How to Excel at Working From Home

The founder of local business Ask Jennyfer shares her tips
working from home
Photo: IStock

With Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Stay at Home, Stay Safe executive order now in effect, many Michiganders are adjusting to working from home as they move meetings from conference rooms to video chat, find a quiet spot to set up their laptop, debate whether to change out of their sweats, and try to push away new distractions — looking at you television. Hour Detroit recently spoke with Jennyfer Crawford, the founder of event planning, branding, and social media marketing company Ask Jennyfer. Here, the business owner, who typically works between her house and an office, shares her work-from-home tips.

Set a schedule

Crawford acknowledges that it can be difficult to find a new routine when you’re adjusting to a work-from-home setup, but she says that it’s important to set a schedule and stick to it. “I usually set an alarm on my phone,” she says. “I start the timer at the beginning of my work shift, and have it go off when I am concluded with the workday.” She also suggests limiting your time on social media and utilizing your phone’s settings to block apps that distract you. 

Stay organized

“I always make a to-do list and put the highest priority things at the top,” Crawford says. “I also have separate folders for specific things categorized high priority and low priority.” She makes a list every day and if there’s something she doesn’t complete that day, she moves it to the next day. If there’s something that has been on her list for more than three days — excluding long-term projects — she labels those tasks “high priority to prioritize their completion. 

Have a designated workspace

Crawford suggests designating a quiet place to sit and work where you can focus. “If you don’t have a large space, you can use even the corner of a room,” she says. “For me, I have a place in my living room where I have my desk set up.” The location you choose is important, and Crawford recommends avoiding spaces that can distract you, like in front of the T.V. “I have a no-T.V. policy when I’m working and put on music in the background. Music and sticking to my to-do list helps me stay focused, and of course, that cup of coffee when I first wake up in the morning helps me stay focused as well.”

Align your schedule with your children’s schedule

Work-from-home employees who are parents should consider how they can keep their kids occupied while they’re trying to focus. “You can create assignments or something that they have to complete at the same time you have work time,” Crawford says. “It can make it easier when they’re on the same schedule as you.” For many parents, who have now received remote learning instructions from their children’s teachers, this means getting their kids set up with schoolwork before starting the workday. Crawford also recommends creating check-in times throughout the day. Of course, being flexible and patient when unexpected interruptions happen is also important 

Utilize digital resources

Crawford says that utilizing video chat tools like Skype and Zoom is important for staying connected when you work from home. “That way you’re not losing that face to face connection with clients,” she says. “Technology is great right now for that reason.” Some video tools even allow you to share files as well as your screen, so you walk others on your chat through presentations or files in real-time. Slack, an instant messaging platform, is another great way to stay connected if you work with a team.  

Think of the benefits

Transitioning to working from home can be difficult for those who are used to being in an office. But Crawford encourages others to look at this time as something positive — when you work from home, you can enjoy more quiet time to get organized and be prepared, and you can even knock off tasks on your to-do list in your pajamas, if that works for you. “I think that when you’re at home and not in the office, you’re more relaxed and sometimes you can get more things done,” she says. “My advice would be to make the best of it, not to look at this situation as a negative thing.”