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18 journalism work-from-home tips from the LION Publishers community

Chris Krewson
Mar 11 · 3 min read
Photo by Sean MacEntee, used under a Creative Commons license via flickr.

The job of a Local Independent Online News Publisher is often a work-from-home one. Our members have been running their own publications in this manner for up to a decade; with the effects of COVID-19 spreading rapidly across the country, thousands of journalists are now joining them.

We thought it would be valuable to solicit some tips from among our membership; those suggestions are below.

— Chris Krewson, Executive Director
LION Publishers

“1. Avoid the temptation of letting your kids be at home with you during the day. Unless they’re like … 16 or older. Send em to daycare like usual.
2. Download a call recording app on your smart phone. I use Tape-a-Call. I think it was like $10 to buy, and then then is free to use.
3. Designate a ‘work space.’ You can work with your laptop literally on your lap on the couch for some of the time, for low-maintenance tasks maybe, but to be most productive, set aside a specific place where Work is.
4. Take lunch breaks like you normally would. Even to the point of packing lunch in the morning. Otherwise you’ll snack all day.
5. Take housework breaks, if you need to. If that stack of laundry in the corner of your eye is haunting you, take a half hour and go take care of it, with the understanding that maybe you’ll make up that half hour later in the evening.
6. Stay healthy! Take a walk, hydrate. It’s easy to become a little slothful at home.
7. Make sure your internet is fast and reliable. Run a speed test and invest in an upgraded Wifi router if you need to.”

— Rob Chappell, Madison365, Madison, WI

“8. Take a shower, make coffee, fix a light breakfast and get dressed before you sit down to work.
9. Take a long walk every day to clear your head.
10. Get a headset for your phone so you don’t get a major crick in your neck.
11. Make your workspace bright. Turn on lights, open the curtains, open a window for fresh air.”

— Cynthia Prairie, The Chester Telegraph, Chester, VT

“12. Shower and get dressed as if you’re going to the office. That laundry pile noted above is a great one for keeping hands busy as you talk to co-workers to check in.
13. Slack or text frequently to check in with co-workers. It’s important to keep the info flow moving. I bought myself a Logitech K380 keyboard that can talk to up to three devices, so I use it with my phone and iPad to largely text/ slack, etc. makes that process faster. BUT, when you need to focus, turn the devices OFF!”

— Rosemary Hoban, North Carolina Health News, Chapel Hill, NC

“14. To avoid feelings of isolation, work from coffee shops when possible (if you’re not in quarantine) and schedule regular calls/Zooms with coworkers. I like to work from my backyard deck to just be outside when the weather is nice, which is a mood booster.”

— Kelsey Ryan, The Beacon, Kansas City, MO

“15. I’ve been working mainly from home for 20 years and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I make sure I have a few coffee shop meetings every week. I don’t open my computer until I am out of my pajamas — although I do sometimes start work after a run or workout and then it gets too easy to put off a shower!
16. I use the headphones from my iPhone for calls so I have hands free.
17. And my kids are older but I have a puppy and use my supply of bully sticks when she needs to be distracted from trying to play fetch during a phone interview!”

Ronni Zimbler Newton, We-Ha.com, South Glastonbury, CT

“18. From a health standpoint, you move around way less working from home than you do physically commuting to and walking around an office. I try to do one call a day while walking. I keep 5 lb dumbbells by my laptop for quick bursts of curls or presses in between tasks. And most importantly, stand and stretch like every hour because hunching over your laptop is an awesome way to ruin your back.”

Ashley Woods Branch, Detour Media, Detroit, MI

LION Publishers

Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers is a…

Chris Krewson

Written by

Executive director, LION Publishers; happily married suburban dad; Penn State alum; mildly obsessive about digital journalism. Let’s start a local news site!

LION Publishers

Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers is a journalism association helping local news entrepreneurs build and grow financially sustainable small businesses.

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