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The Chaotic Girl’s Guide to Working From Home

Alright, boss babe. So you’ve landed your first Big Girl Job, and you’ve got all the tools you need to crush it. But, wait… It’s a work-from-home position?! How are you supposed to get any work done with snacks in the kitchen and possibly your favorite furry little creature hanging around? And what if your messy-ass apartment isn’t exactly the most aesthetic place to take Zoom calls?

Don’t worry, Chaos Queen. We’ve got you covered with a few tips and tricks.

1. Make yourself a little nest

Take a moment to think about where you’re going to work. Don’t just set up shop anywhere. Pick a place where you can leave your computer and various work-from-home accouterments without having to put them away every day. If you’re lucky enough to have an extra bedroom for office space, great. If not, test out spaces around your home to find what’s most comfortable.

Once you’ve got your spot, make it cozy. Make it somewhere you want to spend eight hours each day. Treat yourself to some cute office supplies like a comfy desk chair and acrylic desk organizers. Drape a fuzzy blanket over the back of your chair and add a tiny pillow for maximum coze. Invest in silly things you don’t need like a golden stapler or a tape dispenser in the shape of a hedgehog. Above all, create a functional space that will bring you joy.

2. Be observant and write shit down

So you managed to get the job, but now comes the hard part… actually doing it. So where do you start? The best way to learn is to just start doing… well, stuff. It’s harder to pinpoint what you should be doing when none of your colleagues are around to watch. So start with the immediate tasks your boss is giving you and feel out whether those are repeating or singular tasks. Once you’re a week or two into the job, you’ll have a better idea of what you’re supposed to be doing and when. As soon as you can identify what your process is for getting things done, record it. Step one, step two, step three. Spell it out so you can refer back to it when you get stuck.

This doubles as a way to impress your boss when someone needs to fill in for you or if you have to blow that popsicle stand. Deliver a neatly organized, step-by-step list of your duties, and you’ll walk away with a stellar reference for sure.

3. Create lists

This goes back to writing shit down, but more specifically, write down your daily To Dos. Write them everywhere. In your day planner, on your iPad, in your favorite notebook, on little scraps of paper scattered about your desk. Write them anywhere you can keep track of them. Then, when they’re done, cross them off the list. It’s a tiny reward to eventually see all the tasks crossed out.

Even if you don’t complete every single task on your list for the day, it’s still helpful for tomorrow when you’ll need to pick the tasks back up again.

4. Take time to tidy your space

Organize your space. This seems like a big “duh,” but you’d be surprised how quickly a workspace can descend into chaos, especially when you are a chaotic girlie. Survey your desk area and make a note of what’s going to work for you and what’s not. Are your pens in just the right spot for perfect reachability? Is there a notepad nearby in case a fleetingly brilliant thought pops into your head? Is your keyboard at just the right height for optimal typing speed and accuracy? What can you do to make it more comfortable?

The challenge is keeping your space tidy. The secret to that is to put logical systems in place from the beginning. Have a place for everything so you can put everything in its place. You’re guaranteed to deviate from the system now and then (maybe a lot), but having a clear idea of where things are “supposed” to go helps you get your space tidy again.

5. Compartmentalize

You might be worried about working from home because you have a tendency to let your work life creep into your personal life already. Maybe you answer emails on your off time or find yourself stressing over tomorrow’s tasks. Well, stop that. Stop it right now. The only way to make working from home work for you is to be strict about when you’re not working.

Compartmentalization is a handy tool that some people are afraid to use because it requires some serious mental discipline. But it’s easy with practice. The trick is to task dump at the end of your work day. Dump all of the stuff you still have to do onto a list then make a commitment to forgetting it until tomorrow. Paint a mental picture of yourself packing that list into a little box, tying it up with a big bow, and throwing it away. Take a few minutes at the end of your day to decompress like you would if you were leaving the office. Walk outside, take a deep breath, and draw the line between work time and personal time. All of that stress will fall away when you walk back into the chaos of your home life anyway.

Now you have the road map. Go forth, Chaotic Girl, and make that bag from the comfort of your own home. Take frequent breaks. Hell, take a quick nap if you don’t have a meeting. No one’s there to tell on you. If you follow these tips, you’ll see yourself transition from Chaotic Girl to Chaotic Career Woman.

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