So you’re working from home, now? While it may have been your secret dream to stay at home working in your pjs, when you actually have to work from home day after day, it can become a little less glamorous.
I’ve been a work from home veteran since late 2015, and in 5+ years, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to be successful. Here are a few of my favorite “work from home” tips that can aide you in making the transition.
By setting up a few new routines and habits, you’ll get more done in less time, make your day-to-day more manageable, and ease your adjustment into your new normal, even if it’s only temporary.
What time do you get up in the morning? What’s the first thing you do each day?
When at all possible, keep these elements consistent. You’ll anchor the start of your day in a way that gives your system a sense of what to expect. Even if the rest of your day is a roller coaster, if you can anchor into a morning routine (and evening, too, for extra credit!) you’ll thank yourself.
It doesn’t have to be lengthy, but if you can give yourself something to count on, and a way in which you can keep a “promise” to yourself, you’ll feel better throughout your day. (This is actually a secret to building your confidence, too.)
When working from home, your daily routine is key. If you don’t have a CEO Schedule consider creating one right away. A CEO Schedule is a rigid yet flexible system that guides your work week.
You create a plan that will give you time for everything that must be done, but leave it flexible enough to adapt to the unexpected challenges or your creative whims throughout the day. Your day to day routine might change, but with a CEO Schedule, that’s okay.
Here’s the truth: some days the schedule falls to pieces before you even begin. That’s okay.
Be patient and kind with yourself. Remember that much of your time during your work week was actually filled with less than stellar productivity anyway (you can admit it — safe space here!). If you have a bad work day once in a while, the world won’t end.
Make a commitment to yourself to get back on track as soon as you’re able, and give yourself some grace.
If you’re not the only person in your family working from home, you can trade off your break times with your at home “co-worker.” Especially if there are kiddos or pets involved, it can be so helpful to trade off, allowing each person to get a longer stretch of concentrated work done while the other takes care of things around the house.
Communication here is key, but if you can work together throughout your day, you’ll both benefit from supporting the other throughout your work week.
Here’s the deal. Pajamas are awesome, but they don’t scream professional. No matter what type of work you’re doing from home, I know you care about it and want to approach it with a level of seriousness. And you can’t do that in pajamas.
Yes, it shouldn’t matter, but it affects how you feel, which ultimately, affects how you show up in the world. That doesn’t mean you can’t wear comfortable clothes while you work, but if you’re still wearing your pjs at 3pm, you’re not taking yourself very seriously.
Confession: I wear slippers while I work, which I do consider totally acceptable. 😄
This might seem like a funny tip to have on the list, but in my experience, having a clean kitchen really helps my day go smoothly. When the sink is cluttered with dirty dishes, I find myself eating less healthy food throughout the day, and the mess seems to multiply.
By the time dinnertime rolls around, it always seems like the entire house has become a whirlwind mess. And by the end of the day, things are totally off the rails, completely chaotic and then the whole cycle starts again.
So if you have a dishwasher, use it. If not, clean up after yourself quickly throughout the day so you can avoid dinnertime meltdowns.
I also personally feel like a cluttered kitchen yields a cluttered mind, and that’s hardly the energy I want to bring to my workday.
Hey listen, if you can work with Netflix on in the background, be my guest. But if you’re anything like me, it’s hard to focus when things get interesting on the screen. (I’m not following my own advice right now, and I’m trying to write this blog post with Mary Poppins on in the background. I keep getting distracted and either having to stop writing or hit pause on Mary and Bert mid-song.)
All I’m suggesting here is that, if background noise is drawing your attention and focus away from your work, you’re wasting time.
Did you know that every time you get distracted, you can lose as much as 25 minutes getting refocused?! I know. I didn’t believe it either. But test it out some time.
When I get distracted it triggers a sequence of: check phone and get sucked into responding, take bathroom break, take puppy for a potty break, get a drink of water, remember that my unfinished coffee’s in my office, retrieve said coffee for a warm up…. You get the point.
Realize that distractions and constantly shifting tasks and energies is costing you valuable time all day long that could be used on people or things you love, or on getting ahead on a big-picture project. If you can set yourself up with fewer voluntary distractions, you’ll save time for the distractions that are beyond your control.
Okay, even if you can only go outside to a porch or balcony, getting outside for a breath of fresh air can make all the difference in your day. Sometimes the weather is crappy, sure. But most crappy weather can be taken on with a warm coat, boots, an umbrella, or a combination.
If you can get some actual exercise outside, that’s even more helpful, but that’s not always possible. In lieu of exercise, getting a breath of fresh air can help clear your head, shake off the stress of the day, or otherwise relax.
I know this is another one you wouldn’t expect to see on a list like this, but I truly believe that if you start your work day worrying about what you’ll have for dinner, you’re already behind. The 3pm panic is real, and if running to the store is out of the picture and you’re tired of take out, planning meals ahead of time can be the solve.
Yes, we’re food focused around here, but I truly believe that always knowing what I’m making for dinner is one of my greatest assets.
There are so many websites available that provide meal plans, or you can piece together your own by spending a little time over the weekend before you launch into your workweek.
But here’s why it really matters. When working from home, getting breakfast or lunch “out” is a lot less convenient. So when your dinner plan can include lunch leftovers, you’re winning. When you don’t want to stop to fix yourself lunch, you can pop a container from last night’s meal into the microwave, and you’re off and running.
(Hint: This is especially key if you’re feeding more than just yourself. No plan = hungry (hangry) humans, which can totally derail a workday)
This isn’t always possible, but if you can swing an internet speed upgrade, now’s definitely the time. When we first moved into our new townhouse, my sweetie suggested we needed gigabit internet. He claimed it was for me and my business (whereas I suspected he just wanted an upgraded experience for XBox!), but I agreed.
I joke that my internet is fast enough to pilot a spaceship. But what I don’t experience is downtime, inconsistency, or poor video connections. This matters more than ever because I meet a majority of my clients over Zoom.
If you have faster service available in your area, it might be worth an inquiry on the cost of an upgrade to ease your frustration and help you be more efficient.
While we’d all love to have a swoon-worthy Pinterest work space, the reality is that it’s unlikely your workspace will be featured in a magazine spread this week. So while pretty would be awesome, productive is the goal. Consider light, noise, and clutter levels when selecting your space. If you can get something done, your space is good enough.
Now might be a good time to consider a short-term house makeover — rearranging furniture can make a huge difference. If you expect your work-from-home stint to be short lived, making quick adjustments to your environment can keep things affordable. Flexibility is key when you’re in a pinch, so just because a certain room or piece of furniture is “supposed to be” used a certain way, don’t rule out a short term adjustment if it makes life more liveable now.
If you’re not used to working from home, be patient with yourself. As a 5-year veteran of being home all day, every day, I’m the first to admit I still have days where I want to get out of the house. If leaving isn’t really a possibility, definitely take advantage of the outdoors (tip #7).
Need more personalized tips. Head on over to my IG and send me a DM. We can work together to craft your work from home success strategy.