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The Best Work from Home Tips from Our Travel Editors

SmarterTravel

As travel editors, we find ourselves working remotely often. Many of us have even mastered the art of working from home for a living. Read on for our tried-and-true advice from travel editors across the SmarterTravel sites: Airfarewatchdog, Family Vacation Critic, Jetsetter, Oyster, SmarterTravel, and What to Pack.

Invest in Your Home Office Space

Create a designated space for working from home—even if it’s taking over your island counter from nine to five—and keep the space separate from other activities, if possible. I recommend purchasing a computer monitor (check out this one from ViewSonic on Amazon, which is currently in-stock) rather than working directly on your laptop screen; but smaller gadgets like a wireless mouse, laptop stand, desk pad, and even wireless Bluetooth headphones (AirPods are my headphones of choice) make a difference, too. —Ashley, SmarterTravel.com

Work Predictable Hours

When you’re living and working in the same space, it’s easy to let work seep into the rest of your time. To preserve balance, try to maintain regular work hours at home. If you’re simultaneously balancing other responsibilities (kids home from school, elaborate preparations for trips to the grocery store, etc.), give yourself that flexibility while also trying to preserve a basic workday structure so that you leave yourself time to recharge in these challenging times.  —Christine, SmarterTravel.com

Take Short, Frequent Breaks

Sitting in the same place all day is no good for your body—or your brain. In fact, it’s one of the biggest causes of work-from-home burnout. While it might seem counterintuitive, short breaks taken throughout the workday (five to 15 minutes) have been known to increase productivity, concentration, and creativity. Make it a point to get away from your laptop, if even for a few moments—and set alarms if you have to. Stand up and stretch. Refresh your water glass. Put a load of laundry in. Exercise. After an hour or two of solid work, reward yourself with a healthy snack. Dedicate a half-hour to lunch away from your desk. Your work ethic (and sanity) will be thankful you did. —Lindsey, Jetsetter.com

Don’t Start Work Immediately

If you can, try to slowly ease into your workday. Instead of immediately logging on to Slack and checking emails and social media outlets, give yourself an hour or two of “me time.” Meditate, take a walk, or soak in the tub with a cup of coffee. If you’re isolated with your family or partner, share breakfast together. Then do a minimal grooming routine (this is no time for a full blow out or restrictive pants) and start the workday relaxed and in a positive headspace. It really makes a difference. —Megan, Oyster.com

Find a Sunbeam—or a Lamp—for Video Conferencing

The whole point of video conferencing is to get the normal face time that you’d expect from office life. But it doesn’t work if you’re cloaked in shadows the whole time with people unable to read your expression. (Did you smile or scowl at that last presentation? Maybe your team doesn’t know because everything from your eyebrows down is just murky and pixelated.) It helps to consider your lighting setup like a photographer would. Before I click into a meeting, I like to position my laptop in front of a window. The sunlight illuminates my face, making sure people can see me clearly. If your computer setup is static, you can still put a lamp in front of the screen and raise or lower your screen so you’re lit properly. Avoid lighting from behind, which will just turn you into a spooky silhouette. —Maria, WhattoPack.com

Switch Up Your Space

OK, this may contradict some of the other advice here, but hey, flexibility is a big perk of working from home and one we can totally embrace! Because my home desk doesn’t get a lot of natural light, I get my daily dose of vitamin D and reduce fatigue by switching locations to a low-lying coffee table that gets plenty of natural light. I highly recommend a meditation cushion or bench. Switching up spaces and work positions gets the blood flowing, gives you an excuse to introduce breaks into your day, and establishes a sense of a routine (i.e. mornings you work standing; afternoons sitting). And if you need even more motion in your day, use a set of bed risers to create an at-home standing desk. —Patricia, Airfarewatchdog.com

Make Honest Assessments

With fewer restrictions in place at home, if you don’t make an honest evaluation about your work ethic your productivity might falter. Easily distracted? Don’t set up your workspace near a TV where there’s a temptation to quickly finish that Netflix episode you fell asleep to the night before, (and no, muting the TV is not a workaround, no matter how much you talk yourself into it). Addicted to updates? Unless your role directly relies on social media refreshes, avoid logging in or opening up apps until the end of the workday. With no office mates over your shoulder, it’s easy to be seduced into scrolling through your phone without needing to be stealthy. But the part that will really sneak up on you is all the output hours you lost getting sidetracked. Know thy weaknesses and actively try to avoid falling into pitfalls that will limit productivity. —Ricky, Airfarewatchdog.com

Wear Headphones to Signal That You Need Space

We have an “I’m busy, not right now” rule: if one of us is wearing headphones, we don’t bug each other. It may seem obvious, and it’s one of those universal rules in an office environment, but when you’re at home it’s so easy to be interrupted by your partner or to interrupt them. In a small NYC apartment, we don’t have the luxury of having separate rooms/offices to work from. There have been so many times that one of us has come over to tell the other some random thought that could really wait. So now, if we see the headphones are on, we save that thought! —Noemi, Family Vacation Critic

Work Near a Window and Face the Room

You may not have been able to get that corner office with floor-to-ceiling windows at the work office, but you may have a little flexibility with your workstation at home. To avoid fatigue and an amplified feeling of confinement, I recommend putting your desk near a window and facing the room as you work so you’re not just staring at a wall all day. This can be tricky when space is limited. If you have to set up in the living room, try moving the couch off the wall and place your desk behind the couch as if it were a sofa table. —Peter, Airfarewatchdog.com

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