Working from home sounds like the dream, right? Lounging in your pajamas all day, working from the couch, keeping tv on in the background, doing laundry whenever you want. Turns out, it’s not as ideal as it may seem. When I switched to working from home, and by myself, five years ago, I struggled. At first, it was awesome. But as the weeks turned to months, I found that my productivity and my focus really took a hit. Working from home suddenly felt more isolating than it did refreshing. I missed the solid routines of an office job (or a classroom, in my case) and I struggled with figuring out where I fit into society.
Now I can say I LOVE working from home and feel good about most days of work, but it’s taken a ton of tweaks here and there. Here are my tops tips that I’ve mastered, and highly recommend, from these past 5 years.
Tips to Help You Survive Working From Home
Time Block When Working From Home
This tip is by far the most important thing I do every day. Each morning I create a realistic schedule for my day based on my to-do list. Then I block everything off into set times that I know are manageable. I typically work in 15-minute time blocks, 50-minute time blocks, or 90-minute time blocks. For example, answering an email typically take 15 minutes, so I’ll set a timer for 15 minutes and plan to finish that task by then. I give myself 5-minute breaks in between each task and even do dishes, laundry, or clean during these breaks.
During my breaks, I try to give my brain a rest and watch an episode of something on tv, listen to a podcast, or listen to an audiobook. This helps make these tasks more enjoyable and I get excited to do them versus dreading them. My favorite tool for time-blocking is Be Focused Pro. It sits in the top corner of my screen and keeps me on track. But you could also easily use pen + paper and your phone timer!
Set Boundaries While Working From Home
One of the benefits of working from home is the flexible schedule. But it’s also one of the downfalls. People assume you’re always available, and so it can be hard to turn down phone calls from family or say no to that margarita lunch with friends. When you’re setting boundaries, you really are setting them for yourself. It’s great to treat yourself to these fun things from time to time, but you also need to know when to say NO.
Before having our son, I worked from 7am-6 pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and 7-1 on Fridays. Now that we have our son, I work 10-4 on Monday and Wednesday, and 8-12 on Saturday mornings. And I WORK MY BUTT OFF. I fit more work into those time periods that I previously did in a traditional workweek. I wrote a book in 6 weeks using that schedule. So I know things can get done on it. I time block, say no to things, and basically turn my phone off when I’m in “work mode”. This isn’t to say I still don’t work on the couch at night… I still work on my social media schedule and Pinterest and the more “fun” aspects of my job (Instagram Stories!!) at night or during the “off” hours. But the meat of what I do is completed during those times.
Dress Comfy When Working From Home
I’ve read so many articles that recommend dressing for work even when you’re working from home. My dad is the biggest believer in that. But it does NOT work for me! So figure out what works best for you… I do my best work when I’m in leggings and a comfy top. And that’s what you’ll find me wearing most days! No shoes, no socks, no problem. 😉
Choose Your Work Space Carefully
When I first began working from home, I mainly sat on the couch. It’s the comfiest, right? Sure… until I got carpal tunnel. Womp womp. Now I sit at a chair and table. Usually, that’s my kitchen counter. But it can also be at Starbucks (with noise-canceling headphones and instrumental music playing) or the local library.
Set Your Schedule Wisely When Working From Home
It took me a while, but I eventually realized that I need an official start and end time each day. Before having our son, I taught online from 7-9 am every day. This meant I had to be ready to teach at 7. Which means I woke up at 6 am, worked out and completed my bible study before 7 am. When I finished teaching at 9 am, I could start a load of laundry, meet on the phone with my business partner, and make breakfast before showering and getting to work! If you’re not a morning person, don’t strive to wake up early. Instead, start your morning slowly and roll into your day. But be sure to finish strong. Setting expectations for yourself, and meeting them, is a huge part of feeling happy while working from home.
Choose the Right Background Noise
For some reason, I didn’t realize how important background music was for me when working from home. But not just any music- it has to be instrumental, upbeat, music. It helps me stay focused. Any music with words throws me off, especially when I’m writing! I created this playlist for me and hope it helps you too! You can listen to it below or head to Spotify and click “follow” to listen to it whenever you need to get into a working groove.
My schedule rarely stays the same from one day to the next… it’s hard to stay focused and I’m often distracted. But in the “perfect day,” this is what my schedule looks like. I go into more detail about my daily schedule HERE.
Work At Home Schedule Before Kids
Work At Home Schedule After Having Kids
If Something Isn’t Working, Adjust Until it Does
Whenever something just isn’t working for me, I hop on Pinterest and search for something to help me. Maybe it’s simple lunches I can make and eat one-handed (while I type and work) or an at-home live workout that will get me out of bed and moving on tough days. There are so many solutions out there. Maybe that’s how you came across this blog post? Whatever brought you here, I hope you found something that will help you survive and thrive while working from home!