Top Tips For Working From Home

What’s not to love about having no commute and getting to do what you love, from the comfort of your own home, all while wearing comfy clothes?!

Working from home is definitely a very nice job perk, but in times like these, when more people than ever before have been forced to work from home, it can also present some unique challenges.

Since the whole Mediavine team has always been completely remote, and pretty much all of our publishers work on their sites from home, we asked the employees at Mediavine to share some of their tops tips for working at home.

These suggestions and ideas can be very helpful in maximizing your workflow, staying focused and also ensuring that you prioritize your health and wellness, especially when your office is also your home. 

Working from home - Learn some tip tips to help maximize your workflow, stay focused and also prioritize your wellness. (Pinterest image)

What is your experience with working remotely?

“I’m a total extrovert so working from home sometimes has that con, however, I love being able to work from home! I can make sure that my coffee is always hot, take sunshine breaks when needed, cozy up with a blanket when it’s cold, all while getting to work from the comfort of my home.” — Karla, Publisher Support Specialist

“There’s less stress around getting to and from work. One of my favorite things about working remotely is spending cuddle time with the dogs.” — Cynthia, Director, Business Intelligence

“Yassss working from home is way better! I save $$ on gas and dining out, and honestly getting dressed for other people daily is exhausting. Working from home is also the reason I can rescue and foster multiple dogs all the time, but honestly, from an actual GET – ISH – DONE standpoint, I really work best SUPER early in the morning and an office would never afford me that.” — Heather, Director of Publisher Support (Sharing how to increase Mediavine ad revenue from her session at #MVCON19 in Chicago)

“I love working from home! Working from home is not for everybody but I personally think it’s better. Not only do I save time and gas but I avoid the traffic during rush hour (LA traffic can be really bad). I can also eat home-cooked meals and work in comfy clothes. Being able to work from home means you can work from anywhere as long as you have internet connection. My senior lets me work from the Philippines from time to time and that for me is the best thing about working from home.” — Hannah, Software Engineer 

home office desk setup

What is your home office workstation like?

“I’ve done every manner of home office life — working from the couch, having a desk and even working from bed in my pajamas. I think so long as your computer is set up for you to easily login and focus from the jump, where you actually work from doesn’t matter so much. Though my chiropractor hates it when I work from bed!” — Amber, Co-Founder (Amber’s thoughts on content syndication)

“My husband and I converted one of our spare bedrooms into an office that we share, so his desk is on the other side of the room from mine. We both use headphones to listen to podcasts and music while we work, and we rarely have meetings at the same time. (And when we do, one of us goes to another room.) People often ask how we can work that closely together. It wad hard at first but we have done it for years and we finally have a good rhythm in place! My desk is near a window, which I share with my cats who love to watch the birds and squirrels in between naps. I use a laptop hooked up to an external monitor, keyboard and mouse for better ergonomics. I almost always have a candle burning and my space heater running to keep my feet warm! Yes, even in summer.” — Susannah, Senior Graphic Designer (Susannah shares her top graphic design tools)

“Right now I’ve moved my co-working setup to a desk at home. I’ve got an external monitor as well as a roost stand for my MacBook to elevate it to the same height as my monitor and help prevent neck problems. I also have a Das Keyboard Mac Pro 3 Mechanical keyboard that is one of my favorite office items. The feedback from it helps me to type more efficiently and it’s also incredibly satisfying to hear the clicks when I’m hacking away at some code.” — Alex, Senior Software Engineer

How do you stay focused and productive at home?

“I am obsessed with Monday.com. It’s a checklist tool that is super comprehensive. You can set timers and due dates, assign things to yourself or a team, track how much time you are spending and where, then reassess and budget accordingly. I make myself a list every day and set priorities, so I know what I absolutely HAVE to get done. We also use this tool to structure most of the tasks our Support Department does in a day. It’s my favorite!” — Heather, Director of Publisher Support (Learn all about using heat maps and what they can tell you about your traffic)

“Lists are my lifeblood. I love the feeling of making a list and marking all of the tasks off one by one. It’s addicting!” — Carmen, Assistant Publisher Support Manager

“We use a Kanban board for the high level overview of work, and with that I keep todo lists of requirements on those cards. In addition, I also love the Drafts app for Mac. I use that to keep notes from meetings and is a great place to dump ideas that I can later go back and refine.

For staying on task, I love RescueTime premium! It keeps track of where I’m spending my time and has some great features for preventing me from distracting tasks (especially reading the news lately). I highly recommend getting dressed and showered in the morning and even taking a short walk before and after work if you can. It helps get me in the work mindset and is a great way to unwind once you’ve wrapped up for the day.

Lastly, as simple as it is, I would definitely recommend exploring what kind of noise keeps you productive. Whether it be silence (noise cancelling headphones are great for this!), some light jazz, or even speed metal (engineers are weird, ok?) it can help a lot with keeping your brain on task. For me, synthwave is one of my favorite kinds of music to listen to while coding because it makes me feel like I’m an 80’s hacker :)” — Alex, Senior Software Engineer

dogs in beds napping

What advice do you have for keeping in communication with your team?

“Working remotely, for me, means over-communicating and keeping really good personal records. Ultimately if your manager ever comes to you and says, “Hey, what did you work on yesterday?” you really want to have a clear and concise answer. I am much better at this when it is not weird crazy world times. We also do weekly meetings, but I really caution against holding meetings for everything just because you can. They can be unproductive time sucks. Never have a meeting about a conversation that would be really easily had asynchronously or over Slack.” — Nicole, Vice President of Publisher Support (Nicole talks about what a DMCA is and when you should take action)

“To-do lists are my savior. I use a Trello board to keep track of all my current projects and their current status, using a system that works for me. I’m a very list-oriented person, so this is honestly my main motivator/way of staying on task! There’s something very satisfying to me about looking at the list of completed tasks at the end of the day, and then clicking “Archive cards in lists” and watching my “Completed tasks” column empty.

I also use Google Calendar to schedule meetings, which has a few great integrations that are great! It will send me a push notification to make sure I join meetings on time and have a moment to prepare any last minute notes, make sure my microphone is working, and so on. The Google Calendar integration with Slack (the primary communication tool we use at Mediavine) even sends me a digest of all the scheduled events I have on my calendar every morning!” — Sara, Virtual Assistant (Sara shares 4 easy ways to improve your writing)

“I like to reach out with questions when I am stuck so I can learn from the more experienced members on our team. I also engage in some chit chat on Slack between work. I try to keep conversation light and show a bit of my silly side, in case I’m able to help someone else have a better day at work.” — Palmer, Publisher Support Specialist

What do you typically eat for lunch?

“A definite disadvantage of working from home is the lack of exercise. Sometimes I look at the amount of steps I’ve taken in a day and cringe. For this reason I try to eat a light breakfast and a carb free lunch, and always drink a lot of water. The extra bathroom breaks force me to take periodic breaks throughout the day.” — Brad, Vice President of Ad Operations (Brad talks about ad revenue by the seasons and why slumps happen)

“It helps to plan ahead. For two people who work from home, we try to cook 2-3 bigger meals (that make 4-8 servings) a few times a week so we can enjoy them for a couple of lunches and dinners. Having a meal that’s ready to pop in the microwave makes it easier to take a lunch break that doesn’t require a lot of time or dishes, and it makes dinners easier too.” — Susannah, Senior Graphic Designer

“A smoothie! It is an easy way to get vegetables! I am trying to adopt the eat to live, not live to eat mentality. Dinner can be whatever, but the first two meals of the day are the same thing almost every day. When we aren’t social distancing, I try to get out to lunch about once or twice a week.” — Phil, Senior Vice President of Sales and Revenue

When you work from home, it can feel like work is always there. How do you disconnect?

“I keep all of my work things in a single room, and only go in there to work whenever possible. That builds the association that my office = work time, and helps me keep focused when I’m in there — and also disconnect when I’m done for the day. A lot of it is self-discipline. It’s important to tell yourself that the work will be there tomorrow, and it isn’t the end of the world to take a bit of time for yourself. Burning the candle from both ends is a good way to end up burnt out. We can’t always run at 100%.” — Sara, Virtual Assistant

“I am not the best person to answer this question! To be perfectly honest, I am terrible at NOT doing something at all times, and I do have a hard time shutting off. I try super hard to just BE DONE when I am done though. Your brain only has 6 good hours of good work in it every day. So pay attention to when you know you are most productive, and put all the high level things in that time frame. Tasks and things that don’t require as much focus can fill the other 2-3 hours. TAKE BREAKS. Go outside. And don’t come back after dinner.” — Heather, Director of Publisher Support

“I try to set some sort of an evening schedule with the family. In normal times I would be coaching baseball and softball in the evenings. Right now, we are setting game nights, bike rides, some kind of project or making dinner as a family. Anything that involves kids pretty much forces you to disconnect. Workout classes that start at a specific time also force me to disconnect.” — Phil, Senior Vice President of Sales and Revenue

Two cats sitting

What is your #1 tip for someone who is working from home for the first time?

“The transition to working from home is always the hardest. You can’t expect a perfect flow and routine right away. Write down your ideal schedule and try to stick to it. Make adjustments when necessary, but don’t go off the rails and do random things that aren’t on your ideal schedule.” — Kat, Senior UX/UI Designer

“Don’t forget to get up throughout the day and walk around. Remember all those water cooler or general chit chat breaks that you used to take during the day when you worked in an office? Take those at home too. Go outside, take your dog for a walk or spend 5 minutes with your kids. Most of my best work ideas happen when I’m not sitting at my desk.” — Brad, Vice President of Ad Operations (Watch Brad talk about preparing for Q1)

“Just do what works for you, and don’t be too hard on yourself. If getting dressed in the morning makes you feel better? Do it. If you’d rather wear the same pajamas for two days and burn your bra in the backyard? I’ll mail you some matches and FaceTime you while you celebrate. Whatever works, do it. These are weird times. Working from home is a little strange even during normal times in the world. Just try to keep your stress levels down, enjoy the aspects of it that you can, and find a person who will listen to all of your venting and complaining. Cause there will be some of that.” — Nicole, Vice President of Publisher Support (Nicole took the stage at the GCPP Summit to talk about Mediavine’s commitment to our onboarding process).

Whether you are trying to survive quarantine with kids or not, we would love to hear some of your favorite tips when it comes to working from home. In the meantime, if you have questions for us, please don’t hesitate to reach out anytime. We’re here for you at publishers@mediavine.com.