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How are you guys holding up this week?
I know that everyone’s life has changed over the past week, in one way or another. As social distancing becomes the new normal, I want to produce some content over the next few weeks, like sharing realistic work from home tips, to help you ease into your new daily routines. The transition from office life to working from home isn’t easy, so I understand some of the struggles that some of you are facing ahead. I’ve been working from home for a little over three years now, and it took me a while to adjust and figure out how to stay motivated.
I’m not going to share my exact daily WFM schedule since being a blogger is a unique career. However, here are some general tips and tricks that will make working from home a whole lot easier.
Realistic Work From Home Tips
Get Up and Change Before Your Workday
Trust me: if you roll out of bed in your PJs straight to your computer, you won’t feel like you’re in a “working mood.” You’ll just want to go back to bed!
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you have to put on a suit while you’re working from home. But at the very least, get up each morning, wash your face, shower (if you do that in the AM), and put on a change of clothes before you start your workday. Your change of clothes could be anything: a comfy t-shirt dress, jeans, joggers, a daytime set of PJs…the options are endless! I usually work out around lunchtime, so I’ll get up and change into my workout gear before I begin my workday. You can still dress for success from the comfort of your own home.
Set Up a Designated “Office Space”
One thing I quickly learned when I started working from home? I’m not productive when I try to work from the couch.
For me, mentally, the couch has always been a place for me to relax. When I try to sit on the couch with my laptop and get work done, chances are, I’ll end up scrolling through social media for a bit longer than anticipated, I’ll get tempted to watch TV, and I’ll start to think of chores I can do in my living room/kitchen area. It ends up being incredibly unproductive, every time I attempt it.
If you don’t have a home office, there are some other ways you can set up a workspace in your home. In the past, I’ve turned my dining room table into a makeshift office: having a proper table and chair to work from makes me feel more like I’m in an office, and you can easily pack up and store your computer/other office supplies once the workday is over, and head to your living room couch to destress. I think a clear separation of home and office is necessary because you want to remain productive during office hours and be able to relax and destress from work after you log off for the day.
Write a To-Do List Each Morning to Stay On Track
How do I stay motivated and on track every day? Every morning, I’ll start off each day by writing a to-do list. I have my “Top 3,” which are three essential things that I have to get done during the day. Then, I’ll go ahead and write a list of “Would Be Nice” tasks, which are things that I need to work on, but will likely not finish by EOD. If I have extra time, I’ll work on those projects.
I usually have urgent emails and tasks pop up throughout the day, and sometimes it’s easy to get off track when you have to drop everything you’re doing and attend to those tasks. However, I always keep my Top 3 in mind, and in the long run, focusing on the completion of three big tasks each day has been super beneficial.
Make Sure to Take Breaks
When I first started working from home, I was so excited that I was blogging full-time, that I found myself glued to my computer nearly all day, pushing myself to get things done. If I was on a roll with writing a post or pitching, and I wouldn’t want to take any breaks. I only took a “lunch break” when I got a gnawing feeling in my stomach, but I’d usually make myself food, bring it straight back to my desk, and didn’t spend much time away from my desk.
I quickly learned that it wasn’t healthy for me to skip breaks during the workday. When you’re in an office, you’ll get up and socialize with your coworkers during the day, but when you’re at home working on your own, you don’t have that luxury. Nothing really entices you to get up, walk around, or relax your mind a bit. Having an Apple Watch helps because it will notify me to stand up at the end of the hour if I haven’t moved from my desk in a while. I make it a point to take a quick 10-minute break once every hour. During this break, I might grab a snack or a glass of water, walk around the house, make a phone call, or even have a quick solo dance party!
I also try to take a proper lunch break, sometime between 12-2 pm. If I notice a lull in the workday or if I’m at a good stopping point, I’ll give myself a full hour to unwind and decompress. I’ll either head down to my kitchen and make a meal at home, or I’ll go out for a lunchtime workout or meal (but please, just work out from home during the social distancing period!) Sometimes I’ll call my mom or a friend, go for a quick walk around my neighborhood, maybe I’ll even watch a quick 30 minute TV show. It’s your hour to do whatever you want to do — make sure you give yourself that hour!
Schedule Calls & Video Conferences for Human Interaction
I always knew that I was outgoing, but I didn’t realize how social I was until I started working from home. Shortly afterward, I started going a bit stir-crazy and craved human interaction during the workday.
I might not have coworkers, but during the workday, I try to set up calls with my manager to catch up on projects rather than emails — just so I could hear a voice and engage in some friendly banter during the workday. I also set up FaceTime calls with my other blog friends who live across the country (Greta, I’m looking at you!) It’s great to talk to someone else in the industry and get their perspective on current/upcoming projects, and vent if need be.
Once this social distancing period comes to a close, if you are still working from home and find yourself craving more social interaction during the workday, I’d highly recommend working outside of the home a few days a week at a coffee shop, doing a lunchtime workout, or running errands during breaks to get out and about.
Set Clear Office Hours
Real talk: it isn’t cute to work 12-hour workdays…every single day. Are they needed sometimes? Yes. But not every day!
I’m based on the East Coast, and I’ve always liked to follow a 9-6 work schedule. It allows me to go to blog events after work or catch up with friends at a happy hour when they clock out for the day. Plus, I get hungry around 7, so it’s nice to start prepping for dinner after 6 pm. I’m based on the East Coast, and I have a lot of clients who are on the West Coast, and when I first started blogging full-time, I found myself on my computer until 7 or 8 at night answering emails because I had last-minute requests come in right when I wanted to log off for the day.
For my sanity, I log off at 6 or 6:30 pm each day. Sometimes I need to work past 6 pm, but I try not to do this more than once a week for my sanity. Additionally, if I know I need to work past 6 pm or am awaiting feedback from the West Coast, I’ll take a longer lunch break or start my day later. However, it’s important to set up “office hours” as much as possible and stick to them! Having some sort of daily routine is going to be very beneficial during this social distancing period.
What are your realistic work from home tips? Let me know in a comment below!
Photos by Tom McGovern