It’s been almost two years since I started the blog. Two year of working from my laptop in coffee shops, my corner in an office and on occasionally my bed. And for the most part, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love working from home. It’s allowed me to be flexible with my life and my family. But developing the habits that making working from home successful took time. As much as I would love to say I mastered it right off, I’d be lying. So whether you’re new to working for home or just looking to be more productive with your limited time, here are the tips that I’ve found make me the most successful.
I think everyone’s version of this looks a little bit different. And if you don’t work from home daily, your home office day might be happily spent in pajamas. However, for the rest of us at home kids, it’s important to have office attire. I’m not saying you have to wear stiff trousers and button up shirt. Most days, my office look is workout clothes, no make-up and my ugg slippers. You have to decide on what you feel productive and comfortable in. But creating the morning routine of getting dressed can help you get into your working mindset.
Define Your Space
I spoke about this a few months back in my getting in my girl boss mojo back post. But one thing I’ve found I need as a person in my life is defined spaces. Whether it’s working out or writing, I do best when I create space that is dedicated to my work. This means separating my office space from my sleeping space. It also means that when I sit at my desk it’s because I’m going to work. If you’re struggling to feel productive when it feels like you’re living in your job, create a space where you just work. This might mean a table or a chair but define that space for yourself as a work zone and stick to it. Half the battle of working from home is the mental game. Creating a place where you can get your head in the game is a great way to start.
Create Electronic Free Zones
Over the past month or so, I’ve been working to create more defined spaces in my house. Yes, I have an office space where I work. But it’s so easy to cart my laptop around the house and always feel like I need to be doing something. Work life balance is still high on my list of priorities for the year. And this means being able to disconnect regularly so when I am connected I can give it my all. For me, I’ve opted for a no laptop in bed rule. This means no netflix at night or mindless internet searching. If I’m desperate enough, I will watch something on my phone. But giving myself the space to not feel like I’m on it or working all the time brings peace. It allows for me to feel balanced in my work/home life. And it helps me to be the most productive when I’m in the spaces I’ve designated for work.
Consider Investing In Headphones
Towards the end of last year, I invested in some pricier items that were on my wishlist. Specifically, I bought an apple watch* and a pair of noise cancelling headphones*. And I would buy both again in a heartbeat today. I know that I do best when I can zone into my work and being able to cancel out the sounds helps. As I write today’s post, I’m listening to a rain playlist on spotify while the chaos of tv, my dog and a full family at home is around me. If you don’t have the space to be able to really get away from the sound, investing in noise cancelling headphones can help create it even in the chaos.
Create a Schedule
When you work for yourself, it’s not often that someone else can do the work for you. You are the reason the things don’t get done. So when you operate without a schedule, it’s easy to wait until the last minute to do everything or feel like nothing ever gets done. Creating a schedule and sticking to it also helps with that work life balance we all strive for. Maybe that means batch shooting photos for the month one day. Or dedicating a certain day to testing recipes in the kitchen. Personally, I’m a massive fan of using my bullet journal to schedule things out from my content calendar to my daily todo list. When you block out chunks of time, it’s easier to focus rather than feeling like you’re constantly playing whack-a-mole.
Don’t Work Where You Relax
Your subconscious is a powerful thing. Sounds. Spaces. They all tell you what kind of emotional energy you should be prepped for. And when you go from doing work outside of the house to doing all your work at home, you don’t quite get that same check it all at the door feeling. So to keep your sanity, don’t work in the same spaces you want to unwind in the evening. You could sit on a different chair. Move your table to a new corner so it feels like you’re going to work. Whatever you need to do but make sure you’re giving yourself that mental space. Otherwise, you’re going to find being stuck indoors even more challenging.
Use Scents & Sounds To Cue Your Brain
If you still feel like you’re going a little crazy trying to mentally separate you’re work from home and regular time, try using smells or sounds to help give your brain the mental barrier. I mentioned this recently in 8 Tips Get To Get Better sleep but sounds are amazing at helping your subconsciously get into a certain mode. I use them to pep me up for a workout (get my running playlists here) or at night to tell myself that it’s time to wind down.
For working, I’d suggest picking a playlist that you ONLY listen to while you’re working. Start it at the beginning of the day. Turn it off as soon as you’re done. Let it be your background noise. And then pick one song you play every night that is your work day is over anthem!
It might take a few days to really get into the swing of it. If you really want to jazz it up or hate music, you could also try this with essential oils or candles. But the idea is to give your brain that subconscious cue that it’s time to work and unwind. I promise. It makes all the difference.
Don’t Do Everything At Home
*obviously not during Covid-19 but for when life returns to normal*
And my last bit of working from home advice is to leave the house. Yes, I know this doesn’t seem very productive but hear me out. It’s easy to get caught in a bubble working from home. You’ve traded cubicle mates for easy Netflix access (side note: if you’re looking for what to watch next, be sure to check out my 100 movies & shows on Netflix & Amazon right now post). Instead of going out to lunch all the time, you’ve now got 10 steps to the fridge. All the relaxing things you dreamed about doing before you now have easily accessible. Make it a point to get out of the house. This might mean meeting a friend for lunch at a park or seeing a movie in the middle of the day. Don’t let yourself exist inside a house bubble.
If you’re new to working at home, give yourself some grace. It can take time to establish new boundaries and find a way to balance work & life when it’s all so close together. With a little practice and patience, you’ll find the best working from home routine that works for you!
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