As countries around the world are issuing stay-at-home orders to help slow the spread of COVID-19, many of us are now working from home.

I wrote this piece to pass along to my co-workers – the real ones (not the new ones: hubby, daughter and the cats) – and we thought it might be useful to share with others.

So here are some of the best tips for working at home during COVID-19 that I found online:

Get dressed in real clothes. No pajamas! Because you’re more likely to be productive if you get dressed. And shower. If you don’t get ready for the day, your day never really starts. (The people who live with you will appreciate this!)

Have a dedicated workspace. This means defining the part of your house where work happens. This tells your brain that you are at work, and when you are not in that space, you are not at work.

Don’t work from the couch or your bed because this is bad for your body ergonomically. Working in a place that should be for sleeping will result in bad work and bad sleep. If you can, sit at a desk, table, or even the kitchen counter.

A place with a door that closes is even more important if your new “co-workers” have trouble with boundaries. Having a door that closes is important psychologically, as it creates a barrier to help remind family and “co-workers” not to bother you, and also encourages you to separate your day into work time and relax time. (Hopefully they won’t sit outside the door and bark or meow.)

Take yogurt breaks. (This is what I call snack breaks at the office.) And make sure you break for lunch.

Establish regular hours with a start and stop routine. This means having a clear separation between when you’re at work and when you’re not. Without the regular office commute (going down the stairs to the basement doesn’t count), you won’t have the usual time to decompress. Trick yourself psychologically by getting ready like you’re going to the office and/or taking a short walk around the block before and after your working hours to help separate your workday from the rest of your life.

Exercise. Do a full workout before or after work, or during the workday, take stretch breaks or get up and walk around or do a few jumping jacks. (This is good advice to follow for when we’re all back together at the office, too.)

Go outside. The fresh air will do you good. You can do this before or after working hours or at lunch.

Listen to as much Bon Jovi as possible. (Okay, I didn’t find this one online, it’s a personal suggestion. 😊)

Set boundaries. Train your family to leave you alone. This is easier said than done, especially when you have younger children.

No TV. Do not turn it on during the workday. At all. Period.

Make yourself laugh. (With your new “co-workers” or via chats with actual colleagues. Also, to help keep up your spirits, click here and here for a bit of humor about working from home.)

Keep your home and workspace as neat and tidy as possible. This helps avoid feeling the need to clean up while you’re supposed to be working, and also from arguments with your new “co-workers.”

Wash your hands! And don’t touch your face. (Washing your hands for 20 seconds breaks down the grease that holds the virus together, which kills it. Click here and watch this video to find out if you’re washing your hands properly.

As one of my real co-workers pointed out, the key to all of this is “routine, routine, routine.”

As he started working remotely a few years ago, here’s his perspective:

“Anything you can do to your environment to let your brain know it’s work time, do it! That means get up early like you would for work, shower, get dressed the same, and settle in to work in the same place every day!

“Any ritual you can setup for yourself will help. Personally, I make a coffee every morning in an Aeropress. I have to grind the beans, boil the water, and press it through. All of this takes less than five minutes, but it’s something I only ever do right before work, and it helps tell my brain it’s working time! (The coffee doesn’t hurt, either.)

“In summary, set up a routine that works for you. A good routine can really help keep you happy, healthy, and feeling a lot more steady in this time of chaos.”

And if you haven’t already seen this, our home province has found another way to help people during these times of isolation. Check out the Ultimate Online Nova Scotia Kitchen Party (COVID19) Edition on Facebook.

As you continue working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, I hope this finds you safe and healthy, following government directives, practising social distancing, and being kind.

If you need more information about the COVID-19 pandemic, Velsoft’s latest softskills course can help: Understanding and Coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic.