Tips For Working From Home

I have been working mostly from home for the last 8 or so months, and while I used to think it was the dream, there have been times where it has been an everyday nightmare.  I won’t deny that there are perks but still, it does take lots of restraint, focus and, well, work.  The urge to stay in bed and daydream that I’m Macklemore is hard to resist.  Like, hard to resist.  I just want to be as cool as him so bad.  Le sigh (a perfect example of how I am NOT as cool as him).

The dangerous part of working from home is the fact that I get into a rut.  And when I get into a rut, I get depressed.  And when I get depressed I unravel.  The first three or so months of working from home were trying to find that balance of being happy, keeping it together and getting shit done.  You know….working.  But from home.  Here are my tips and truths to know about what it is like to work from home, keep it together while still going to bed feeling like a #girlboss.

MAKE AN EFFORT TO LOOK NICE AND GET READY IN THE MORNING

Working in your comfy yoga pants, or no pants at all feel great. Eventually, you get into the routine of just putting on what you're comfortable in.  And sometimes, you can start to feel uncomfortable in your comfortable clothes.  I think it’s good for your soul to put that extra effort into your morning routine.  Put on your favorite blouse and cute shoes that match.  So what no one else will see that you decided to wear mascara today?  You see that you're wearing mascara.  And it's your favorite mascara, the kind that makes your eyelashes look so long and beautiful and you did drive all the way to Sephora to pick it up so why let it sit?  Because no one but you will see it?  So what? Do it for you.  Feel pretty for you.  And maybe put the yoga pants back on after your 1 pm call.

TRACK YOUR STEPS

Our phones track how much we walk.  Our watches track how much we walk. The worm people know how much we walk (and how many of their brothers we’ve accidentally stepped on).  It’s almost hard not to track your steps these days and even if you’re not doing it to lead that fitness driven lifestyle, do it to make sure you're moving.  I bet if you forget to make sure you're up and about moving around, you'll see that your walking numbers are low.  Like scary low.  Like, did the potato in my cabinet move more than me today?  I like to set goals for myself and make sure I am getting the steps on my Fitbit so I can see and mentally register that I did move around and walk.  I didn’t just sit in front of a computer screen and slowly turned to stone.  Which brings me to my next tip….

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GET A HOBBY OUTSIDE OF THE HOUSE

I know it sounds like I am trying to push you away from your house which is the exact opposite of why you wanted to work from home but believe, me you will need it.  My hobby is reselling vintage clothing.  Every once and awhile I will head out into the world, and track down some fresh vintage finds to list into my Etsy store.  Even if it is for a couple of hours every week, I love it, and it gets me out of my house and puts me in an entirely different head space when I get home.  I'm more relaxed. I'm excited to work on something in my house that doesn't focus on my actual work or chores, and I love it.  Find something that you love and takes you away from the pressures of your remote job and brings you to a place you just love, even if it's within yourself.

GO FOR WALK

It doesn't have to be a hike or a cardio themed hell path.  Just go outside and go for a walk.  Get fresh air.  Walk to the nearest coffee shop by you and grab a cup of joe and just enjoy being OUTSIDE.  Away from your desk.  Where the air is relatively fresh depending on what city you live in and the light you're exposed to comes from the sun rather than an energy efficient 60 watt light bulb.  Don't forget the sunscreen.

I know it sounds like I am trying to push you away from your house which is the exact opposite of why you wanted to work from home but believe, me you will need it.  My hobby is reselling vintage clothing.  Every once and awhile I will head out into the world, and track down some fresh vintage finds to list into my Etsy store.  Even if it is for a couple of hours every week, I love it, and it gets me out of my house and puts me in an entirely different head space when I get home.  I'm more relaxed. I'm excited to work on something in my house that doesn't focus on my actual work or chores, and I love it.  Find something that you love and takes you away from the pressures of your remote job and brings you to a place you just love, even if it's within yourself.

SCHEDULE YOUR DAYS OUT

This one is huge.  If you leave your days open, then you start to dedicate too much time to the wrong thing and start to ignore the other things that you need to be doing (like chores or exercise).  I am obsessed and live off of my Google Calendar.  Without it, I focus too much on the wrong thing, push homework assignments off until the last minute and eat at odd times. With it, I am up at a certain time to make sure that I get some exercise into my schedule, I know what my social media plan of attack is, and I am doing my homework assignments spread out through the week, so I don't feel overwhelmed with tasks. My current schedule is mirrored from times when I worked in an office, and I do believe it is the glue that keeps my productivity and efficiency together.  

TO DO LISTS ARE YOUR FRIEND

I am a firm believer in the power of a to-do list.  I love them and have a million of them, using Wunderlist as my go to app.  By boyfriend swears by Trello.  My mentor worked in Basecamp, setting up every project as a trackable to-do.  To-do lists are constant reminders that are staring you in the face, and they won't go away unless you uncheck them.  My Father, who has worked for himself and from home a majority of my life, taught me the importance of to-do lists at an early age.  To me, to-do lists aren't just a suggestion; they are a requirement to be productive while working from home.

FIND A HEALTHY BALANCE FOR NAPPING

This one is surprisingly a big problem in my work from home community.  I have plenty of friends who work from home, and I think a quick habit to form is napping...A LOT.  Even I am guilty of this.  There have been days and periods where I just can't resist my soft, warm bed and want to lay down.  The siren's call of a nap can be too resist hard at times, and I think the important rule to live by with working from home and napping is: make sure you're getting your shit down.  Naps, in my opinions, are reserved for the sick and those who deserve rewarding.  Unless you're running a high fever or dealing with some form of ailment, naps are treats.  I've lied to myself and told myself the "well I will just stay up late and work" but that usually falls flat.  Unless you are sick or extremely exhausted, save the nap for the time you're ahead of schedule, and there isn't a task that needs your immediate attention.

KEEP YOUR WORK SPACE CLEAN

Clear space, clearer mind.  If you were in an office setting, would you let your space get so messy that your manager had to pull you aside and ask you to tidy up?  I understand, it can be hard.  Some people are naturally untidy.  I am one of them.  It has taken the KonMari method to get me in a place where my house is usually neat and tidy and if it isn't, it usually doesn't take more than 30 minutes to do a general sweep and put it back in order.   Take a day to really deep clean your home work space.  I mean, REALLY clean.  Get rid of the papers you aren't using, invest in some organizational cubbies if need be but really get in there and set up your dream office.  Once you have done that, take 15 minutes at the end of your day to put back the things you have left out.  You will feel better about having a tidy work space, not be distracted by clutter and work towards building a good habit.  If you are really organizationally challenged, I recommend Marie Kondo's book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up." It has helped me immensely.

DON'T BE TOO HARD (OR TOO EASY) ON YOURSELF

It can be a balancing act between the two.  There are days where I just push, push, push myself to the brink of an anxiety attack which usually can lead me to be over indulgent in taking it too easy.  You need to press the negative thoughts out of your head and not let them effect you to the point of not being able to function.  Verily, you also need to be able to push yourself to get stuff done.  It is easy to get distracted in your home because it's filled with all of your cool stuff and usually there isn't anyone there to tell you to stop checking Facebook but yourself and this post (stop checking Facebook).  You have to find that place in your head where you can be efficient but also not think that everyone thinks you're stupid and that's why it's best that you work from home because they don't.  And if they do believe that you are stupid then they probably don't know you very well.

TRY IT AND IF IT'S NOT FOR YOU, MOVE ON

The truth is, working from home is usually very isolated.  You have to make an effort to get your social time, exercise and all the perks of working in an office in.  When I used to work in an office, it was right across the street from a huge park. I would use my lunches to go for walks or walk to go out to dinner.  I dealt with people all day, so when I got home, I was ready to unplug. It was easier to leave my work at work because I was leaving my job.  When you work from home, you feel as if there is no excuse not to work because you can not escape it.  If working from home is something that appeals to you then you should try it, but if it isn't for you, there is no shame in going back to looking for a job in a setting outside of your home.  Whatever you do, do it for you with your best interest at heart.