I have been working from home for over a year now, and in that time there has been plenty of opportunities for trial and error. These are the main tips I have found that make working from home fun and sustainable.
Make sure you’re sticking to your morning routine
When you’re working from home its really important to create a morning routine as you would if you worked in a traditional office. For example, you could go to the gym, come home and have a coffee and breakfast, read a book and get changed (working in your PJ’s is hard). A lot of productivity people suggest that you wear your traditional work clothes as you would an office, but in my opinion that seems like overkill. As long as I’m dressed comfortably and appropriately I can do my job and be comfortable. I like to check my diary, write my to-do list and prioritise it to start your day, I like to highlight my ‘big three’ and tackle them first. This routine can help you create structure and also direction and focus.
Set your work hours
Off the back of tip one, to create structure, direction and focus, it’s important to set clear work hours. These could be the same as your normal work hours, or sure to family commitments or standards in the industry, it could be different.
If this is the case, it might be good to identify when you’re the most productive. For some people its the mornings, and for others it’s the afternoons. If you’re a morning person, you might prefer to start earlier than you would in a traditional office and then you can leave earlier. For me, I try and work from 10 to six, which gives me time for a workout and have a nice morning. But everyone has a time that works for you. This is the most important thing for me, because for a long time, I would be in ‘work brain’ all the time, and it left me feeling burnt out and tired. Having healthy boundaries for yourself is really important.
Create a dedicated space
Have a dedicated space to work from, it doesn’t have to be a full on home office or a little corner or space on your dining table that you can pack down easily when you’re not working. There are no rules (maybe not from your bed) but it is good to have a dedicated space you can go everyday will help with your routine too. I have a little nook in my apartment that works really well but I also work from the living space sometimes too.
Utilise a to do list and prioritise it
My favourite way to organise my life, especially now that I’m working from home, is to create and utilise a daily to do list. I like to brain dump and then prioritise my workload in a methodical way. This allows me to put everything in perspective, which helps me to reduce my stress level and give me a structured way to get through my workload.
There are plenty of ways you can prioritise your to do list. It could be colder coordinating or symbols (I like a mix of both). I think its important to identify your most important tasks, and focus on these first while I’m fresh, the ‘big three’ are usually the things I tackle first.
Work in time blocks and schedule breaks.
I’m bad at this.
But working in blocks is a really effective way of working. One of the positives is that it does give you the flexibility to be able to do more of what you list rather than just being at the office 9- 5:30pm straight. If you want to stop for a long lunch, or a midday walk or a coffee break you have the flexibility to do that. Just make sure you have divided your time into time blocks to ensure that you get everything done. Utilising time blocks is also really helpful for scheduling proper breaks: For examples:
6:30-7:30: Get up, meditate and do a little tidy
8-10: Go to the gym, pick up a coffee, shower and get ready for work.
9-12: Prioritise top three from to-do lists
12:30-1:30: Lunch break with a friend
1:30-3pm: Tick off other things
3-3:30 Coffee or general break, sit outside on the balcony for some fresh air
3:30-6- Tick off other things
(you could even set alarms to help you)
Set rules with the people in your space
If you live with others or if there is multiple people working from the same space at home, make sure you set some ground rules so that you all have to be as productive as possible. I live with my partner, and he has generously decided to use headphones when he plays xbox, and I try not to have loud meetings when he wants to be chilling.
Stay on top of your personal home life too
When you’re working from home it’s important to try and keep on top of your personal life too.
- plan your meals for the week and whose turn it is to cook every night *
- schedule what day/time you’re going shopping
- Plan out what days you’re going to work out
- try to do your cleaning out of work hours or do a vacuum when you’re feeling like you’re in an unproductive mood, it’s a little win that can be really refreshing.
- You could plan your outfits for the week for something fun to do
get fresh air when you need it and stay hydrated
firstly, it’s simply, stay hydrated! Get in a routine of having a bottle of water next to your desk at home and staying on top of your water intake.
Secondly, every single day I try to get outside and get fresh air. Usually in the morning I will go to the gym or go for a walk. Getting out and able is a great way of resetting. I also will sometimes work out of a coffee shop as a change of pace.
Also, if I have had a particular stressful day or if I start to feel unproductive I make myself stop and go for a walk around the block or sometimes simply sit out on the balcony for 20 minutes so to take a break and refocus.
at the end of the working day, create a wind down routine. I suggest finishing up any outstanding emails, tidying your space (or putting it way if you’re in a common area) checking your diary and writing your to do list for the following day. Switch everything off and walk away. It’s important to wind down and then transition back into your personal home life.
As clique as it it, it’s important to stay positive. Working from home can have so many benefits and like anything else new and unknown, give yourself a bit of time to get into a routine and get used to it. Remember the positives, you are commuting less so you have more time in the mornings and evenings to exercise, journal, spend time with loved ones, cook, up skill and relax. And you have control to create your own space and routine!