I’ve been reading dozens of articles on how to work from home in the last week as the wave of closures and self-isolation sweeps the globe. But as someone who has actually been doing this for what’s approaching a decade, some of the advice, though clearly well-intended seems to me to be written by people who haven’t done it. I could be wrong, but here’s my take on it:

Don’t Get Dressed

Seriously. There are tons of people out there advocating for acting like you would normally do: get up, dress, shower, eat, report on time. And while I understand that sounds like it makes psychological sense (I’m not a psychologist) I think it may highlight how abnormal your situation is. Why not embrace the benefits?

Not a morning person? I’m sure not. Sleep late. At the last possible moment, get up, get some coffee, and open your laptop to check in on time. Bonus point if you have kids and can teach them how to brew coffee for you -set their alarms and tell them to bring it to you in bed with a promise of extra screen time and sugary cereal if they do it right.

Faking It

I used to be a television news producer and I can assure you we did in fact have anchors wearing jean shorts and a shirt and tie because at the anchor desk, that’s all viewers can see. I’ve adopted a page out of this book and if I’m happily working at my laptop and some client wants a last minute or urgent video call, slap some makeup on, hair in a bun, chunky necklace and a blazer over my pajama top and I look good as I ever do (yes, I realize that may say something about me) for the call. As far as I know, no one has ever noticed.

Fake it Well

I did have a supervisor at a major corporation I worked for who once on a group call kept making water noises in the background. We all asked him what it was and he fessed up that he was in the bathtub during the call. So. Much. No.

Hey, don’t let me rain on your freaky parade. If you feel comfortable doing a conference call from your bubble bath, have at it – but for the love of God, do not splash and NEVER admit that is what you are doing.

Get Up

I suspect this very genuine piece of advice has been written elsewhere, but I find it critical to not losing my mind. I get up and walk after sitting at my computer for any length of time. Pace, run stairs, do whatever but I personally challenge myself to get 1,000 steps every hour (which takes about ten minutes of walking around) and it saves my sanity and gives me a time to focus on what to do when I get back to the computer.

When You Are Going Crazy

Notice I said “when” not “if”. This is the time to throw a total wrench into your routine. If you are staying in jammies, THIS is the time to get dressed and act like you are going out. Also, call a friend you haven’t talked to in ages in the middle of the day. Take a lunch break and cook something gourmet you’ve never made before. But this is the time you really need to change something just to get back on track.


This one can be tough. I am not a list maker, but when trying to motivate yourself when you are alone in your home and can succumb to one million distractions, this is a life-save for me personally. Make a list of just five things you need to get done and promise yourself not to leave your work area until you have finished at least two of them. In my experience, sitting down and forcing the issue can start the overall productivity wheel going.

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About Laura Keyes Ellsworth

Laura has been writing and editing for more than 25 years, a fact which more than a source of pride, sends her running to the wrinkle cream aisle of CVS. She has worked for CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, The Economist Intelligence Unit, and CBS radio. She has three children, and you will either find her thoroughly enjoying their company or yelling at them to clean up after themselves and turn off the lights.

View all posts by Laura Keyes Ellsworth

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