your office workday ends at 5, so does your work-from-home day. Another good reason to have a dedicated workspace — walk away from it at 5 and don’t look at it for the rest of the evening. Kelsey Machado, designer.

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