Working from home comes with a lot of freedom, but at times it can feel a little daunting. Most of us who work in offices have gotten used to the scheduling and social interactions that come from our 9-to-5 routines, so when we’re faced with nothing but our computer screens and our couch, we don’t quite know how to approach it. Here are 15 tips to help you make the most of your time at home.
1. Designate your working-from-home space
Pick out a space that’s meant for work, and work alone. Whether you have the luxury of a home office, or it’s just a spot at your dining table or specific corner of your couch, make it yours and “go to work” there every morning. Try to keep it as tidy and clutter-free as possible, so you’re not tempted to procrastinate by tidying up all the time.
2. Dress the part
The simplest thing you can do to set yourself up for work-from-home success is getting dressed in the morning. It may sound simple, but it psychologically sets you up for a productive day. It doesn’t need to be what you’d wear to an actual office, though. Even loungewear will do the trick, as long as it’s not your pyjamas.
3. Set up a daily schedule
If your desk is a 5-second walk away, why bother to get up on time? Research has found that having consistent daily routines can have a positive impact on your mental health, your sleep and even your weight.
If you’re stumped, try simply starting and ending work at the same time each day. Define a set lunchtime, maybe even setting a calendar alert to remind you to nourish yourself. By putting these simple rules in place, you’ll find a rhythm that works for you.
4. Create a work playlist
If you play the same song at the start of every workday, it’ll soon become a trigger to your brain that it’s time to focus. What you play can vary: some people love soothing atmospherics, while others look for soulful jams.
5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
It’s easy to forget to drink enough water when you’re working from home, which can lead to a crash later on in your day. Tricks include the Ayurvedic tip of starting your day with hot water and lemon (also good for controlling sweet cravings) and keeping a refillable pitcher of water at your desk. If you find the taste of water boring, try some soothing iced tea.
6. Make the connection
It’s important not to feel isolated from your coworkers and friends while you’re working from home. Create moments to check in, whether it’s a ten-minute virtual coffee with your team first thing in the morning, or a mid-afternoon break to text your bestie.
7. Take productive breaks
Speaking of breaks, it’s important to incorporate them into your schedule, so you don’t get caught up in procrastination. Try the Pomodoro Technique to help you focus: 4 rounds of 25 minutes of focus and 5 minutes of rest, with a longer 15-minute break afterwards. Be sure to take your break away from your desk so you’re not tempted to let it stretch into your working time.
8. Stretch it out
Spending hours sitting at your desk can also take a toll on your back and posture. Take moments to gently stretch your back, neck and hamstrings. You can incorporate some light neck and shoulder rolls into your breaks, take time to touch your toes every now and then, or even end the day with a gentle yin yoga sequence.
9. Eat healthy
Stock your home with healthy snacks to munch on. Need more wholesome recipe inspiration? You’ll find it here.
10. Remember to breathe
Breath is one of the most automatic things we do – but also one of the most important. Beyond simply keeping you alive, your breathing works around the clock to keep you feeling calm and centred.
If you’re feeling anxious or distracted, try box breathing. Inhale deeply for a count of four, hold your breath for four, exhale for four, and hold your breath again for four. Repeat 3-5 time until your mind is at ease. Spirits feeling a little low? Try this energising breathing routine.
11. Get creative
Take this time to exercise your out-of-the-box thinking. Do you love drawing? Leave a sketchbook and pencils by the spot you take your breaks to encourage you not to look at screens. The same goes for that guitar you keep meaning to play. Journaling, crafts, or even baking can tap into the same creative place in your brain.
We know, you’ve heard it a million times. But beyond its obvious physical perks, exercise really is a vital tool in keeping your spirits up. Make time for it every day, whether you wake up with an easy stretch routine, make time for push-ups during your breaks, or finish off with Pilates.
13. Make time for meditation
Meditation has endless benefits: it can calm you, give you purpose and help bring clarity to challenges you are facing. Taking even five minutes to meditate every day can work wonders.
14. Indulge yourself
One of the benefits of being at home is that nobody (except your loved ones or roommates) has to see you during the day. Make the most of this by repurposing your home time as a time for some luxurious pampering. Have a couple hours without any conference calls? Take this time to do a sheet mask. Feeling a little sore? Treat yourself to some self-massage. Whatever at-home wellness means to you, now is the time to try it out.
15. Pack up at the end of the day.
It’s important to set firm boundaries between work time and personal time. At the end of every day, pack things up to send your mind a clear signal that your workday is over. Put your laptop away, tidy up your papers – you’re off the clock!
And a bonus: Reward yourself
Working at home shouldn’t feel like a chore. Mark the end of your workday with something that makes you feel like you’ve been productive. It can be some energizing exercise, a call with loved ones, or a bath. Now turn off your laptop and go relax. You’ve earned it.