Ironically, my editorial calendar (planned months ago) had me scheduled to write a post about work/life balance today since I often work from home. Given the current climate and many companies shifting to require employees to work from home for now, I thought it would be wise to alter my post. In all of my career – from age 22 until now – I have been in outside sales and in a work from home environment. Until 2019, I never even had the option of an office to go into. Working from home has always been my normal and now for a lot of you, it’s the “new normal”. As someone who has mastered the craft of finding balance, productivity and normalcy by working within my home, I want to share some best practices that work for me. I know it may be a huge adjustment for a lot of you, but rest assured that working from home had its advantages! Try to embrace this phase with some positivity and curiosity – there may be some trial and error until you find what works best for you.
Get Ready As Normal: This is a tough one for those who are used to going into an office and all of the sudden have the flexibility to work form home, but it is important to not go into total slacker mode. Now, I’m not saying you need to put a suit and tie on to sit at your kitchen table; however, there is something about taking a shower and changing out of your pajamas that immediately makes me feel productive and “in the mood” to work. Admittedly, there are days that I wear yoga pants and sweatshirts but I at least look presentable.
Keep Your Morning Routine: Absolutely key when working from home! I wake up at the same time, take a shower, use my ice roller, let me dog out, grab a coffee, check my personal emails and read my blogs all before I start my workday. I need that hour routine to keep a sense of normalcy and consistency to hold me accountable. If you go to the gym before work, continue to go! If you grab a coffee from your local Starbucks, head that way! Treat the work day as a normal work day and it will be easier to keep a normal schedule going and be productive.
Take Your Lunch Break: You earned this hour, now go enjoy it! I still like to meal prep so that I can quickly throw together a salad as I’m typically famished by lunchtime (#intermittentfasting). On Sundays, I like to chop up veggies, make a batch of hard boiled eggs and homemade salad dressing so that I can toss my lunch together immediately and enjoy! I prefer to take my lunch hour outside, if I can. I’ll usually spend the first 30 minutes going for a walk (listening to a podcast or calling a friend) and then the last 30 minutes chowing down. If you find yourself feeling lonely or too isolated, go meet a colleague for a quick bite or FaceTime with a friend for a virtual lunch date!
Designate an “Office”: For some of us that may be an entire home office, for others (like me!) it’s simply a dining room table. Whatever it is, make it your “office” during your work hours. That means have everything you need ready to go – computer, notepad, chargers, pens, office supplies, etc. Ideally you would have a door separating you from others, especially if you have anyone else in your home. Whatever you do, don’t sit on your sofa or on your bed – first its horrible for your posture and, more importantly, it’s near impossible to get work done this way. Grab a chair, find a desk and make it work.
Minimize Your Distractions: This is, without a doubt, the most challenging part about working from home. Between the pile of laundry, the dirty ditches, snacks in the fridge and your Netflix account – the distractions are endless! Add in other people, kids, neighbors, animals and you it’s easy to see how it can be difficult to get work done. Now, the home-related distractions are just a mind-over-matter type of situation. I refuse to turn the tv on or do chores until after work. With kids and spouses, it’s important to set boundaries. Keep a notepad outside your office door so that they can slide through notes if needed, or have a rule about no knocking on the door or calling your name between certain hours. Find out what works for your family and stick to it.
Get up Once an Hour: I cannot tell you how many times I have looked up at the clock in disbelief that hours passed without me even noticing – let alone getting up! It is important to get up once an hour not only give your eyes a break but also to prevent stiffness and back pain. Set an alarm if that’s what it takes. Take 5-10 minutes and use this time to do something for yourself. For example, take the dog for a walk around the block, throw a load of laundry in, practice a quick yoga sequence, pick up your prescription at the drugstore, go grab a cup of coffee, make a quick call to a friend, enjoy a lemonade on the back porch. Make the break worthwhile!
So whether working from home is your every day life or you are temporarily instructed to stay inside, the key is to keep treating the work day like a normal work day…no matter where you may be! I like to continue the adult interaction – check in with a few colleagues every day, call a friend or family member or take video calls. Take a few days for trial and error to see what works best for you and your situation.