How to Make It Work While Working from Home

By Samantha E. Gordon

One word has been on everyone’s mind lately: Coronavirus. When will the stay-at-home orders be lifted? When can I go to the grocery store without worrying about whether I will find toilet paper? When can I go eat at my favorite restaurant again or will my favorite restaurant even be open after all of this is over?

These questions are on most Americans’ minds daily. The unknown of when this is all going to end is terrifying. There have been so many different occupations affected by this pandemic, lawyers included. Before Governor Cooper announced the statewide stay-at-home order in North Carolina, lawyers from the North Carolina State Bar and NCBA asked Governor Cooper to consider legal services “essential.” When the Order was issued on March 27, legal services were considered essential. Even so, many lawyers find themselves working at home. If you are not used to working from home, finding motivation and willpower to get work done can be challenging. There are plenty of distractions: dogs, children, outdoor projects, spring cleaning, Tiger King . . . the list goes on.

In these uncertain times, lawyers may be finding it difficult to assist their clients as they were before the pandemic hit. Court cases have been continued. Clients don’t feel safe meeting at our offices. Clients may have been laid off and can no longer afford legal fees. It’s not pretty. However, as lawyers, it is our obligation to assist our clients, pandemic or not. If you feel like you are lacking inspiration or feel like distractions are getting the best of you, here are six ways you can stay productive at home and continue the unique work that only lawyers have the privilege to do.

  1. Establish a Routine During Quarantine. I know, I know; everyone has said this since day one. There is a reason for it—it works! You probably had a routine before this pandemic happened. Just because your office is now feet away, it doesn’t mean your routine should fall by the wayside. Your routine doesn’t have to be for the whole entire day. It can be a morning routine, a lunch routine, a night routine, whatever kind of routine that is going to help with your productivity. A morning routine helps set the tone for the day, whether it’s working out, stepping outside, or making a delicious breakfast. A lunch routine can get you through the midday hump and get you back to being focused. An example of that could be making lunch for yourself and anyone else in your household. A nighttime routine can help with any stress the day may have caused you. An example could be cleaning, meditation, journaling, reading a chapter in a book. Whatever you decide to make routine, stick with it. Structure is key.
  2. Give Back through Pro Bono Work: If you find that your workload has lessened since the pandemic began and you want to contribute to your community, there are two very important Pro Bono opportunities available to lawyers all throughout North Carolina:
    • NC Free Legal Answers is a web-based portal that allows financially eligible North Carolina residents to ask civil legal questions for lawyers to answer anonymously online. Lawyers provide brief legal information and advice. It takes less than 5 minutes to register, and you can immediately browse the queue of questions and pick one that fits your interest. You can take up to 3 days to research a response. To register, visit
    • Lawyer on the Line is a partnership of the North Carolina Bar Foundation and Legal Aid of North Carolina. It gives private lawyers an easy and rewarding ​way to provide basic legal advice and service to Legal Aid clients. Lawyer on the Line volunteers serve thousands of clients every year who have nowhere else to turn. For more information, visit
  3. Don’t Put Things Off Because You Have “Time.” We all have a lot of time right now. Who knows how much longer we are going to be in our houses until “normal” life resumes? If you have work to do that can be done today, don’t wait until tomorrow because when a new meeting or assignment pops up, you will be happy you finished your work today.
  4. Be Present. Are you watching the news while you work? Or maybe you have your favorite show on mute in the background during a Zoom call. It’s very easy to sit on your couch and work while watching Netflix, but that doesn’t mean you should. The news will still be there once you finish your work. Focus on the task at hand. It takes longer to do your work if you have the news on or have your favorite show on in the background. Treat your workspace as if you were at work.
  5. Is Your Workspace Not Working? Your workspace is important. If you don’t have a home office and you now have a makeshift home office, treat it as only a workspace. Do not eat your meals at your workspace (unless that’s part of your routine). Do not take personal phone calls at your workspace. Do not spend an hour watching your favorite sitcom at your workspace. Wherever your workspace, try and keep it for work only.
  6. Maintain Your Immunity and Sanity. Plain and simple, eat healthy and lay off the junk food. Harvard Health says it best: “Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies such as these: Don’t smoke. Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Exercise regularly.” In addition to eating healthy, do something that makes you happy every day. Read the book from Amazon that has been sitting on the shelf since you unboxed it last year! Go for a walk (staying six feet away from others of course)! Bake something! Make up a game that you and your kids can play with once work is done! Whatever it is, make time for yourself, too.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. I truly hope it helps you in this unprecedented pandemic. Stay safe and I hope you have enough toilet paper!