To say the past few days have been overwhelming is an understatement. I know things are stressful and confusing right now. A lot of the working (and academic) world is required to hole up at home and work remotely, which may be something that is a completely new rhythm for some people. However, this isn’t my first rodeo working remote. While spending my first months in NYC freelancing, I got pretty good at learning how to work from home successfully. So I figured I would share with you some of my working from home tips that can guide you into a healthier, happier workday.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I already shared some of these tips on there. I did a poll and asked my followers if they would find a blog post helpful with these tips, and over 90 percent of my followers said yes. So here is that same list of my top tips in regards to working from home successfully, as well as a few extras that can guide you throughout the weeks—or months—ahead.
Make the bed
I get it, you’re not having guests over, so what’s the point in making your bed in the first place? Here’s the point: If your bed is beautifully made, you’re less likely to hop in it. I’m serious! If your work station is as close to mine to the bed (my bed is literally right behind me), you’ll probably be tempted to hop in the late afternoon to “work” which, let’s be real, turns into a quick nap. So get out of bed, make it, and leave it for the rest of the day.
I know the idea of working at home in your pajamas sounds ideal, but I’m telling you right now, it’s a trick. When you leave your pajamas on, you stay in this state of relaxation and sleepiness—which doesn’t exactly brew productivity. I have no scientific background to prove this, but it’s always been true of my mental well being.
Even if I don’t plan on leaving my apartment, I get dressed for a few reasons:
- I’m respecting the work I’m about to do by showing up looking (and feeling) presentable.
- My mindset shifts when I’m dressed for the day. I feel alert and ready to tackle my work rather than feeling comfy and, to be quite honest, lazy.
- I’m less likely to unmake my bed and get in it if I have a nice outfit on.
Do I get full on dolled up? Heck no! My typical outfit includes a sweater (or a nice shirt and a cardigan), jeans, comfy socks, and I do something with my hair. No need for makeup or jewelry, what I do is more than enough to get myself in the working mindset.
Have a morning routine
You don’t have time to commute when you’re working from home—yay! But that doesn’t mean you should just roll out of bed and start working. Having a commute is nice because it can wake you up and get your brain going before hopping on to your computer. Do the same at home! My morning routine looks a little something like this:
- 7:30 am: Workout for 30 minutes
- 8 am: Shower, get dressed, make the bed
- 8:15 am: Make breakfast/coffee
- 8:30 am: Enjoy breakfast, spend some time journaling/praying
- 9 am: Log onto the computer and start working
My morning routine looks a lot similar during the week when I commute, but it’s about 30 minutes earlier and I spend my time reading or praying on the subway. Take some time right now and designate a routine for yourself.
Set up a designated workspace
This goes back to the whole “don’t work in your bed” thing, but I feel it is worth mentioning again. When you have a designated spot to get your work done, it’s easier to leave that spot come the end of your work day. This also sets a mental boundary for yourself and removes your bed and your couch as places where you work, because in those off hours, you’ll feel like you should be working. Don’t do it! Save the bed and the couch as your places to rest and relax, not to work. Set up at your table or at a desk in your home, and at the end of the day, clean it up like you’re leaving the office.
Don’t sit on the couch
I know that couch is looking real comfy come 3 pm, but stay away! I used to sit down on the couch to finish up an article and found myself falling asleep (yes, really), or turning on Netflix thinking I could “do both at the same time.” Update: I was incredibly unsuccessful at that one.
The couch is great to take breaks on, but not to work at. Honestly, if the couch is the only possible place you can work (like if you don’t have a table or desk), then I even suggest you setting up on a rug on the floor instead. Just prop your laptop up on a stool (or even that Amazon box you have yet to recycle) and work. You’ll feel even more productive on the floor than on the couch—I know from experience.
Keep your work area clean
This may be more of a personal preference thing, but when I come to a clean desk at the beginning of the workday I feel less haphazard. So at the end of each workday, I clean up my workspace. I remove all of my dishes, any extra papers, and even put my glasses back in the case! Honestly, I even do this with my desk at work. It completely changes how I feel in the morning, and how I handle the rest of my day.
Only be in the kitchen for designated meal times
When I first started working remote, I had a snacking problem. I would just sit on my couch and work, eat a bag of chips, and find that the “family size” bag would be gone soon enough. No, no. Not great.
This is why I set specific times when I actually walk into the kitchen throughout the day. I only step into the kitchen at the following times.
- 8:15 am: Breakfast
- 1 pm: Lunch
- 4 pm: Snack
- 8pm: Dinner
Obviously these times will vary based on my work flow. Like if I’m done with a project at 12:30, sometimes I’ll eat lunch then instead of hopping into something new. But the idea of having designated times to eat specific meals helps me to not walk into my kitchen at random times and snack throughout the day.
Set a meal plan, and stick to it
Maybe it doesn’t feel necessary to have a meal plan when you’re working from home. But if you’re treating your work day at home similar to working in an office, then you should treat your food the same way too. Plus, by having designated times when you’re eating your meals, it’s also helpful to have easy meals you can grab and simply cook or heat up.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Breakfast: Avocado Toast, Chia Seed Pudding, Breakfast Strata, Cottage Cheese Pancakes, Whole Wheat Waffles, Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins
- Lunch: Buffalo Chicken Meatball Bowl, Kale Apple Salad, Goddess Arugula Bowl, Lemon Arugula Salad,
- Dinner: Creamy Tuscan Chicken, Kale Parmesan Flatbread, Chicken Thigh Sheet Pan Dinner, Margherita Pizza, Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese, Pesto Chicken, Steak Noodle Stir Fry, Butternut Squash and Kale Pizza, Chicken Fajita Quesadillas
- Snacks: Veggies & Guacamole, Prosciutto Cucumber Bites, Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Dip, Apple or banana with peanut butter, cheese sticks
Don’t eat at your desk
This is true if you’re working from home or even working in an office! Your food breaks are breaks. Take your lunch, even if you’re at home. Turn your mind off for a minute and think about something else—or nothing at all. Your brain is working hard all day, give it some time to rest while you fuel your body.
In that same vein, it’s important to take breaks throughout the day—and this one I have scientific proof of. According to Psychology Today, breaks can help with decision fatigue, long-term motivation, boosts creativity, and can even improve your learning.
Keep work to work hours
You deserve to set a 9 to 5 at home, just like the rest of the world! Your home is still your home, and you should enjoy it as a place of relaxation at the end (and beginning) of your day. Working from home doesn’t mean you work all hours of the day, it means you work during your designated hours at home. It’s simple—walk away at the proper time, and walk back at the proper time.
By setting a boundary where you only work at your designated work area, it’s easier to feel at ease in the other areas of your home and not feel the strain of having to constantly be working.
Move your body
Listen to me—you need to move your body. Even in a quarantine. Turn on a workout app and get your body moving, right now. Here are some of my favorites where you can workout right at home.
- Beachbody On Demand – it’s like Netflix, but workouts. I’m obsessed with it.
- Tone It Up – they’re offering a free 30-day trial of their fitness app right now
- Blogilates – free pilates online, she’s awesome
You can also go for a walk, a run, a bike ride, or something else outside to actually get out of your apartment for the day. But if you’re quarantined, make sure you are careful and safe.
I hope these tips are helpful! Please share these with a friend who is also struggling to work from home. And as always, I am here to help you. Shoot me a message on Instagram, send me an email, or simply comment below.
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