You may already enjoy working from home, or who knows, maybe you hate it more than your worst enemy. But either way – you’re probably reading this article because you’ve found yourself trying to navigate the bizarre new territory of a WFH lifestyle, and you’re looking for ways to make it better. Lucky for you, you’ve come to the right place!
Working from home can look incredibly different for everyone, and with every WFH-er comes a unique set of challenges and opportunities. Maybe you have children, or needy pets, or maybe you thrive on interaction with other people and staying in one place drives you crazy. I personally love working from home, but I can get a little stir-crazy, anxious, unmotivated, and sometimes, burnt out if I don’t listen to my body and pay attention to what I need. Over the years, I’ve pinned down 6 secrets to winning at the work from home lifestyle that are based on paying attention to what you need and setting yourself up for success.
Consider these 6 tips, and you’ll embrace the work-from-home lifestyle in no time!
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6 Secrets to Falling in Love with the Work From Home Lifestyle
1. Get Moving to Ease You In (Or Out) of the Day
When I commute to an office, I like working out in the mornings so that by the time I’m home at the end of the day, there’s no other ‘obligations’ looming over my head (like struggling to choose between an 8 pm run or diving face-first into the couch). But what I’ve realized is that, when I work from home, I actually like to use movement to help ease me OUT of my work day. Working out at dusk helps me to mentally ‘close out’ the responsibilities and stress that comes with a regular work day, and start refocusing my mindset towards the things I do in the evenings – cooking, relaxing, watching Netflix, and working on this blog.
Moving your body has the obvious benefits of keeping you healthy and getting your heart moving, but it is even more important when you work from home. Think about it – when your bed and your office are just 20 steps apart, how much walking are you even doing? A quick sweat sesh can get your heart moving, provide you with much-needed energy to power through your day, and boost your endorphins so you feel good about the work you’re producing along the way. You don’t need to do something you don’t enjoy. Go for a long walk, do a yoga class, read a book while on the treadmill – whatever it is, make it something you love and can look forward to so that you can ease in or out of your day intentionally.
2. Change Your Clothes
Let me start by saying I do not believe dressing up in full-on office attire, putting on makeup, or doing your hair is the end-all, be-all game changer to being productive at home (I say the same thing about making my bed, which 90% of the time remains gloriously rumpled and undone). I have done, and still do, some of my best work in sweats! But I do think there’s something to be said about changing into a new set of clothes after you wake up, even if that’s literally just a fresh pair of sweatpants. It’s not only hygienic, but it is a mental refresh that can subconsciously prepare you for kickstarting your day. I like to change into workout clothes as soon as I wake up, so that I have one less barrier between myself and my workout at the end of the day.
3. Arm Yourself with the Right Tools
It’s easy for any space to feel like an enemy if it isn’t equipped with the tools you need to succeed. That’s why it’s often so easy to yearn for a traditional office when in reality, you could probably set up most of the things you need in your very own house. If you have an employer, they may provide some basic software and tools to help you function remotely (and if there is something basic you need that you don’t currently have, like a mouse or a monitor, it might not hurt to ask for it). If you’re self-employed, know that office supplies 100% qualify as tax-deductible expenses.
Arm yourself with the right tools and software to be as productive as possible, whatever that looks like for the line of work you’re in. And, don’t forget to set up some additional tools to help you stick to a WFH schedule like a pro. I live by my Google Calendar and Google Keep Notes, rely on Trello to keep track of tasks, and religiously check Hello Bonsai for invoicing and payments. Slack, Zoom, and Google Hangouts also help me feel connected to other people and coworkers throughout the day.
4. Create an Office Space that Gets You Energized
Whenever I am taking a meeting, whenever I’m working on a challenging task, I always find it easier to focus when I’m seated at a desk. It’s so crucial that the desk or office space you create for yourself at home is one you want to show up to work for. Pick a great desk, find the most comfortable chair ever, and brighten up your space with art, plants, wallpaper, books – whatever it will take to make you excited to spend long periods of time here.
And of course, if you do like to jump from desk, to couch, to bed with your laptop, make sure to invest in a good laptop lap desk too so you can WF-Wherever as needed.
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5. Indulge in your Lunch Hour or Happy Hour
Just because you’re WFH doesn’t mean you can’t have a lunch hour (or happy hour) that you can look forward to. Sure, not every day will lend itself to taking a proper break, but when you can, take the time to walk away from your computer, eat a nice lunch or enjoy a glass of wine, and do something non-work-related. When you’re home, it’s so easy to just sit at your desk for hours and hours until the next thing you know, it’s 8 pm. But doing this can lead to burnout and pent-up anxiety towards working from home that can be toxic. Don’t let this happen to you!
6. Set Boundaries For Your Sanity
About the 8 pm thing… it’s also important to mention that sticking to a 9-to-5 schedule when you’re home is often unrealistic. That is OKAY! When we’re home, work isn’t always linear. We might take breaks throughout the day to check the mail, do laundry, or cook lunch. We might sleep in one morning or get a sudden burst of productive energy at dusk. Know that it’s okay to switch things up as long as you set boundaries for your sanity. Silence your notifications after a specific time each night, vow not to check your emails as soon as you wake up, and try to step away to take a mental break whenever your body needs one. The biggest mistake you can make when WFH is making yourself available 24/7. It’s not practical and it can make it harder to fully unwind and disconnect when you actually try to.
WFH is about flexibility, but it’s also about setting boundaries for your mental health and long-term success – be kind to yourself! Try out these tips, tweak as needed to find what works best for you, and stick to these structures as much as possible so you can thrive while working from home.
What issues concerns do you have with working from home? What have you found that works, or doesn’t work, for you? Share your tips or experiences below!