Times are a bit crazy right now. With COVID-19, there are a lot more of us who are working from home. As a self-employed Registered Dietitian who runs an online private practice and business, I’m pretty familiar with the whole work-from-home routine. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a struggle sometimes. There are some days that I have shockingly low levels of motivation, spend the entire day wondering what I should be doing, or find an entire day going by without getting anything significant done. But as someone who’s worked from home for over a year, I think I’ve somewhat figured it out. In order to help those of you who might be new to the work-from-home (or WFH, as my Mom loves to call it) world, I’m spilling all my top tips for how to work from home and have productive, positive days.
1. Wake up at the same time every day
Trust me, I completely understand the temptation when working from home to wake up whenever your body decides. But I encourage you to keep yourself in a consistent wake-up and bedtime routine as much as possible, the same way you would if you were going to work. This starts the day off on the right foot, ensures that you have enough time for yourself in the morning instead of jumping right into work, and makes it easier to fall asleep at night.
2. Have a morning routine
Having a morning routine can set you up for a productive and positive day. A morning routine can be as extensive or minimal as you’d like, but the idea is to start the day off on the right foot. Make time in the morning to do whatever makes you happy, whether that be reading, going for a run or other workout, taking time to meditate, stretching, or just enjoying your coffee on the couch. Savor this time for yourself before the busyness of the day begins.
3. Move your body
Moving your body doesn’t have to be an intense workout, but simply doing a bit of movement in the morning can help reduce feelings of restlessness throughout the day. Try stretching, going for a quick walk, or working out in the morning.
4. Get dressed
Trust me, I understand how easy it is to stay in your pajamas all day. But acting as if you’re actually heading out the door to go to work by changing out of your pajamas helps to get into the working headspace. While I don’t always wear business-casual clothes working from home, even changing into something a little more presentable helps.
5. Make a realistic to-do list
This goes for whether you’re working from home or elsewhere. I’m definitely guilty of trying to add everything possible to my to-do list, but I find that this more often than not leaves me feeling disappointed with how much I’m able to actually get done. Making a to-do list of just 2-3 main tasks, and 3-4 smaller tasks (optional) means that your to-do list is actually achievable.
6. Time block
Time blocking is one of the greatest productivity hacks I’ve ever come across. A lot of us have the tendency to be working on a specific task, remember something else we have to do, switching over to that task, and doing the same thing over and over until the day is done. Jumping around from task to task means our brains don’t have the time to fully sink into the task at hand, or get to its most productive state. Instead, write down a timetable of exactly what you’ll be working on at certain times of the day, and don’t stray from it.
10-12: Blog posts
3:30-5:00: Instagram posts
7. Take breaks
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re not allowed breaks. Consider how much time you actually spend talking to your coworkers, grabbing coffee or attending pointless meetings when working at a traditional office space. When you work from home, there’s significantly less of that mindless interaction, meaning you need to give your brain a break in other ways. Take a break every hour or two to stretch, make yourself some tea or coffee, or check social media.
8. Go outside
I can’t stress this one enough. Getting fresh air and realizing that there’s a world that exists outside the walls of your home is so important. Take a few minutes during one of your breaks or lunchtime to go for a walk, or just sit in your backyard or balcony. I love going for walks at the end of the day since it really breaks up work-time versus home-time.
9. Have a designated workspace
While I’d be lying if I said I don’t ever work from my couch, I try not to do it often. Having a designated work-space versus living-space means that we’re more likely the separate the two. If you live in a small space (welcome to the club), even working at your kitchen table helps to make that separation.
10. Have designated working hours
While having flexible hours is one of the huge benefits of working from home, I encourage you to try to have specified working hours most of the time. This helps with the separation between ‘work-life’ and ‘home life’. Try not to check emails, answer work phone calls, or think too much about work tasks outside of working hours. On the other side of the coin, try not to do personal chores or meet up with friends for non-work related activities during working hours.
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