When the mandate to “shelter in place” to slow the spread of the coronavirus came down from San Francisco Mayor London Breed on March 16, office workers of the city cast aside their ID badges, put away their mass transit Clipper cards, and hit the grocery stores for coffee pods and sandwich bread. And a lot of toilet paper.

It’s a pattern that’s being followed in other hard-hit areas across the country. The rest of California is now locked down, and New York City is almost there. If you listen to the medical experts, the expectation is that many more of you across the country will probably soon be homebound as well.

To all new teleworkers: Welcome to my world.

Five years ago, I exchanged my heels and slacks for Lululemon leggings and Ugg slippers, and never looked back. My workspace, as a freelance writer, is now an office in the back of my house. I talk with my boss by instant message, and I file my work electronically.

It turns out, there’s rarely a need to go into an office—if ever. But working from home does present a different set of challenges. Here are some of the ways I’ve learned to make the most out of working from home. 

Set up an honest-to-goodness workstation

As a writer, give me the internet, my laptop, and my iPhone, and I’m pretty much good to go, almost anywhere. Still, to be truly efficient, you need a few more tools to set yourself up for at-home success.

I’m talking about an ergonomic chair, a desk, and a space whose sole purpose is to make me a productive member of society. That way, even though my workplace is steps from my bedroom, my mindset switches into work mode.

Even before everyone started wiping down surfaces, I had always tended to keep a clean workspace. After all, janitorial services are not around to wash my coffee cup or empty my wastebasket. This also helps me keep my focus on work.

An orderly work area can also help you get other parts of your life in shape. Recently, once my work is done, I’ve been using my home office to attend to some personal business: purging old paperwork and doing my taxes. Getting this stuff sorted out during the week means that come the weekend, there’s more me time.

Claudine's Home Office
The author’s home office

Claudine Zap

Take mental health breaks when you need them

An upside of working at home is being able to go outside, and not just into the office parking lot. Since I’m not wasting time on a commute, I start most days with a morning run—and these days, the streets are way quiet. Still, hiking, walking, and biking are all allowed under the shelter in place order, as long as we each keep our distance of 6 feet from each other.

I’m lucky enough to live mere blocks from the Presidio National Park, a nirvana of trails, trees, and views of the ocean. But no matter where you are, just taking a walk around the block or a neighborhood jog will help clear your head and make you happier, healthier, and—yes, boss—more productive.

Plan healthy homemade meals

I did try ordering lunch from an app once. It arrived so late it became dinner. So, even before the stay-at-home mandate, I have been preparing meals from my fridge.

With a little planning, it’s possible to pick up provisions for healthy, easy lunches, such as salads, soups, and sandwich fixings. (Grocery shopping has been deemed an essential activity, so get going.) These days, my morning java is from a single-serve coffee machine. Forget the candy jar on your co-worker’s desk, and stock up on raw almonds, dark chocolate, protein bars, and fresh fruit. Eating right can help keep you alert and focused.

Enjoy some quality time with pets

If you have a dog, it will give you extra motivation to take those mental health breaks we talked about earlier—get up from your desk, get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and get in some steps. Playtime with my pup is one of the best perks to sticking around during the day. If you’re now at home and have dogs, trust me, they will think they’ve hit the puppy jackpot. As for cats, well, they will most likely tolerate your existence. Probably.

Walking the dog
Walking the dog

Claudine Zap

The post How I Learned to Make the Most of Working From Home—and You Can Too appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

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