It has been two years since I started working from home. It’s awesome to see how when I first started working from home only 1 or two friends did as well and now most of them have the option to do it a few times a week – even in their corporate job.
Now that working from home has become so common, I thought this would be a great time to write about my tips for making it a productive and beneficial experience.
Working from home has so many awesome benefits, but you can’t ignore the struggles that come with it. One of the first things that I noticed that I REALLY missed was the social aspect of going into the office. It’s kind of crazy how just random side conversations with coworkers can really make a day go by faster.
Another frustration was how some friends or family members assumed I worked less than they did. The truth is that at the end of the day – we’re probably all working about the same amount – just at different times of the day.
Set Boundaries with friends and family
One of the first things that happens when you work from home is you suddenly start receiving phone calls in the middle of the day, offers for lunch dates come streaming in and family may ask for you to help out with something.
Each one of those things is one of the best parts of working from home, but it can take a toll on your productivity.
Your friends and family might just be assuming that now that you work from home you have a totally flexible schedule, but that’s just not always the case.
It’s important to set boundaries from the beginning so that they know which days of the week and time of day are busiest for you.
If this is something that you haven’t really figured out how to handle, setting “office hours” or “free hours” and letting them know if they need to call you or meet up for lunch or coffee, those are the magical times to do it.
Join a community of others who work from home
It has helped me so much to be a part of a network of women in Kansas City who also work from home. For me, they’ve replaced the “co-worker” thing and have been a great way to meet new people and find more people who have day-to-day work lifestyle in common with me.
If you’re like me and need to be around people, volunteering can be a great way to get out of the house and decompress from work. This is why I started coaching cheerleading at my old high school and it has made a huge difference in making sure I get out of the house no matter what.
Also, because volunteer hours are usually specific to the organization, it can help you structure your day better.
Create a morning routine you love
Creating a morning routine has been imperative to being productive while working from home. The weeks when I am consistently sticking to my morning routine, I see a massive uptick in my productivity with less stress as a result. When my morning routine is off – it shows in just about every aspect of my life.
The great thing about working from home is that you have so much more flexibility on your morning routine so show gratitude for that and really create a morning routine that you love. Knowing that I don’t have to run out the door means that I can start my day slowly and calmly.
Two things that I can’t live without in my morning routine are my Nespresso with almond milk and meditation.
Use your calendar and time block
Now that I work from home, my calendar is everything. Firs,t because there’s no one sitting next to me who will remind me it’s time to go to a meeting. Second because it makes me so much more productive to know exactly what I need to be doing and prioritizing.
I use my Gmail calendar for meetings and events that way the little alerts show up on my computer. It also gives me a larger view all at once as opposed to one page in my daily planner.
For my day to day organizing and time blocking, I use my physical day planner. Here is where I prioritize what needs to happen that day and at what times of the day I plan to get them done. My friend Jenna (founder of J.Lynn Designery) taught me to make a section for “need to do”, “love to do” and “money making.” I’ve been organizing my planner that way for at least 6 months and don’t plan on doing it any other way anytime soon.
One thing that I try to make sure that I do is take a real lunch break. Because you’re at home it’s going to be so tempting to just work at your desk, but trust me – lunch breaks exist for a reason.
A lunch break is beneficial because it allows you to step away from your computer (umm we all need a break from the computer screen, right?), it allows you to clear your mind for 30 minutes to an hour and can help you bring in a new perspective for the rest of the afternoon, and it will be re-energizing.
Don’t feel guilty about taking naps, running errands and working out in the middle of the day
One of my biggest tips when it comes to working from home is not to feel guilty about enjoying the best parts of working from home. When I first started working from home I felt like I needed to actually increase my hours because I wanted to prove that I wasn’t slacking off. All this did is make me more drained and tired.
I realized that the key to enjoying working from home is to integrate things you love to do in your day that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do at the office.
This includes taking naps, running errands and working out in the middle of the day.
Here’s why each of these is actually going to make you more productive in the long run.
Setting aside 1 hour in the middle of the work week to go grocery shopping or go to the post office is going to actually be more productive in the long run because 1. it’s probably going to take half the time because there will be no lines and 2. because you’ll have less stress by being able to actually enjoy the weekend with fun stuff rather than chores or errands.
Taking a nap
Taking a nap when working from home is nothing to be ashamed of, especially if one of the reasons you’re working from home is to be healthier and lessen anxiety. I’m not saying sleep all afternoon or sleep in all morning. Schedule an afternoon power nap and you’ll have the energy to power through the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Work out during off hours
I loooove getting to work out during off hours. If I know that a yoga class is going to be totally packed, I’m not going to go because it stresses me out to know I have to leave super early to find parking and a spot in class. By being able to go to those off hour classes like 9 am or 4 pm, I’m much more likely to go and the classes are smaller which means more 1:1 attention and less excuses not to go.
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