Ahhh. The luxury of working from home – er, is it? For some, working from home is the dream goal in life while others may struggle with the lack of routine, social interaction and separation of “home” from “work.” Sound familiar?
From home, the world is yours. Toss a professional top on for conference calls, while still playing it cool with your pj pants and fuzzy slippers on. Waddle to the fridge when hunger strikes – or is that boredom rumbling in my stomach? Hard to say. Get the laundry done while you brush up on your Google Analytics cert. Answer emails from the couch – but ow! Is that a crick in my neck? Check: posture.
To stay sane while working from home, follow a routine, set boundaries and remember that working from home does not mean you need to be working all the time! Here’s our take on essential steps to take at home to leave you feeling productive and happy.
1. Start the night before
You wouldn’t go on a road trip without Google maps or a way to get to your final destination, right? Treat your work the same way.
Before you go to bed, make a list of the things you need to get done the following day. Physically write them down (try to avoid that blue light) and create subtasks that will help you accomplish each project.
Writing down your “to-do” items will also help you sleep better – knowing that you won’t forget that one late night thought you didn’t jot down.
2. wake up at the same time
One of the most important components of routine is, consistency. Try to set your alarm for the same time every day. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl doesn’t matter – consistency does. So if it’s 6 am or 11 am, set that alarm, don’t hit snooze, and rise & shine.
3. Drink a glass of water + don't touch that phone!
Wait, hold up! Before you reach for that phone and start scrolling – head to the kitchen and drink a glass of lemon water to kick start your day. While there is no scientific proof that a glass of water in the morning is better for you than consistent water throughout the day – a glass first thing in the morn will help you wake up and feel refreshed. Plus, there are some benefits a zing of lemon in your glass: aids in digestion, helps you stay hydrated, prevents oxidation, supplies a healthy dose of vitamin C, provides a potassium boost, and helps prevent kidney stones.
4. Meditate, journal or workout
Still don’t touch that phone. Studies show that reaching for your devices first thing in the morning induce stress and anxiety.
Additionally, when you check your socials, emails and those blue dots in your texts, your thinking becomes polluted. All of a sudden, your mind is stimulated by other people’s agendas, asks, opinions – and you lose track of your own thought processes. Instead of kicking off the day with an intention on your own goals, you’re beginning your day distracted by others’.
Instead, try journaling, meditating or getting a workout in to boost your productivity and wake up your mind, body and soul.
5. Set up your work station - in a dedicated space
Your home is your sanctuary, a place to relax and unwind. Try to keep your work from home life separate from you. If available, choose a separate room as a dedicated workspace where you can close the door to keep biz IN and the rest, OUT. If you don’t have a room for an office try these ideas: a spare corner, a large storage closet or pantry, the kitchen table, basement, heated garage, backyard table (if the weather is nice).
Ultimately – avoid working in places like your couch and your bed. While that sounds heavenly to some, mentally, your brain will have a hard time distinguishing the function of each area of your home which can lead to sleep and full relaxation issues.
6. Commit to time blocks
Grab that to-do list you created the night before and begin prioritizing. The key to accomplishing tasks is time blocking. What’s that? Think of it as mini-challenges throughout the day where you push yourself to accomplish a project or task within a certain time frame, before you move on to the next task. Timers, hour glasses or a modern time-blocking app are great ways to keep track of your time blocks and stay focused.
Dive further into time blocking with this in-depth how-to article and app ideas from Zapier.com.
7. Play task appropriate music
Did you know playing tunes can drastically improve productivity? Well, that’s music to our ears! Music promotes stress relief, focus and creates a literal soundtrack to our days. Depending on the task at-hand, choose music that aligns. Will pumped pop help you crank out a redundant task or perhaps classical notes are the call for heads-down grind work.
Check out these 6 types of music known to increase productivity from our friends at entrepreneur.com!
8. Pause to eat
Don’t stay hunkered at your computer during lunch or a snack. Use the call of hunger as your body’s natural notification system to step away for a moment, refuel, then get back to business. Give your body and mind time to digest, then come back focused on the next set of tasks. Not only will your focus improve, but you also eat slower when there isn’t a screen in front of your face distracting you – be nice to your digestive tract and focus on eating and hydrating, without the blue light glow.
9. Prioritize ergonomics
Avoid the dreaded crick in neck and lower back pain pitfalls of working from home. Prioritizing ergonomics into your set up will help you prevent stress and work-related injury. Here are a few tips to keep on hand when analyzing your work station:
- Change your posture often
- Support your feet
- Raise your monitor (with a box, books or this collapsable laptop stand)
- Use an external keyboard and mouse
- Invest in a comfortable chair that supports good posture
10. Set your "stop" time
It’s easy to get caught up in the flow and before you know it you’ve worked into the late hours of the evening. Unlike the cue of people leaving the office, it can be difficult to identify “closing time” when you’re working from home.
Setting a definitive stop time will help you primarily stay on track throughout the day and secondly, clear your mind to rejuvenate for the demands of the following day’s work. Define your stop time by projects completed or set a certain time on the clock to just be done and avoid the “always-on” feeling that can often ensue from a home-based office.