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I think we can agree things have been CRAZY these last few weeks (or months if you have anything to do with China like me). Over the weekend I spent some time chatting with a few friends who are trying to work from home for the very first time and it hasn’t been easy for them.
Working from home can be a HUGE adjustment, especially if you don’t have a dedicated workspace, or you have other people at home who aren’t working.
Well, I’ve been working from home for over two and a half years now and to be honest, it took me quite a while to figure out how to really make it work for me. But thankfully after a few years, I’ve finally figured things out and I can’t wait to share them with all of you to make this time a bit easier!
1. Stick to a Normal-ish Work and Sleep Schedule
I know that it can be super tempting to get into a weird routine where you stay up late and sleep in until noon every day. This is ESPECIALLY true if you’re a night owl, and your job doesn’t require you to work specific hours. I know I can fall prey to weeknight social events (at least before we went on lockdown) or staying up until 3 am playing Stardew Valley, but it’s so bad for your schedule!
On the days I sleep in, I just feel so unproductive. By the time I wake up, make some coffee, potentially do a quick workout and… oh, what do you know, it’s already noon and now there’s no point in breakfast because it’s already almost lunch.
Now I’m not saying you need to wake up at 6 am like you might when you commute to an office, but keeping to a normal-ish schedule will really help you feel productive. I try to wake up at 9-something so I can do my workout and start work before 11 am. I know that sounds late to most of you, but it works great for me!
2. Wear Real Clothes While You Work From Home
There are so many jokes about working from home in your pajamas or sweatpants and it feels like the dream. But you know what? It’s HORRIBLE for your productivity! Sure, enjoy it for a few days but eventually, you’re going to feel really gross wearing your pajamas all day.
If you want to be comfortable while you work from home, my biggest piece of advice is to wear leggings or comfortable pants with a nice top. For example, today I’m wearing comfy grey leggings with a loose white shirt and a wrap cardigan from my travel capsule wardrobe. Sure, it’s casual and cozy, but it’s also the type of outfit I could easily wear out and about too!
In warmer weather, I was a huge fan of comfortable dresses. Easy to throw on, comfortable for sitting all day, and cute enough to feel like you’re wearing a real outfit and not pajamas. Score!
3. Exercise and Move Your Body
When you’re at home all day long, it can be all too easy to turn into a couch potato. The more you exercise, the more your body craves it, and the same is true for staying sedentary. Typically I love to head outside, go for long walks, and maybe even hit up the gym. But if you’re socially isolating, that’s not really an option.
One thing I love to do is Yoga With Adrienne every morning. She has two different 30-day yoga series on Youtube (along with tons of other yoga videos), and they’re all only around 20 minutes long. I’ve found it so easy to just pop one on my tv first thing every morning, and it really starts my day outright. Not only that, but the slow breathing in addition to the exercise has really helped me take my mind off all the stress and chaos going on right now.
If you’re looking for something a bit more high-impact, I used to do daily workouts with Figure 8 Fitness, taught by a professional Latin ballroom dancer. If you love Zumba, you’re going to really enjoy this! Granted, the videos are all 45-55 minutes long and pretty intense, so you’ll need to have more time set aside to do them!
4. Work From a Table or Desk (Not Your Bed or Couch!!)
I know it can be super tempting to work from somewhere soft and comfortable like your couch or your bed… but trust me, your back is going to HATE you and it’s going to be very hard for you to focus and get work done. I highly suggest clearing off a desk or table, even if it’s just the kitchen table!
Here in Tbilisi, Chris and I pulled our one table out from the wall to make desk space for the two of us as we work diagonally across from one another. This table has become our “office space” and is separate from where we relax, on our couch or bed.
5. Use Noise Cancelling Headphones While You Work
It can be really hard to focus if you’re working from home surrounded by people who aren’t, especially if you have kids or other loud family members! I’m a huge fan of my Sennheiser headphones, Sennheiser HD 4.50. My husband Chris got these for me two years ago and I’m OBSESSED. Not only are they great quality noise-canceling headphones, but they also are somewhat oval-shaped so they fit over your ears super comfortably. My brother is a professional musician and he even swears by these while he’s working on editing and producing songs!
If you really need to put your head down and get work done, I highly suggest getting yourself a good pair of noise-canceling headphones! If you don’t have much money set aside for a good pair, you can even find noise-canceling earbuds!
6. Create Your Own Home Office Hours
When you work from home it can be really tempting to procrastinate and work strange hours, especially if you’re not told which hours you need to work from a boss.
Unfortunately, not all of us can be freaks of nature like my husband Chris. He’s able to wake up and walk straight from bed to his desk, sit down (without coffee or breakfast!) and just… get it his work done? I know. It’s crazy!
Meanwhile, if I don’t create set hours for myself to work, I will just work all day long, very inefficiently. When I lived in Vietnam this got especially bad. I would sleep in late, eat brunch, work from noon until dinner, watch an episode or two of tv with dinner and then… work more?! I would actually end up working from around 10 pm until midnight or later and it was so unhealthy!
Now I try to get started on work around 10-11 am and I close the laptop and stop working around 5-7 pm. No more working late in the evenings unless I have a specific call or training with someone based in the US.
7. Get Away From Your Computer in the Evening
When you work from home you can sometimes end up sitting in front of your computer in the same spot ALL DAY LONG and then after dinner, you’ll go back to the same computer and sit there some more. That is so unhealthy!
In the evenings go read a book, watch a tv show on a real-tv, hang out with your family, or play a video game. The only time I come back to my computer in the evenings is if I want to play Stardew Valley on my computer, and then I still avoid the internet, clear off my work stuff, and enjoy some time disconnected while playing my game.
If you’re really stressed right now, I highly suggest playing something relaxing, reading a fiction or fantasy novel (I’m reading the Wheel of Time series right now!), or watching a captivating and weirdly hilarious show like the Tiger Kingdom.
8. Order a Laptop Stand For Your Work Laptop
If you work from home on a laptop, chances are, your back is already feeling the pain of poor posture. I honestly can not believe I waited as long as I have to get a laptop stand because it has CHANGED MY LIFE. I love this Roost laptop stand because it folds up very small to fit in my backpack.
While I definitely recommend Roost stand for the quality, there is a Chinese knockoff called Nexstand for less than half the price that should do the job just fine too!
Now, in order for the laptop stand to work, you’ll also need to grab a USB keyboard and mouse. Thankfully there are plenty of affordable ones you can get on Amazon. I have the Jelly Comb USB keyboard and mouse and they work great!
9. Meal Prep Your Work Lunches
Ugh, really? I’m definitely not one of those meal-prep gurus, but even I have to admit that having a pre-prepared lunch is a game-changer when it comes to working from home. If I have to take a ton of time out of my day to prepare a lunch, that’s time I’m wasting where I could be getting work done… and let’s be honest, I’ll probably just order delivery.
I highly recommend meal-prepping a big batch of something simple to have on hand for quick and healthy lunches. I’ve done baked chicken with broccoli and carrots and some sweet potato. I’ve also tried healthy soups too!
If you really don’t want to meal prep, just make a large serving for dinner and have leftovers for lunch the next day. This is how Chris and I have been surviving quarantine!
10. Set Ground Rules With Other People
This last one can be really difficult if you work from home and are surrounded by other people who aren’t working. Whether it’s your children or your parents, it can be hard to work from home when you’re surrounded by people who aren’t accustomed to this lifestyle and constantly try to interrupt you.
I’ve been working from home for a few years now, and I’ve spent plenty of time doing this while staying with family. When you work from the dining room table (or worse, the COUCH) your family will naturally want to chat with you as they go about their daily business. While it’s nice to have family around, it can be super frustrating to have constant work interruptions all the time.
If you can’t separate yourself in another room, you will definitely want to be really upfront with your family and let them know your work hours and the times you need to work without being interrupted. A good pair of noise-canceling headphones is also really great because you can crank up the music and no one will be able to talk to you. They’re also great at drowning out the screams of your children… just kidding (kind of).
How is Working From Home Going For You?
Are you new to working from home? Let me know how it’s going in a comment below! Which of these tips have you aced, and which are you still working on?
If you have any friends who are new to working from home, be sure to share this article with them to help them through the process! I know it can be a big adjustment, but trust me, it’s great once you get the hang of it!
Finally, if you’re experienced with working from home, is there anything I’ve missed? Be sure to leave your tips in a comment below!