We are finding our lives and working situations changing drastically over the past few weeks. Many of us are working from home for the first time and are adjusting to this new reality without much of a transition period at all. On top of the work changes, we are showing up through fear on a daily basis and are doing hard things. We can pat ourselves on the back for the courage, resiliency, and grace we are displaying and honing more than ever these days.
There’s a lot of change happening at once and it can feel downright overwhelming. To feel a bit more settled and grounded during these uncertain times, creating some structure and routine can be helpful.
Before Covid-19 was even a thing, I was working from home for about 2.5 years or so. So I’d say I’m a seasoned “work from homer” (totally just made that word up). I will say it does require some more discipline, organization, and will-power on your end, but these are all skills you can hone and strengthen, just like anything else.
Before I share with you my tips for working from home, I’d like to gently remind you to go easy on yourself during this time. Yes, these are ideas that have worked well for me. No, I do not do them perfectly and even though I’ve been doing this longer than a lot of you, I still struggle with it.
Especially, during these wild times.
So think of this as an experiment and give yourself permission to tweak and pivot as you figure out what works well and what doesn’t work so well. I’m constantly pivoting these days, and there’s no shame in that. So let’s all pivot together, like the cha-cha or something (I think I’ve been locked up for too long).
Also, I do not have children so I can’t speak on that, but I’m sure there are some helpful suggestions and resources out there for parents working from home with their children. I hope you still get some useful tips and ideas from this as well.
Here are my 10 tips for working from home:
- Create a morning routine. I’m a big believer of morning routines as it is, and even more so these days. Hopefully now that you’re not commuting, you’ll have some extra time to get in some gentle stretching, go for a walk, create a gratitude list, or make a healthy and nourishing brekkie. I shower in the mornings and may not always put on “real” clothes as I’ve been living in cozy sweaters and leggings lately, but nevertheless, it feels good to shower, brush my hair, and put on some clean clothes. Create a routine that works for you. Again feel free to pivot as you go. There have certainly been some mornings where my morning routine consisted of lying in bed for the morning as I needed the extra rest at that time. Only you know what you really need, so checking in daily is a supportive habit to get into.
- Ending work. Since you are working from home now it can be easy to just keep on working and not have a set schedule. Pick a time that you’ll end your work day and be sure to stick with it. Once your work day is finished, plan something fun so you have something to look forward to. Maybe you’re going to experiment with a new recipe for dinner, do some baking, paint, write, or have a phone call with a good friend. It’s important that you do something to signal your work day is over, so you won’t be tempted to open that computer back up.
- Focus on one thing at a time. I freakin’ love apps where they help me focus. Believe me, I desperately need it. We all know multitasking isn’t really a thing anyway, so try to focus on one thing at a time and get rid of the distractions. With the Pomodoro technique and Flora app you typically do 25 minutes of focused work, take a 5 minute break and then repeat for 3 rounds. It blows my mind how much work I can get done during this 90 minutes. Depending on your work, maybe turn your phone on airplane mode or put it in a drawer so you aren’t distracted by it continuously. This helps me stay even more focused during those 25 minute intervals.
- Create a daily rhythm. It’s so easy to bounce from one thing to the next aimlessly without having a daily schedule. Again, routine can be extremely helpful right now so we don’t have to use any of our brain power to decide what to do because you already have a schedule or a daily rhythm as I prefer to call it. Some people find they aren’t eating enough because they haven’t planned their meal breaks and then the majority of us fall into the camp of eating too much. I mean that chocolate bark in the kitchen is calling my name as I’m writing this right now. So having a daily schedule is really helpful. I would include the time you wake up, workouts, breakfast, work meetings, projects, calls, snack breaks, exercise breaks, and everything else in between. Of course, you can be flexible with this and again do the pivot (especially if you have children!). But if you’re anything like me, having structure and consistency is really comforting to me these days.
- Move your body. On top of getting in that workout in the morning, I’ve been trying to find ways to move my body since we aren’t allowed outside here in Spain (only for groceries). So I’ve been getting in some stretching throughout the day, maybe putting on a song and dancing, running up and down the apartment stairs, and ending my day with some relaxing yoga. If you’re allowed, go for a walk around the block and get some fresh air. Set a reminder for every hour to get up and stretch or put on your favorite dance song just to move your body. It doesn’t matter what you do, but just move.
- Have a designated work area. It sounds so fun to work from your couch or bed, doesn’t it? I know. I do it sometimes. But I’m going to be honest with you, I work so much better from my desk than I ever do from my bed. Choose a designated area in your home to work from. It can be a desk or from a spot at your dining table. I love having this area clean, tidy and clutter-free so I can concentrate and focus better. Making your work area pretty and inspiring is helpful too. Add a plant or some flowers, diffuse some essential oils, or put up your picture or favorite quote.
- Plan your tasks ahead of time. This one really depends on the type of work you do, but if you have some autonomy over your work, then planning your projects or tasks the night before can be helpful. I just use a basic notebook and write down my tasks sometimes on Sunday or the night before so I know what I’ll be focusing on that next day. Again, save some of those decision making skills and make things easier for yourself. Keep things realistic and set yourself up for success too.
- Meal planning and mindful eating. Since I can’t pop out and grab lunch at my favorite neighborhood cafe when I get low on groceries, something I’m finding really helpful these days, is to be sure I have my meals planned out for the next few days. I usually make enough of a dish that lasts for at least a few meals and that way I don’t have to scramble to make something when that lunchtime hunger kicks in. I also highly recommend eating and enjoying your meals away from your designated work area. This is a great opportunity to practice mindful eating (which is pretty much just being aware of what you’re eating, how it tastes, and how you feel) and stepping away from work for a bit, so you can return to your designated working area feeling focused and ready to go.
- Build in self-care. We need to take care of ourselves and build in some nourishing activities more than ever these days. One thing I always do with clients is have them create a list of nourishing activities that support their well-being. On your list could be painting, writing, baking, dancing, connecting with loved ones, DIY face and hair masks, playing the guitar, etc. Put anything on that list that fills you up and nourishes your spirit. How can you carve out space and build these into your life, especially during these unsettling and stressful times? It’s so important to take care of our mental health and limit news intake as well.
- Create makeshift desks. Okay, you don’t actually have to get out some wood, hammer and nails and start hammering away, but it’s important not to be sitting in your work chair all day long as it’s not good for your hips, hamstrings, and back. I spend a few hours each day working from the floor where I sit on a yoga mat and yoga block and use my chair as the desk. It’s not perfect, but it works! You could also try to create a stand up desk using some things around the house. I’m sure the internet has loads of ideas, but the main thing is you switch it up and get a nice balance of sitting on a chair, standing, and sitting on the floor while working.
Alrighty, guys. I hope you at least have one idea you can implement from this blog to incorporate into your work day. I’d love to hear from you too! What are some ideas you have for working from home?
Take care of yourself and stay healthy,