Our team usually works from home one to two days a week, but working from home for nearly a year brings its unique challenges. COVID-19 has dismantled our established rhythms and habits and forced us to rebuild a new routine in this unusual setting. It’s easy to drift to comfort and convenience — sleeping later than usual, staying in pajamas, and working from the couch — but eventually, what once seemed like a dream can quickly become a nightmare to productivity.

Rebuilding new habits to fuel productivity in this unique setting will take intentional practices. Here are a few small habits New Story team members have found to help them work from home. 

slow, screenless mornings

“Mornings are my hack. I love to get up a couple of hours early to take it slow, read, have coffee, and spend intentional time away from a screen. It centers me and leads to higher productivity throughout the day.”

Brand Designer
Atlanta, GA

make your bed

“I make my bed so that it discourages me from crawling back into it halfway through the day. I also choose to work from the spot in my house that has the best view, which is near a window where you can see snow-capped mountains.”

Senior Software Engineer
Denver, CO

put on your pants

“While working in pajamas seems like the dream, I quickly found out it does not work for me. So I put on pants and shoes every morning as if I were actually going to an office. Workout clothes mentally prepare you to exercise, and pajamas prepare you for sleep. What we wear affects how we think and behave.” 

Content Associate
Atlanta, GA

braids, flowers, and a raised computer

“Three things that help me work better at home: One–braids. They make me feel happy and make me feel like a boss. Two–flowers. Three–a raised computer to help my neck.” 

Chief Growth Officer
Atlanta, GA

writing a daily to-do list and reflections

“I know this isn’t revolutionary or groundbreaking, but the small habit I have started practicing since working from home is writing a to-do list in a daily reflection and organizer. I write a few things I want to accomplish each day, and what doesn’t get done gets moved to the next day.”

Software Engineer
Atlanta, GA

work from the same place

“A small, helpful habit for me has been to work in the same place. I transitioned my dining room into a faux office. It helps me to compartmentalize when I’m at work and when I’m not at work.”

People and Culture Ops Associate
Atlanta, GA

take your calls on a walk

“When I have a lot of meetings or phone calls, I take them on the road. I grab my phone and walk around my block. It helps with productivity and staying active.”

Growth Manager
San Francisco, CA

surround yourself with joy

“When I think about optimizing work from home, I’m not just thinking about work, I’m thinking about being happy at home for an extended period of time, and so I want to put things around me that bring me joy throughout the day. So every week when I go to the grocery store I buy a little bouquet of flowers for myself. When I see them, it makes me smile, and it makes working from home a little more enjoyable.”

Co-Founder & COO
San Francisco, CA

selective screen time

“Something that has helped me during this season is being selective of my screen time and the content I’m consuming. It’s never been easier to have our days consumed by a screen and disheartening content. I have a few go-to sources for content that brightens my day, and I have cut down on sources that have dragged me down. And to reduce screen time, pick back up a hobby that you once loved but haven’t made time for in a while. For me, that’s been painting and cooking.”

Head of Research and Development
Boston, MA

two-hour work blocks

“What’s helped my productivity during this crazy time is working in two-hour increments with a 15-minute break in between them. During that break, I go outside, or play with my dog, or talk to my husband. I also have an alarm set for 6 pm to stop working, but those 15-minute increments throughout the day refresh my mind and help with productivity.” 

Partner Success Associate
Atlanta, GA

take time to stretch

“I have a reminder on my desk to stretch three times a day — morning, lunch, and evening.”

Co-Founder & Head of Product
San Francisco, CA

timeblock tomorrow

“The most important habit for me while working for home is time blocking to finish every workday. At the end of every day, for my work and my personal life, I decide what’s most important for me tomorrow. I schedule those priorities on my calendar then try not to do or think about anything else work-related for the rest of the day.”

Strategic Partnerships Manager
Seattle, Washington

end with intention

Atlanta, GA

“I practice a few different habits to help me end my workday. Because you’re working and living from the same space, it can feel like one flows seamlessly into the other. This can lead to depriving yourself of a true break. 

First of all, delete work apps such as Slack and email from your phone. You run the risk of being too digitally connected, not disconnected. While you are at it, you can delete social media apps, too. It probably won’t help transition away from work but could address anxiety issues or wasted time. Next, schedule an alarm that signals a clean start and end to your day. Set it, leave it, and stick to it. Finally, pack your stuff. Shut your laptop, wrap your charger, place everything in your bag, and place your bag wherever you normally would when you get home from work.”