Working from home — it doesn’t actually mean what a lot of people think it means.
No, I don’t have Scandal playing in the background (that show requires full attention, obviously), I’m not in my pjs (majority of the time), and I’m not laying under the cozy quilt on my bed. Yes, it is a perk that if I WANTED to work that way then I could… But most people that work from home will tell you that it just isn’t reality.
In full disclosure, I’ve never had an office job. But I’d imagine that working from home is actually much more difficult than having an office to commute to every day for the sole purpose of WORKING.
Working from home has every single distraction that you could ever think of all within a few doors.
TGIT episodes backed up on the DVR (Shonda Rhimes you the real mvp), a pantry full of snack foods that just seem ALL so tempting ALL the time, a bed that is just calling out for nap (ugh, sounds PERFECT right now), and dishes and laundry and clutter begging your inner clean-freak for immediate attention (not today, satan).
It’s so easy to fall into the temptations of being in your home base all day.
But the reality is, home base is also your workplace. And you need to figure out ways to treat it as such or else your work will suffer. Big time.
This is currently something that I still struggle with, and am trying to master. I have a lot of improvement to make. Believe me. But I do have general habits that work very well for me and an idea of the goals that I have in the future to continue bettering my method.
So here we go, let’s step up your game for good!
1. Start with a healthy wake up routine.
Working from home means you don’t have to wake up to an obnoxious alarm if you don’t want to. Either way, you need to create a good wake up routine.
For me this means laying in bed half-asleep for 15 minutes before I can even function. I get up, brush my hair, teeth, wash my face, and change. Then I drink my green tea while relaxing on the couch for a little while. I also take this time to get in some always much needed quality time and conversation with my Tony.
If I don’t get a chance to take my time with my morning routine then I will feel anxious and rushed for a good majority of the day. I’m a creature of habit and need my routine to function properly.
It’s important for you to develop a good wake up routine because I truly believe that it sets your intentions for the day. If you wake up, go about your routine, and have a relaxing time then your day should go about the same path. But if you wake up, immediately look at your obnoxious to-do list, start stressing, and open up your laptop first thing then your day might not be as enjoyable.
2. Get ready for the day!
I know what you’re thinking. “Ugh no way I’m not leaving the house today so why bother?” But seriously, your productivity will thank you.
I get SO much more done and feel SO much better when I actually get up and change out of my pjs. You can still wear comfy clothes, just don’t wear your pjs. I usually stick to yoga pants and a good tee or tank with a cardigan. Some people also do their makeup every day… but I am not one of those people. I love actually doing my makeup… But having makeup on makes me uncomfortable throughout the day and actually distracts me. I’ll start thinking about how my makeup is starting to feel gross and I can’t wait to take it off. So I usually just avoid that unless I have actual plans with other people that day.
No matter how simple you keep it (or if you go all out), getting ready for the day is something that can signal to your brain that it is time to get into work mode and switch gears.
3. Claim your workspace.
Create an office — whether it be an entire room or a corner in a room.
I know sometimes it is absolute happiness to work under the cozy covers in bed, or on the couch in front of the tv. And it’s actually one of the perks of the gig — being able to work from wherever.
But sometimes you just REALLY need to buckle down and get shit done. A workspace helps with this immensely. Make it a space in your home that is completely your style and that gets you in the zone.
In my current apartment, I don’t really have a designated space for myself. But as I start to become more serious about blogging I’m definitely committing to making that a priority. Granted, my space will most likely be a desk in the corner of our bedroom or at our unused dining room table… But wherever it is, I’m going to write my name all over it and embrace it as my own little oasis. A workspace is a workspace.
4. Get the vibe right.
For me, this means my favorite candle, my go-to beverage(s), some music, lots of light, and no tv or other distractions.
Candles always relax me. No matter what. So when I work I always light one just to kind of get me into a good, relaxed mood. Being in a good mood helps with my focus and productivity immensely. Half of the things that I do to get my vibe right are just things that make me happy and put me in a good mood.
I always always always have a giant cup of water with me (at all times). When I sit down to work I have to add some hot tea into the mix. Green tea is my go-to. It’s also one of the easiest teas to find in decaf (I try to stay away from caffeine at all times, but especially later in the day). I also really like ginger tea (for a kick), chai tea (with extra spice), and oolong tea (for a sweeter taste).
Now, a lot of people can only work with instrumental or white noise playing in the background… the typical “concentration” soundtrack… Yeah, I find that more distracting than helpful. Call me crazy. But I prefer to have a jam session — especially while I’m writing. I can listen to rap and then switch to Ed Sheeran in the blink of an eye and throw a lotta bit of Weezer or Sublime in there… There’s really no telling. Nothing gets me flowing and inspires me more than a playlist of my favorite songs.
Find what inspires you or lifts you up. This is what you need to keep around when you start working.
5. Keep it organized.
Keep your workspace, laptop, notes, etc. organized TO THE MAX. Or else you will get nothing done (if you’re anything like me).
Before I start working I have to straighten up the area around me, close out any tabs or distractions on my laptop, and make sure nothing is out of place (everything has a space and it lives in that space, right?). Know where your notes are, where your supplies are, where your chargers are.
6. Be comfortable.
Whether is be your clothes, your chair, the lighting in the room, the temperature, your food and drink. Being comfortable will keep unnecessary distractions and fidgeting to a minimum. It’s really as simple as that.
7. Set a routine and create a work schedule.
Yes, I know. Not having a strict schedule is another perk of the gig. But what I find most effective is planning out the hours to work for the day, and sticking to them. Or planning out hours for the week, while taking into consideration other plans and responsibilities.
Having a schedule helps keep me on track. It’s like a reward system. “Okay, Ali… Work from now until 8pm and then it’s time for some guilty pleasure tv.” You can’t forget to treat yo self sometimes. Efficient, right?
You can also create a strict schedule (go you!) and stick to that instead if schedules help you. Maybe plan to wake up at 8am, work until 12. Break from 12-2 (or later…) and then done with the workday by 5 or 6.
I work better when the apartment is empty and I can get into my full zone… Which isn’t mornings or afternoons around here. My boyfriend works nights and he doesn’t leave until after 5pm. So that’s usually when I buckle down and get to some serious business. UNLESS it’s a Sunday and he’s offshore fishing. That’s the day I like to try to get some photography in since I’m able to work in the natural light when the sun is up!
I do like to wake up fairly early though and get stuff done in the mornings too. So I make sure to shut down all my technology around 1am at the latest so I can start winding down. (Side note: it’s very very hard not to be a night-owl when your boyfriend doesn’t get home from work until 5am)
8. Take breaks.
Spend time with family, go outside (please please please do not go 3 days without feeling the sunshine), eat good foods, stay hydrated. Refresh your mind. Don’t work for hours on end without doing this. Your work and productivity will thank you later for giving your mind and body a small breather.
9. Set boundaries.
When you’re working let your spouse, kids, or anyone else know. That way you can go unbothered and continue without distractions ruining your mojo.
There is a much needed boundary that needs to be established between personal and work life, which is often so difficult to get when you work from home. But you’ll find it’s much easier if you have those in your household help you manage it.
There you have it. Seriously, these habits have made a world of difference in my work ethic. I mean, if I was a manager I would hire me. I don’t have it DOWN yet but damn, I’m getting good.
Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest. You’ll find some inspiration for an office space, organization tips, and SO many other things.