Working from home definitely has its perks. No long commutes, you don’t have to pack your lunch, and you can skip workplace chatter. But working from home can be challenging. It takes effort and time to set up a routine – especially one that sets you up for success and productivity!
After working from home on and off for the past 4+ years, below are my top 15 habits that I’ve integrated into my routine, which help me check off my to-dos throughout the day.
- Create a Healthy and Dedicated workspace
- Create an at-home wardrobe
- Establish and Stick to a Schedule
- Create To-Do Lists and Tasks for Each Day
- Plan Out and Take Breaks
- Ignore Household Chores
- Stay Connected and Communicate with Technology
- Block Out Distractions and Social Media
- Hold Yourself Accountable
- Set Healthy Working Hours
- Take Time Off to Avoid Burn Out
- Exercise and Take Care of Your Body
- Stay Hydrated
- Turn Off Notifications at Night
- Reward Yourself for Goals You Achieve
Tip 1: Create a Healthy and Dedicated Workspace
Establish a workspace in your home where you work every day. If you don’t have a dedicated room, look for an area of your home that isn’t used. For example, can you convert a closet or a corner into a small desk area? Make this space your own and decorate it with colors that are soothing and will help you focus.
Also, when your day is done, make sure to put away your computer and work-related items. This will help you relax and will be easier to transition from work to home life.
Tip 2: Create a Work from Home Wardrobe
When working from home, it’s easy to get into the habit of working in sweats every day (I’m guilty!). But instead of sweatpants, look for comfortable, yet professional attire that will help you focus and mentally separate your time at home from your time spent “at the office.” But I do recommend that you keep your fuzzy slippers close by! 🙂
Tip 3: Establish and Stick to a Schedule, But Make the Schedule Work for You
You may have started working from home to get away from the “9-5” job, but there is something to having a set routine and schedule each day.
Establish hours that work for your schedule and stick to them. This will help you to focus and get work done efficiently.
Also, I will say, that it’s OK if every day doesn’t look the same, and you might go through seasons when your schedule will completely change. Be flexible and be willing to re-work. For example over the past year, I’ve been working from home while watching my four-year-old. So to help me get work done, I woke up early to work before he woke up, worked during nap/quiet time, during designated TV time, and sometimes in the evening. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked. My established schedule allowed me to continue to grow my business and get a lot of work done.
Tip 4: Create To-Do Lists and Tasks for Each Day
I love to-do lists. There is something so satisfying about crossing off something on a list, but lists can also be daunting if you have too much on your list. So how do you create a list that will work? Create small, shortlists (5 things max) each day, starting with the most important task. From there, work on one task at a time and don’t switch to another until that task is completed. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish when you work through one task at a time.
Tip 5: Plan out Breaks
Small office chats and breaks are typically eliminated when you work from home. So plan them out instead. Set timers and when they ring, get up, stretch, take a walk around your space or grab another cup of coffee.
Also, take time for lunch. Set 30 minutes to an hour aside and walk away from the notifications.
Tip 6: Ignore Household Chores
Multitasking can take away from getting work done. So during work hours, avoid common household cleaning tasks. They can wait until you’re done with work.
With that being said, you can get things done during your breaks. Set a 15-minute timer and try to sort/clean as much as you can. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish when you’re up against a timer!
Tip 7: Stay Connected and Communicate with Technology
Working remotely can feel isolating. Make sure you take time to communicate with your co-workers or clients. Set up phone or video calls, send emails or find a chat program that works best for you.
Also, don’t forget the importance of face-to-face interaction. If you’re not able to meet in person, make sure to set up video calls!
Tip 8: Block Out Distractions and Social Media
Stop picking up your phone! It’s so easy to pick up your phone, start scrolling, and before you know it, 15 – 30 minutes have passed and you cannot remember what you were working on. Turn your phone on do not disturb and don’t look at it while you’re focusing on a project. If you find that this doesn’t help, you can also delete apps OR download app blockers.
I also like to turn off email. This one may sound controversial, but it’s not. Set times throughout the day when you check your emails. During those scheduled times, you can focus on replying and answering questions.
Tip 9: Hold Yourself Accountable
Set time limits for tasks. You can use your phone or tracking software. I’m currently using https://tracker.toptal.com/ to help me keep track of the time it takes me to work on projects, but there are several other options on the market.
Tip 10: Set Healthy Working Hours
Whether you’re working for an employer or your own business, it’s important to establish healthy boundaries and working hours. It’s easy for the two to begin to bleed together, but it’s important to create boundaries between the two.
Tip 11: Take time Off and Avoid Burn Out
Why do we feel guilty about taking time off? When did that happen? Make sure you take time off, turn off email and unplug. Even if you’re the boss and are building a business, make sure you’re giving yourself time to recharge.
Tip 12: Exercise and Take Care of Your Body
Moving your body is crucial, but it’s easy to forget to do when all you have to do is take 10-50 steps to get to your office. Set time aside to work out during the day. Even if it’s taking your next meeting outdoors while you’re on a walk – get your body moving. 🙂
Tip 13: Stay Hydrated
Keep a large water bottle next to your workstation to help remind you to drink water throughout the day.
Tip 14: Turn off You Notifications at Night
Have you ever checked your email late at night only to read one that gets your heart and mind racing about an upcoming project? That is the worst feeling and not a great way to unwind before you go to sleep. When you log off for the day, make sure that includes checking emails and notifications on your phone.
Tip 15: Reward Yourself for Goals You Achieve
Did you just finish a huge and stressful project? Find a way to reward yourself. The rewards don’t need to be extravagant! Maybe it’s logging off early (if you’re able to do that), or grabbing an extra cup of coffee to enjoy.
Whether you’re new to working from home or have been working from home for years – remember to give yourself some grace. Yes, the goal is to be productive, but it’s more important that you have balance and can separate the two worlds. Just like working at the office, you’ll have both productive days and frustrating days. Take it one day at a time and if needed, walk away and if you need it, take a quick nap to rest. (It can do wonders!)