I’ve always wondered what it would be like to work at home and that “wonder” became reality on March 16. It’s now been a month and a half of working at home and I have learned to absolutely love it. It was a serious adjustment at first, but I’ve found a few things to put into place throughout the day that make it not only enjoyable, but seriously productive as well. And I’m able to still maintain the important separation between “work-time” and “home-time”.
If you’re a seasoned pro of working at home or if you’ve just started like me, let me know in the comments your thoughts and things you do to stay productive, but also maintain that separation between working and just being at home. I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!
Let’s get into the 4 things I’ve learned while working at home!
Routines are important, maybe even more important when working at home.
Whether you think you do or not, you have a morning routine. Maybe it’s as simple as getting up, getting ready and commuting to work. Maybe it includes getting the kids off to school, a workout, making breakfast, swinging by the coffee shop and picking up your morning cup of magic to start your day. No matter how you start your day, I bet there are things you do regularly, if not every day, before heading into the office.
Now, add in the sudden change to working at home and I don’t know about you, but suddenly all those routine morning things are different or gone. For me, my mornings went from waking up, getting ready, hitting up Starbucks and driving 30 minutes to work all while jamming to my favorite music straight to waking up and wondering “so what now? Just get up and start working?” No. It’s still important to have some time between waking up and starting the work day.
I’ve discovered routine is very important to me and I needed to start a new at-home-work-day routine in order to feel like I still had a “morning” before starting work. The trips to Starbucks, the 30 minute drive to work and jamming in the car to my favorite songs might be gone, but the time is still there.
Each day now, I wake up, still get ready and then head downstairs to make my breakfast and a coffee. I replaced my 30 minute commute with 30 minutes of making and enjoying breakfast and my coffee.
I’m someone who rarely ate breakfast, but now I eat breakfast every day. I’ve come to learn why they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. From someone who went from never eating breakfast to eating breakfast everyday, it’s amazing how much better you feel and how much more energy you have in the morning! Go figure! Breakfast sandwiches with egg, avocado and tomato or simple avocado toast has been my go to breakfast staple lately.
My new morning routine is still about the same amount of time as my old morning routine (just saving more money without those many trips to Starbucks – HA!). In many ways, I feel like my new morning routine has been by far a healthier way to start the morning and I feel like I’ve finally found the “me-time” I always wished I had in the morning. As the summer days get closer and the warmer weather arrives, I think it’d be even more amazing to take breakfast and my coffee out to the porch to enjoy.
Take breaks away from your workspace.
This is important, but also one I tend to struggle with as well. It’s important throughout the work day to “get away from work.” Stepping away and taking breaks can help you reset for the rest of your day and come back to your tasks or a problem you’re trying to solve with fresh eyes and maybe a new perspective.
When working at home, it might be even easier to just never step away and truly take a break. But you need to! I’m fortunate enough to live in a house where I can escape to the deck or patio area on our nice spring days. Fresh air is so important and can be great for taking a break away from the work day. If you can, find some time to sit outside or take a quick walk around your neighborhood. If that’s not an option for you, at the very least go to a different room to take a break during your work day. Don’t take a break where you work. It’s hard to completely relax and take a break from what you’re working on when you’re still staring at it.
Thankfully, it’s getting warmer where I live so it’s more enjoyable to take a break outside. But don’t let cloudy, gloomy weather keep you indoors. Last month, I bundled up multiple times to take a walk, even when it was snowing. It’s so refreshing to get outside to break up the work day and I usually feel so productive when it’s time to get back to my to do list after a walk. Plus, who knew walking in the snow would be so peaceful? Not that I want it to keep snowing, I’m ready for SUMMER.
Don’t forget to treat your lunch breaks as specific time away from work too. Don’t eat lunch where you’re working. It’s tempting to just answer a few emails while eating, I know, but don’t do it. As with the importance of routine I talked about above, the “routine” of a lunch break is also still important. This might be difficult if you’re workspace is set up at the kitchen table or island. If that’s the case, close your laptop, maybe pick up your space a little bit so you don’t have your papers sprawled out all over the place and try to unwind and not think about work while you eat lunch. Or make your lunch and go eat somewhere else in your home. Either way, make sure you’re taking that lunch break away from your computer.
End the day by putting work away.
This is a big one. Perhaps one of the most important things I started doing right from the start of working at home. It has become a habit I would highly recommend to anyone working from home, whether it’s the first time or not.
End your work day picking everything up and putting everything in its place.
That’s right. It makes a HUGE difference. My work at home space is a desk in my bedroom which means when I’m not working, I still see my desk. Do I want to see piles of paper, my to do list for the next day, or even the work that I didn’t get to all evening? No. I don’t. It’s important to have a separation of work-time and home-time, especially when working at home.
At the end of each work day, I spend about 5-10 minutes picking up my space. I have my work bag that I bring to the office by my desk. I put my work computer, any papers I was working on, and my work planner all in my work bag. Just like I would if I were at the office. Next, I take any coffee mugs or glasses to the kitchen. I straighten up the rest of my desk, push in my desk chair and that closes my work day setting up my evening for work-free, home-time!
Keep the humor from the office alive.
There’s nothing I love more than making people smile, cracking jokes or giggling down the halls at work with my coworkers. Be sure to keep that same fun while working at home. It can be easy to not talk to anyone throughout the work day when at home, but there’s an abundance of availability in texting, email, online chat and video chatting tools to keep you connected with your coworkers.
I love minions. Like L-O-V-E minions. My supervisor equally shares my love of minions and sent a surprise package to my house one day. This is like the funniest thing ever and I know what I am going to be for Halloween this year! Send funny pictures to your coworkers showing work at home life or have a dress-up themed meeting with your team. No matter what, be sure to make the transition of working at home fun and keep the humor from the office alive!
Meanwhile, I’ll be working on the patio perfecting my minion laugh.
I hope you’ve found some of these tips helpful if you’re adjusting to working at home. Wishing you all the best!