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?
15 thoughts on “How to Work From Home and Not Go Crazy – 10 Simple Tips”
I never thought I could work from home, until we moved from Chicago for residency and I couldn’t imagine leaving my current job. Honestly, it’s not a permanent option, but I’ve used all of the above the last 2 years. One thing I definitely do is try and meet up with a friend once a week for lunch to make sure I get out of the house.
Getting out of the house is KEY. I went for a walk today and it did wonders for my mood!
I’m the opposite – I don’t think I can go into an office again! My most productive work times are 11a-2p and 11p-2a, so the flexibility is key. And I just like working in my underwear and going to the gym for 2 hours in the middle of the afternoon. Haha!
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Hey, whatever works for you! And I love the extra flexibility. I’m sure I’ll miss that the most when I’m back in an office.
This is all so true! I work from home most of the time, but go into the office once or twice a week. That little foray into the outside world really keeps me from getting into a rut and feeling trapped inside, especially in winter when it’s my natural inclination to hibernate.
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Oh man, I’m glad the weather is what it is here in FL. Not sure if I could work from home 100% of the time in the depths of winter.
My mum is a firm believer in getting dressed for the day – make up, day-clothes – even if it means a day at home. I’ve adopted her mantra which came in handy when I was at home on maternity leave for a year, and also take a lot of inspiration from http://dailyconnoisseur.blogspot.co.uk/
Your mom is a smart woman! Dressing for the day makes a huge difference in how I feel. AND it gets me out of the house too.
Great tips here, P- I definitely agree with them all, and seriously do the coffee shop shindig- It works wonders!
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I plan to…soon!
As somebody who works from home, I really resonated a lot while reading this post. Like you said, wearing “normal” clothes goes a long way in terms of how you feel about both yourself and the work at hand. Maybe it’s all psychological but I definitely feel more productive on the days I’m wearing real clothes. Lately I’ve been using the flexibility of working from home to my advantage by working out mid-morning. I find the little break really helps keep me focused.
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Real clothes are now a must for me. And I agree – my mid-afternoon workouts/walks give me energy and make the rest of the afternoon fly by.
Solid advice! I’ve only worked from home twice since starting a new position but was nodding along through this whole post. I like the flexibility but was nervous about being productive – I found that I’m hyper aware of dishes in my sink, laundry piling up, etc so I’ll definitely employ some of these tips next time I’m working from home to stay focused!
Yes! Great way to put it – hyper aware. I’m better about it now, but when I first started this new routine, everything had to be perfect before I could really focus.
I would love to work from home. I’ve only had to do it once and I actually found that I was more productive at home than in the office go figure. Probably because I was more comfortable in my own home than in the cubicle I sit in everyday that out in the open.
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