As we all settle into new routines and habits that respect the rules of social distancing, many of us find ourselves working remotely for the first time. To help ease that transition, we put the call out to some of our favorite teachers for their best advice on building a work from home practice. The teachers below are photographers, illustrators, self-care experts, and authors, and they’ve all built thriving creative businesses and careers from home studios and offices.
We hope that their tips help you create a space at home that feels inspired, productive, and centered.
1. Create a Routine… and Then Create It Again Based on What Works
Justin Bridges, Fashion Photographer: My best advice to handle the transition to remote work is to put together a game plan.
How will you operate your office hours or organize your day? How will you stay connected with your colleagues?
Make this plan but don’t feel the need to stick to the script. Allow for flexibility as you learn what kind of operator you are in a remote environment.
“Allow for flexibility as you learn what kind of operator you are in a remote environment. ”
Don’t read a bunch of articles or books and believe that the only way to be successful is to create a strict routine or wake up at 6am. I promise you, it’ll fall apart if you run too far from your own nature. Stay flexible and mold an experience that works for you.
2. Stay Focused By Making Your To-do List The Night Before
Megan Friesth, Motion Designer: The biggest thing for being productive when working from home for me is to make a list the night before of the top 1-3 things to get done. Otherwise, I find myself in productive procrastination mode (like scrolling on Pinterest for inspiration).
Tabitha Park, Photographer: Don’t discount the power of checklists. I usually create my list the night before and it gives me a clear idea of what needs to happen. I mark two items as “must do” and the rest is extra. That way when I get to the end of the day (hopefully) I can avoid that feeling of I didn’t even do the 1 thing I wanted to get done today!
Meera Lee Patel, Artist and Author: Make a list and chart out responsibilities. I try to make the next day’s to-do list the night before, so I can wake up and begin without wasting energy figuring out what to do. If I find myself in a distracted mood, I take a walk (one of the best parts about working from home!) or implement the Pomodoro technique to help me focus. Remember that a few hours of truly focused work is worth more than non-stop hours of distracted work.
3. Shape a Morning Routine That Powers Your Day
Trupti Karjinni, Artist and Paintmaker: My best tip for working from home is to have a solid morning routine. My day gets screwed up if I have a bad start and all those little blunders add up to get in the way of productivity.
Meera Lee Patel, Artist and Author: It’s difficult to be home and not take care of my home. Often, I find valuable creative hours being sucked into chores or errands. It’s also difficult to stop working when you live in your office.
That’s why a self-care wake-up routine prepares me for my day: I wake up, eat something small (oatmeal, yogurt, fruit), and do a 15-20 minute meditation. Then I spend 10 minutes jumping rope and another 10min doing a quick abs or arms workout. Try doing this outside if it’s nice out! The meditation calms me and helps me feel grounded, while the quick workout energizes my body, pumps me full of endorphins, and genuinely makes me excited for the new day.
4. Morning Was Rocky? Reset Your Day at Any Time
The benefit of being at home means that you can take a moment to pause in your space and re-shift your focus. Doing so may involve resetting your routine like Top Teacher Amarilys Henderson: “I’ll even shower at lunchtime to “restart” the day when I need to.”
5. Keep Your Big To-Do’s in View (Literally)
Jen Dixon, Illustrator and Abstract Artist: I made a laminated sheet to help me focus during those times I get distracted. Pro tip: keep it in view of your workspace.
If I get stuck during my day, I can pick an area to get back on track. What I like about this to-do sheet is that I’ve outlined categories that I can break down into specific tasks elsewhere.
6. Stay Inspired By Setting Boundaries and Taking in New Content
Yasmine Cheyenne, Writer and Self-Healing Advocate: The best way I’ve found to take care of myself is to set firm boundaries around when I’m working. It’s super important to remind myself that just because work has now come home this doesn’t mean that my home is now all about work.
This is a good time to energize your creative practice by trying new classes, reading new books, and listening to those podcasts you’ve been meaning to.
When you use experiences in the world to influence your art, work from home can sometimes stifle creativity. However, consciously using social media, news articles, books, and even movies are super helpful ways to kickstart creativity. I’m really careful about limiting what I take in on social media when I work from home: we all know, a few minutes spent on social media can turn into hours!
Whether you’re working from home for the first time or have been thriving in a remote work situation, we hope that this advice can help you. As Justin Bridges puts it: “The point is to try to keep your physical and emotional self in a healthy place. We can’t be perfect human beings, but we can try to keep the edges softer after fatigue and stress.”