How I Changed Everything So I Actually Work When I Work From Home

Posted in: I'm Moving, Organization

Forget extra vacation days or free coffee at the office; The hottest new work benefit is the option to work remotely. Tons of people who move for a job still find themselves outside of the office. Yep, about 3.9 million U.S. employees are working from home at least half the time, according to reports.

And I’m one of them!

Don’t I look professional? Well, it wasn’t always that way. I recently left my corporate job to work on my small business, and let me just say, it has been quite the adjustment working from home.

I woke up on my first day of work and felt guilty when I wasn’t rushing around to get ready and run out the door to make the train. The first few weeks were a struggle with my new routine, and I found myself working 12 hour days, in my pajamas, with my laptop constantly in front of me. I was quickly on the road to burnout.

Whether you’re underworking, overworking or both, luckily I’ve figured out a smarter (and healthier) way to work from home. I did lots of research and implemented a few strategies into my routine, and I’m happy to report that I am now thriving with my new setup.

I still get dressed for the workday.

Remember the tale of me in my pajamas working like a maniac those first few weeks of my new routine? Yeah, that wasn’t the best look for me. My husband would return home from work at night, only to find me in the same pajamas I was in when he left 9 hours before. Yikes.

Now, I get up and dressed every morning. I don’t have to put on business casual clothing, just a fresh outfit for the day ahead. This makes me feel better about myself, keeps my hygiene on point, and makes me feel like a total #girlboss.

I don’t work on the couch anymore because I designed my own work area.

I’m guilty of working from bed or on the couch hunched over my laptop. This hasn’t been great on my back (or my productivity). So after reading some more about the problem, I decided to create a designated “office space” in our home, force myself to sit in a real chair, and get real work done.

Even though our small condo doesn’t have a separate room for an office, I just added a slim desk to a blank wall in our bedroom. This makeshift office has been crucial for me. When I sit down at my desk, I know it’s time to get to work and avoid the distractions from the rest of my home.

But if you have an extra room in your house that you can convert to an office, don’t think twice and just do it. That way, you can simply close the door at the end of the day and work mode will be over. If not, find a way to create a work zone in your home, so work isn’t creeping into rooms all over your house.

I go outside before I start to work (even if it’s freezing).

Sometimes there isn’t a reason for me to leave the house at any point during these Chicago winters … I’m totally fine with that! However, I’ve found that morning walks help set me up for success for the day. Just a 20-minute stroll around the block gives me some much-needed vitamin D and fresh air. When I return, I’m ready to sit down and get to work.

I’ve also added a weekly trip to the coffee shop into my routine, and it’s nice to head out for 20 minutes to get a cup of coffee in the neighborhood. Fresh air and fresh java? Yes, please!

I bought a big whiteboard so my daily goals are visualized and in front of me.

I’m a big list maker and absolutely love the satisfaction of crossing items off of a long to-do list. I recently added a large whiteboard to our home, and it has helped me tremendously. I split the board into six sections, one for each weekday and a column for the weekend. Now I look at my week as a whole and plan things out accordingly. I slot in appointments, meetings, conference calls, important tasks and even workouts onto my large whiteboard.

I make time to meet with friends during lunch so I’m not isolated.

Working from home has many perks, but it can also be incredibly isolating. You may be by yourself all day long, and it can get lonely. I’ve found that setting up weekly lunches has made a big difference in my overall morale. I set up lunch with a different friend one day per week, and it has kept me more social … plus, it breaks up the week! If I can’t find a friend who is free that week, I spend one afternoon a week working at a coffee shop. Working amongst other people can be rejuvenating and inspiring.

I write to my coworkers (very) often.

If you’re working remotely for a company, it’s important to communicate all the time. You’re not getting that same face-to-face interaction that your coworkers at the office are getting, so be sure to check-in frequently. Make yourself available via Slack or Google Chat, and make sure you’re responsive when it comes to calling and emails.

This also will show your coworkers and managers that you’re still reliable, even when you’re working from home.

Yeah, I’m really trying to avoid household distractions.

I’m still working on this strategy, but I think it’s so important to set boundaries. When you’re home all day long, it can be easy to get distracted by things that need to be done around the house. Laundry, cleaning, cooking … they can all take you away from getting your work done.

I found that I was constantly multi-tasking while working. This seemed okay at first, but I found that I wasn’t as efficient as I used to be. Now, I take those aforementioned breaks throughout the day to run an errand or do a chore around the house, but the other times I’m 100% devoted to work thanks to my routine.

Do I have the whole work from home routine perfected? I’ve definitely made huge strides after putting that research into pracitce, and I’ve gotta say, I’m loving it so far!

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