With so many changes to how the world operates now and an ever-present need for health and safety, many people are now working from home. When I first left my office job and started working from home, I thought it would be awesome, fun and really easy! I had no idea that it’d bring a fresh set of challenges and I’d need to learn and adapt a lot to make it successful. It took me a while but I got into a great routine and learned a lot about what to do and what not to do! Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t have the luxury of time like I did and they’ve been thrust into new and stressful situations with little warning. So, today, we wanted to share with you our must-know tips for successfully working from home!
If there are any questions you’ve got or anything else we can help you with, be sure to leave a comment for us and we’ll do our best to help. You may also like to read:
1. Wake up early
Working from home is such a treat, it can be easy to slip into naughty habits without even realising it. I used to love to take advantage of my time being my own and would often sleep-in until 9am on workdays. I guess, at the time, it kind of felt like I was claiming my life back after working in an office environment. But when you wake up late, you end up at your desk late and it can be hard to get going. I’ve found I’ve had much more success with waking up earlier and getting my day started at around the same time each day. For me, waking up between 6am and 6:30am works best.
2. Make your bed
Quite some time ago, I read about the importance of making your bed each day. This is something they do in the armed forces, with Naval Admiral William McRaven sharing in a speech, “If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another,” he said. “By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.” I have to say, after testing it out, I’ve found this one simple task has a profound impact on my day.
3. Do a workout or take time to meditate
With everything that’s happening in the world right now, gyms have, understandably, been closed. Trust me when I tell you, finding the time to do a workout or meditate at home, especially first thing in the morning, will have a significant impact on how productive your day is working from home. Similar to making your bed, starting your day with a good workout at home sets the tone for the rest of your day. It will help you wake up, de-stress and, once you’re done, you’ll feel as though you’ve accomplished something already. It’ll set you up to tackle the rest of your day with energy and get everything done! I’ve been using the SWEAT app for at-home, no-equipment workouts since last year and love it but there are loads of others out there too!
4. Follow a morning grooming routine
It’s really important to stay on top of your usual morning grooming routine! Most of us have one for going into the office because we need to be presentable, looking and smelling fresh for customers and co-workers (and ourselves, of course!) But, when you work from home and nobody else can smell or even properly see you, it’s easy to let things slip. It starts with moisturiser and before you even know what’s happening, there’s cereal stuck in the back of your hair and you can’t remember the last time you showered. Establish a morning routine and stick to it, no matter what! Mine is to have a shower after my morning work-out then do my full skincare routine, brush my teeth and my hair, put on deodorant and a fresh outfit. It’s simple but it has a huge impact on my day. Read about my super easy and affordable skincare routine here.
5. In fact, follow a morning routine in general!
Trust me when I tell you that, after a few days or weeks, you’ll start to lose hold of your day. I don’t know what happens, it’s like you get too comfortable or something and you start finding distractions or excuses to work as you normally would. I found a great way to keep my day on track is to always follow the same morning routine. I wake up every day between 6am and 6:30am, except on Sunday’s when I sleep in. I get up, put my gym gear on right away then go downstairs where I do the same four things and only these four things: scoop the cat litter, put on some laundry (if needed), feed the cats and make a pot of coffee. Then I do my workout, come inside and eat my breakfast, have a shower, do my grooming routine and get my butt to my desk by 9am. Consistency is the key to success when it comes to working from home!
6. Get out of your pajamas!
There’s nothing quite as exciting as going from having to get all dressed up to go into the office, to simply being able to shuffle around in your pajamas all day. When I first started working from home, I would live in my pajamas. It was such a treat! But, it began to get a bit out of hand and I think it started to impact my mental health negatively. I still have days where I work in my pajamas (like today!) but, for the most part, I try to get into normal clothes. Find the middle ground by wearing things you may not normally be able to wear to your office but are still comfortable. For me, that’s usually a really baggy, billowy dress. For Matt, it’s usually boardshorts and activewear shirts.
7. Never have a ‘Netflix break’
Oh boy, I learned this one the hard way. When we’re at work, in an environment where our boss, co-workers, and customers keep us in check, we don’t have the luxury of looking at whatever we want on the internet or our phones. But when you’re at home, it’s all too easy to, ‘just watch one episode.’ We rationalise it to ourselves by saying, ‘I’m tired, I need a break! I take breaks at work, what’s the difference?’ The difference is Netflix. NEVER, EVER take a Netflix break. It’s almost impossible to switch your mind from Netflix tv watching mode back to regular work mode. It kills productivity! Look at stuff on the internet, read the news, watch a short YouTube video but whatever you do, don’t watch Netflix. But, when the time comes, here’s a little inspiration: ’10 movies I absolutely love and think you will too!’
8. Do NOT negotiate with yourself
This is a big one. As time goes on, your mind will start to come up with new and interesting reasons why you can’t work. It’ll also come up with innovative procrastination techniques! It’s important to remember, you don’t need to feel like doing something to do it. Read that again. You may not feel like getting that presentation done but that doesn’t mean you can’t get it done. Don’t ever negotiate with yourself. If your mind tries to say, ‘Oh, I’ll just sleep in this once,’ or, ‘It doesn’t matter if I don’t shower today,’ shut that down right away. Don’t listen to it. Stick to your routine and get your work done!
9. Set specific times for things
It’s all too easy for your workday to blow out when you don’t stick to a routine. Take the time to figure out your daily routine and it’ll help you get into a good rhythm faster. Remember, all of these tips are aimed at helping keep your stress levels down and get through your work-from-home phase successfully. Matt and I are in a good routine now but we struggled at the start, which often meant we’d show up at our desks by 11am but have to work well into the night, which impacted our sleep/rest patterns. Now, we like to be at our desks by 9am, break for a short, 30-minute lunch around 12pm-1pm, then get back to our desks until around 4pm-5pm.
10. Establish a workspace and make it your own
You cannot successfully work from a crappy workspace. You might be able to work but it won’t be the best it can be for you and your mental health. Trust me, I’ve had a few different home-office setups and have learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work over the years. The most successful workspace for me is to have a room of my own, so I can shut the door if needed. That may not be possible for everyone, so just try to find a space you can claim as your workspace and make it comfortable. You’ll definitely need a desk and chair which should be set up ergonomically (your back and shoulders will thank you) and have everything you need to do your job nearby. Make it feel like a workspace! It may start out as fun but working from the couch or your bed starts to physically hurt after a while and it doesn’t put you in a good headspace to do what you need! Read: This is how we actually set up our home offices (and the mistakes we made along the way).
11. Keep your house and your workspace clean and tidy
Personally, I find working while surrounded by mess to be challenging. It just kind of kills my productivity because I feel icky and I keep thinking about how I really need to clean the place. Keeping your desk/workspace and the rest of your house neat tidy is going to do wonders for your mental health. It’s also going to reduce distractions and give you the best possible environment to get your work done, so you can reduce stress levels and feel successful.
12. Go (safely) outside sometimes
In these troubling times, many of us are confined to our homes. Just remember, that doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to stand in the sunshine or breathe fresh air. Working from home can do funny things to your perception of time and, before you know it, you could’ve been indoors for very long stretches. So, make sure you take the time to stand in the sunshine, even if it’s just on your balcony, front porch or back garden. Let your body get some fresh air and sunshine, do some stretches, have your lunch in your garden and make time to reconnect with nature. It does wonders for your mental and physical health.
13. Establish clear boundaries
Mixing work and home life is dangerous in the sense that, at first, the boundaries are blurry. When I worked in an office environment, I knew when I walked out those doors each day, I was done. I never brought my work home with me. But, when you work from home, it’s different. Your work is always there with you and you’ll find yourself checking and replying to emails, taking calls at odd hours and altering your schedule. Slowly but surely, the work and home aspects combine and while it’s fine at first, eventually it’ll leave you feeling burnt out. To be successful at working from home, you want to establish clear boundaries right away. Know when your workday starts and ends. While there will always be things that pop up that require your attention from time to time, for the most part, you should still have a clearly defined workday that is separate from your home life.
14. Use your clothes to help with this!
I mentioned the importance of not wearing pajamas to work (all the time) above. It turns out, our clothes can actually help us establish boundaries between our home and work lives. Remember, the best thing about pajamas is that they’re relaxing, ‘home’ clothes so if you start wearing them to work, they’ll lose that feeling. Instead, use your clothes to break up your day. So, you know when you’re in a ‘work’ outfit that you’re on-the-clock but as soon as you switch back into your house clothes or jammies, it’s time to relax!
15. Eliminate distractions
Matt struggles a lot with distractions when working from home (don’t worry, he’ll happily admit this!) For him, he finds it helps a lot to eliminate distractions as much as possible. From my perspective, this means I need to be mindful that it takes him a while to get into ‘the zone’ and not interrupt him when he does. He finds it best not to have any of his favourite bookmarks in his work web browser or anywhere else he can see them. He’ll often put his phone on do not disturb and stay out of his emails while he’s focusing on an important piece of work for a client or us. Be honest about what distracts you and find ways to remove them from your work environment or simply just give them an appropriate time and place.
16. Set clear goals each day
If you really want to make the most out of your day, this is a good one! At the start of each new workday, take a few minutes to write down three things you want to achieve today, three things you’re grateful for and three things you’re looking forward to. Be specific and as detailed as possible i.e. writing ‘get my work done,’ ain’t gonna cut it, kid! Setting clear goals and intentions for your day will help you achieve them and you’ll feel even more amazing when you do! It gives your day a sense of purpose. Adding in what you’re looking forward to and grateful for is a grounding tool that adds meaning, excitement, and joy to your day too. Read: The #1 super easy trick I use to accomplish my dreams
Watch our YouTube video sharing how the current situation has impacted our small business and what we plan to do about it:
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