I’ve been working from home full-time since June of this year. And at first, I was really excited. In my head, that meant not having to dress up every day, not having to wear makeup, squeezing in a lunchtime workout every now and then, sleeping in a little bit later, not having a commute (!!!), etc. While it’s still amazing that I was able to keep my job with this one year move, the novelty wore off quickly.
Truth be told, I’m not one of those people who can permanently work from home. I need an office to go to every now and then. I want to see and interact with other people. I want to take coffee breaks with my colleagues.
I’m no dummy though. I realize how lucky I am to be able to keep my job, work from home for a year, and transition to the Chicago office next year. BLESSING!
I’ve also come to realize that I haven’t done my part in this whole working from home transition. I just expected it to be perfect, and as we all know, that’s not how the world works. You have to put in the effort to get the results you want.
And in this case, it’s fairly doable. Working from home (at least temporarily) can be pretty great if you take some simple steps to set yourself up for success.
Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the past few months.
1. Try your best to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day.
Even though I’m one of the most structured people I know, I haven’t been the best at this. And when Vishnu’s schedule isn’t “normal,” I absolutely suck. But I’ve come to realize that it’s probably one of the, if not the, most important and helpful things you can do when working from home. Personally, when I have set schedule, I feel more productive. So create a schedule for yourself and stick to it!
2. Have a morning routine.
I look forward to my morning routine because it’s my one constant. Again, depending on Vishnu’s schedule, this can look different from month to month. But for the most part, I wake up, make Vishnu breakfast, work out, shower, eat breakfast, write in my gratitude journal, and start work. This not only helps with productivity, but it ensures that your day starts off with a few great accomplishments. And who doesn’t love that!
3. Dress for the day.
Up until a couple of weeks ago, I wore my PJs/workout clothes ALL DAY EVERY DAY. I didn’t realize what a negative impact this was having on me until I took the initiative to dress for the day and wear “normal” clothes (i.e. jeans/leggings and a casual top). I feel better about myself, I’m happier, etc. Dressing for the day makes me feel like the professional that I am.
4. Ensure that your home office is “you.”
I don’t have a home office. I have a corner of our bedroom. BUT, I’ve done everything in my power to make my corner my own. I have little trinkets and picture frames on my desk, I have my file folders all set up, I have two screens (thanks to Vishnu). Having my own space keeps me organized. And it brings an element of fun to the day. I may not have an office to go to, but I do have a pretty great corner!
5. Find a non-home office place to work from.
I’m going to be 100% honest here – I have yet to do this. But I totally see the value and benefit in working from a cute little coffee shop for a few hours a week. It changes things up and gives you something to look forward to.
6. Schedule regular catch-up calls with coworkers and/or friends.
Working from home can bring on feelings of loneliness. My weekly catch-up calls keep me sane and help me feel connected. A must do if you’re working from home 100% of the time.
7. Get up every 30 minutes and walk around your house/apartment.
We all know sitting for extended periods of time is physically unhealthy. Well, after working from home for a few months, I’ve come to realize it’s mentally unhealthy as well. When I sit at my computer for hours at a time, I literally (ok, not literally but you know!) feel my brain turning to mush. But when I get up and walk around, I feel energized and focused. This is a simple tip that goes a long way. And if you’re looking for a great little tool to keep track of time, I recommend this one.
8. Enjoy your lunch break.
This one is easy for me because my stomach’s rumbling by lunchtime. But I know how easy it it is to make lunch and eat it in front of the computer while doing work. Don’t! Take a true break for 30 minutes to an hour and enjoy it. It’s your right! My lunchtime routine includes making lunch and watching Chopped on Food Network.
9. Get some fresh air every now and then.
I’m not proud to admit it, but there are times when I don’t go outside for days. Sure, I’ll go to the apartment gym or go check the mail, but that doesn’t count. I’ve come to realize how important it is to go OUTSIDE, walk around a little, and breathe in fresh air. This is another one of those things that keeps you sane and helps you feel connected.
10. Unless there’s a work emergency that needs to be taken care of, when you shutdown at the end of the day, keep it that way!
When I worked from our Miami office, I found that it was easier for me to shutdown at 5:30, go home, and not think about work until the next day (with a few exceptions). But now, it’s a bit harder. I find myself checking my email after dinner and responding to things that can clearly wait. It’s not a good habit because it feels like you’re never really turned off. Working from home does not equal working all the time. It’s easy to blur the lines, but again, in order to stay sane and not feel overworked, you have to shutdown and keep it that way.
What’s your day job? Do you work from home? If so, any tips?