I often think back to March 2020 and how those of us in PR, like many people, thought we’d be home for a few weeks at most. Oh, how wrong we were! As we creep toward the end of 2020 (thank God), it’s important to avoid burnout, especially for PR pros. For me, working from home has been a major adjustment. It was strange not to get on a train and walk into the office by 9 AM to start the day of media calls and meetings.
The WFH life gets mixed reviews from our staff as well. Some people say they are more productive at home and enjoy going fully virtual. Others who are social butterflies, like me, miss the social aspect of working in an office – catching up with co-workers and in-person events.
No one was really prepared for WFH life and it took some time for everyone to find their groove, but we did it. Now, however, it could start to get tougher for people to stay motivated. As we enter the home stretch of 2020, consider the following advice for staying motivated while continuing to work from home.
Maintain ‘normal’ hours
Are your company hours of business 9-6? What time do you actually start working? Maintaining normal hours can be tricky when working from home. You save time by not commuting to an office, but does that mean we should be working longer? Yes and no. Set a schedule and stick to it – most of the time. Just like working late in an office, there will be times when you may have to work longer than normal. If you’re in the midst of a client project and you have one small section left, finish it right now, then reward yourself when it’s all done. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries for yourself as well. Perhaps you don’t answer non-urgent emails until you log on at 9 AM. Make a schedule that works for you!
Location, location, location!
The great thing about being remote is that as long as you have internet access and a laptop, you can work anywhere. Since being home, I have switched my ‘home office’ five times. Living in a household of five adults felt very crowded, and space was limited. After a few weeks, I found my most productive spot was in a room filled with windows and sunshine. Find a quiet space in your home that is free of major distractions like a TV. Find the best office space you can. If you spend too long in one place, switch it up the next week. In my case, a change of scenery may spark new motivation for finishing that byline or press release draft. Be sure to set boundaries with your family or roommates and ask them to limit surprise visits during working hours to avoid unnecessary distractions and increased productivity.
Personalize your space
We spend the majority of our week at an office and have spent time personalizing it to make it feel like a second home. No one was really prepared to create a home office. Slowly, my home office feels more like my desk in the real office that awaits my return. Personalize your space with the essentials like a comfortable desk chair, daily planner, and favorite pens. Add accessories that have made our lives easier like blue light glasses, wireless headphones or Airpods (mine were the best purchase I made this year), a ring light and a motivational water bottle to make sure you stay hydrated. Make your space comfortable but productive – maybe feng shui to welcome in good energy for a great work day! Have you been addicted to HGTV during lockdown and want to make your space more visually appealing? Research interior designers and their tips for a better at home work space. Their main tips? Make your space a place you want to work in everyday!
Use the 50/10 rule
If you are used to stepping out for lunch or that afternoon coffee, don’t give those up just because you’re working from home. The theory of the 50/10 rule is one that remote workers should note. It suggests for every 50 minutes of work, like meetings, pitching or writing, you should take a 10-minute break. These short breaks in your day will help avoid burnout, cut down on distractions, and overall make you more productive. Sometimes we need distance from Slack or emails to regroup. Motivate yourself by saying if I get X, Y and Z done, then I can take a break or a quick walk around the block. It may seem simple but it’s highly effective.
Don’t skip Zoom calls
Zoom has been a savior during lockdown, connecting us to friends, family and coworkers. At Crenshaw, we pride ourselves on having a strong company culture and just because we’re not all together in the office, it doesn’t mean we can’t socialize. Since the first week, we have had a standing Thursday call for happy hour. This hour includes very little work talk but simply conversations around the latest Netflix show, personal updates or sharing opinions on the latest tech product launch. We all have those days where we may not be in the mood or would rather sign off early but try not to do this! You’ll feel better if you keep on your routine and spend some facetime with your coworkers, even if it is virtual!
Take care of yourself
During this weird time we called 2020, we need to remember to take care of our mental and physical health. Admit it, you had a short period in spring when you thought the world was ending and this was the worst thing to happen. There have been hard times and struggles this year but like any other problem, we will overcome this pandemic. We won’t wake up one morning and things will go back to normal. It will take time. Until then, we can reflect on our state and work on becoming better. Pick up a new hobby, read that New York Times bestseller that has been on your list for months, take a Zoom yoga class or bite the bullet and buy yourself that Peloton bike. Set a goal to become a better version of yourself. If you feel good, you will want to share it with everyone and it may even make you a stronger PR person overall.
How are you switching things up during WFH life? Let me know on Twitter @colleeno_pr!