As many of you know, I work from home. Even before COVID-19 and mandatory WFH policies, I have had the opportunity to work from home with my position. Originally I assumed my job would be more traditional and done in an office setting, but most of my team is remote and I learned that I am more productive and can spend more time working when I cut out getting ready, driving downtown, reserving a desk and being in a traditional office setting.
At first it was a hard transition. My first few weeks I went into the office every day because traditionally before starting my first "big girl job" I had internships which were strictly 9-5 at a cubicle, so I didn't really know how to be productive or get work done at home with little social interaction and no dedicated work space. Now that I fully work from home, I think it would be a hard transition back to the office life-so when this COVID-19 thing is over I'm super interested to see what people think about working from home and if it as cool as people think.
I know most of my friends were so jealous I could work from home, but now that they are actually doing it they realize it takes alot of stamina to be productive, can often be lonely and is hard to adjust.
Since I went through this transition a few months ago I can honestly say I have learned to be my most productive self at home. While this may not be true for everyone I want to share some things I've learned about working from home that I think are important for everyone to know. With this- I also wanted to include some tips to staying productive while working remote.
1.) IT TAKES TIME TO MAKE A ROUTINE
I'm sure you've heard this alot-That sticking to a routine while working from home will make you productive. And yes, it is true. But don't think that means you still have to wake up an hour before you need to login and use the time you traditionally would spend getting dressed and commuting on something else.
SLEEP. Use that extra time as rest for your body. When I used to go into the office I would wake up at 6:45 to leave by 7:30 and be online at the office by 8a.m. Now I wake up at 7:30 to be online by 8a.m. I am the queen of sleep and truly can't perform at my best if I am not getting my beauty rest. That is why I choose to sleep in a bit and spread my schedule throughout the morning. But just because I sleep in doesn't mean I still don't have a routine. I normally wake up at 7:30 and brush my teeth, make my bed and open all my blinds and turn on the lights. (light is so important!! especially natural light!!) By this time it is about 8 and I login to check my email and respond to any "easy" emails. By 8:15 I go and change into my clothes for the day (I'll go more into this later) and try to drink a big glass of water by 8:30. This is normally when my calls start so after my first call I decide on breakfast and eat from 9-10. Boom. A. morning routine that is nowhere near what it was like when I worked from an office.
Tip: Instead of trying to duplicate your normal routine, make one that suits your WFH style! Incorporate it into the time you spend working and spread it out so it makes sense to you. (Not everything needs to happen before you login)
2.) IT'S OKAY TO TAKE BREAKS
THIS!! One of the hardest things I had to learn and I still struggle with it. When you are in the office you don't feel guilty for grabbing Starbucks, taking a lap around the office or chit chatting with your cubicle neighbor. But as soon as you're at home and everyone knows you are at home- you feel trapped to your computer. IT'S OKAY TO TAKE BREAKS. It's okay to take 15 minutes to make scrambled eggs and toast- it will probably take less time than your traditional run to Starbucks. If you need a break during the day and normally leave for lunch, use this time to go for a run or just scroll through social media. I used to get so worried that since my boss knows I am at home, if I am offline for more than 2 minutes she will think I am not working and just napping at home. I guarantee no one cares that much about your skype status and if they do- they clearly aren't working too hard.
Tip: Block off times for breakfast/lunch/snack time if that is something you traditionally took in the office. There is no need to constantly be online. Give yourself a break (literally!!)
3. YOUR PHONE BECOMES WAY MORE FUN
For someone who works full time and also blogs and is heavily involved in social media it can be easy to work on that with your laptop open. As hard as it is you HAVE to put it away. You wouldn't be scrolling through Instagram if you knew your boss was in the office over from you so treat your home office the same way. For me "out of sight out of mind" is the only way I can do this. Sometimes I don't even wear my apple watch cause I find it's distracting. It'll be way easier to mindlessly lose track of time on your phone but STAY FOCUSED.
Tip: Keep your phone and apple watch in a completely different room that would require you to physically get up to grab it.
4. It Gets Easier to Snack
If you wouldn't bring a bag of candy and chips to work- DON'T keep them in the pantry at home. Normally I would bring healthy food for lunch at work and granola bars but then keep all my chips, candy, etc. at home because that would be my after work treat. When you merge work and home it is important to only buy what you want to eat. It'll be easy to grab the unhealthy stuff, BUT you have a unique opportunity to put in the work to have a healthy snack / meal while wfh. Again out of sight and out of mind. Only buy healthy things and then you only have healthy options. PLUS you don't even have to prep your healthy snack, take a 5 minute break and chop your veggies or whip up a quick fruit salad that you normally wouldn't have spent the time to prep before working at the office.
Tip: Only buy what you want to eat- if you only get healthy food you can only eat healthy food!!
5. You will have (more) energy after work
This is one of the biggest perks (in my opinion) about wfh. I used to be so drained after my commute and long hours under bright white lights. By eliminating the need to drive back and forth from the office and then come home take off my makeup and change into my workout clothes I find it's a lot lot easier to go right from my computer to work out. I also have been cooped up all day so it is easier to socialize after work. While this pandemic doesn't allow us to use that energy after work as we'd like- you can channel that energy into cleaning, an. in-home workout or a long facetime with an old friend. You have the extra energy-now use it!
Tip: After a chill day at home- burn off energy after work and be productive after hours!
6. You're going to be saving that $$$
When I first moved to Dallas I about died calculating how much I would be spending in downtown parking alone. $6-$9 a day doesn't seem like that much until you calculate how much that means in terms of a month/year. PLUS the savings on gas too/value of your car. Just think about how much money you save from working from home.
Tip: When you get down about missing the office life- just think about how much your wallet will grow during this time :)
7."Look Good Feel Good" is still in full effect
I am not advocating for business casual in your home but I do think it makes a HUGE difference to change out of the clothes you sleep in. For me it is changing into leggings and a workout top. This way after work I can close my laptop I am already ready to go for my workout and alleviates any excuses. There is also just something about fresh clothes and putting a bra on (lol sorry tmi) that makes you feel more productive.
Tip: Change out of your pjs-even if it is into another set of comfy clothes!
8. YOU MAY STILL WANT TO MEAL PREP
I think this one depends on your job. Because I work remote full time I don't really take lunch breaks. Annnnd then because of this I also rarely give myself time to fully prepare a meal like I would like at home. So I often make a good dinner and save the leftovers for lunch because all that requires is reheating. Just keep in mind that normally if you pack your lunch at work, you should be prepared to keep those shorter lunch breaks. If you are someone who normally has team lunches and goes out, then use this time to make something yummy or run and get a to go order! Totally up to you and your work schedule. For me and my hectic schedule, I find it is easier to have something I can easily whip up in the middle of the day.
Tip: Make 2 portions for dinner the night before and then eat leftovers for lunch the next day to save time!
9. The couch is rarely a good idea
This is another one that I have heard alot lately and for me it is half and half. I like having a designated work space with my notebook and laptop for calls and any work that involves writing/math (emails, powerpoint decks, etc.) however, if I have "mindless" work like designing or editing graphics then I sometimes will head to my couch. But that is just my personal way of relaxing and letting my creativity flow. Even in college I liked doing my creative work on the couch. But this differs by person- I have coworkers who never leave their bed and do huge excel sheets but that just won't work for me.
Tip: Stay away from the couch until you have a routine and have become productive at home. Then from there see what "mindless" activities you can still do from your couch!
10. You WILL get the hang of it
I know right now all of this seems weird and uncomfortable and you are still learning how to be productive in a space that used to be a "work free" environment. But I am here to tell you- you WILL get the hang of it. I know it sounds crazy but after working at home I find myself so much more productive at home vs the office. When I went into the office I took extra long breaks to take a lap around the office, chit chatted with coworkers and would often stress about chores I had at home. Now I avoid those distractions and can throw in a load of laundry between calls-so in my book that's winning! Just give it time, take these tips to heart and it'll come. Everyone is different and we all have different styles of working so just figure out how to put your style of work into your work-from-home life and you will be good to go!!
Tip: Listen to my tips and remember that it'll take time to get the hang of it!
Hope y'all found these helpful!! :) They have helped me so much in balancing my work from home life and can't wait to hear what you guys think! Happy working-let's do this!