10 Ways to Successfully Work From Home
To many people, working from home sounds like the greatest thing since sliced bread. While it certainly has its perks, it can become challenging to stay focused and productive outside of an office environment.
Prior to my concussion, I only worked from home a handful of times due to weather and let me tell you…the struggle was real! Since my concussion, I’ve worked from home at limited hours approved by my neurologist [more on that here]. As my hours increased every month or so, I kept learning more and more ways to make working from my cozy apartment as productive as possible.
With that, here are my top 10 ways to successfully work from home that keep you productive, efficient and on schedule.
1 - GET DRESSED | I know, I know - you’re probably thinking “But Stepf, working from home means not getting ready and getting to be in sweats all day!” While that certainly can be a perk for some, I found that it did not work for me. I felt less productive in sweats, like I wasn’t actually working. Just the simple task of putting on regular clothes - even if it’s jean shorts and a tee, or jeans and a flannel - being in real clothes made me feel like I was doing something other than lounging at my apartment; it created separation from work and Netflix + chill.
2 - STICK TO A MORNING ROUTINE | for me, the transition was difficult because I felt like I was out of my routine [ignoring all of the concussion stuff]. No commute, no packing a lunch and snacks, no need to fully get ready. But once I created a new routine, I found that I felt more productive. I make sure to wake up around the same time each morning. I get ready as if I were going to the office, to a certain extent [like putting on real clothes mentioned above]. I started working at 9am, just like I would if I were going to the office.
3 - CREATE A DEDICATED WORK SPACE | I know not everyone has space for a full home office but dedicating a specific area to work, again helps create that separation from work and Netflix + chill. It could be an actual desk/office space, or a specific chair at your dining table, or a specific spot on your couch. It should be the same space each day so that your brain associates it with work. If you’re lucky enough to have an office room/space, you can keep all of your work items in that room/area and out of site. If you don’t, keep your laptop and any other work items in a bag or backpack. Each morning when you grab that bag or backpack, it signals to your brain that it is time for work.
4 - STAY ORGANIZED | this one may seem obvious but it deserves it’s spotlight. I’ve always been someone who uses calendars, notebooks, reminders and to-do lists but I’ve found since working from home, they’ve become even more relevant. Block off times in your calendar to work on specific tasks; this allows your brain to focus on one thing at a time. Create folders or labels in your email so you can easily resort back to something if needed. Make lists, be it in a notebook or on your phone. Check back to that lists throughout the day to see how your pacing. Use a notebook to take notes during conference calls, or write down things that pop in your head throughout the day, or to jot down reminders. I have a slight obsession with office supplies and stationary so I always love hunting for new notebooks, calendars and pens.
5 - FIND YOUR GO-TO FOCUS ELEMENT | this was a no brainer for me and I used this technique even when I was in the office. Music is my go-to for tasks that require me to really hone in and focus. The style of music depends on my mood or what I’m working on but I have go-to playlists ready at all times. For others, it may be diffusing certain essential oils, lighting a certain candle, meditating for 5 minutes, being next to a window for natural light or accomplishing the easiest tasks on your to-do list first. Whatever your go-to element is, make it a part of your routine when you really need to focus.
6 - STAY HYDRATED | when I was in the office, I always had a tumbler at my desk and would fill it up multiple times throughout the day. I used the time getting up from my desk to refill my tumbler as a quick break for my eyes and mind from the computer. Sometimes I made it a game to see how many times I could refill it in a day - hellooooo hydration [and multiple trips to the restroom!]. I found when I first started working from home that I would get so sucked into my work that I forgot to not only refill my tumbler, but to even drink water altogether! I made it a point to put my water in a fun tumbler - bonus points for having a reusable straw! My go-to now is the reusable cup/lid/straw from Starbucks - it’s only $3!! You can also add things like lemon or cucumber to your water to spice it up a bit.
7 - STAY FUELED | just like remembering to stay hydrated, it’s important to remember to stay fueled and eat. We’ve all been there - whether working from home or in an office - where you get so focused on what you’re doing, look at the clock and realize that lunch was hours ago and the afternoon slump is about to set in. If it helps, set a reminder in your calendar or on your phone to stop and eat lunch. Have grab and go snacks [or coffee] ready for the afternoon slump that is bound to hit you every now and then. My go-to snacks are RXBAR, Emmy’s Organics Coconut Cookies, veggies with hummus, a honeycrisp apple with peanut butter or energy bites [check out the recipe for my peanut butter chocolate coconut energy bites] .
8 - MEAL PREP | this one tags off of the stay fueled point above. Even though you have the ability to make an elaborate lunch working from home, it can certainly be a time suck and take away from your productivity. Meal prepping on a Sunday and having key staples to whip together a quick and healthy lunch is key and something that really helps me. I prep basics that allow me flexibility throughout the week, as I’m not one to want the same meal 10 times in one week. Roasted veggies, greens and a grain [along with pantry + fridge staples] allow for ample flexibility throughout the week. And having them prepped saves time and effort during the work day so all you have to do is reheat quickly and assemble. [perk #9834926 of working from home…getting to eat on real plates and not from tupperware]
9 - GET MOBILE | nowadays, working from home doesn’t have to mean just from your home. Take advantage of the flexibility to work outside on a nice day, at a cafe or coffee shop, or in a library. The change of scenery can do wonders for your motivation and creativity! In the city, Rival Bros. was my go-to spot. Now that I’ve been at my apartment in KOP, my go-to spots lately have been Green Engine Coffee Co. or Barnes & Noble. Be sure to have your laptop, cell phone, any necessary chargers and a portable hotspot. Don’t forget the snacks!
10 - MULTI-TASK | you’re probably wondering how this makes you more successful. Well if you’re working the standard 40 hours/week from home, you still may find yourself falling behind on house chores or laundry. Even if you aren’t at 40 hours/week, a perk of working from home is that it allows you to multi-task. Start a load of laundry right before you sit down to start your day. When it’s time to switch loads or put something in the dryer, use that as an opportunity to give your eyes a quick break from the computer screen - which is becoming more and more of a necessity these days. While you’re heating up your lunch, take that time to tidy up your kitchen or put laundry away. Multi-tasking throughout your day will certainly make you feel more productive when the work from home day is done!
And that my friends, are 10 ways to successfully work from. Do you prefer working from home or in an office environment? Have any additional tips or tricks to be productive working from home? Share below in the comments!