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I’ve been working remotely from home for over a year, and it’s no easy feat. While working from home allows freedom and flexibility, it’s also a really easy way to step out of routine and cause one to become less productive. I have, however, picked up on some tips for working from home that can help create the most ideal WFH situation—one that’s both enjoyable and productive at the same time. There’s nothing quite like setting your own rules and schedule (up to a point), but you also have to actually follow them. While it can be challenging at first—especially if you’re not used to working at home—finding the balance between work and relaxation at home is worth the effort.
Everyone is different, but there are some general guidelines to creating a focused (and fun!) work environment at home. Things I suggest might not work exactly right for you—and that’s fine. Figuring out the ideal way to work from home, stay cozy and finish everything you need to get done isn’t something that happens in one day. Try different routines to see what the perfect plan is for you. (And also please wash your hands, thanks!)
1. Keep a Normal Sleep Schedule
It can be tempting to stay up late and sleep in (if you don’t have to be online at a certain time, of course) when you’re working from home. Making sure you go to bed at your usual time can help make things feel a bit more normal—and you’re likely to be more productive staying in your routine.
2. Don’t Start From Bed
Working where you sleep can mess with your brain’s ability to know when it’s chill time and when it’s time to be productive. After your alarm goes off, get up, brush your teeth and make your bed. Treat your mornings the same way you would if you were headed into the office.
3. Get! Dressed!
I cannot emphasize this enough. As someone who works from home, I understand the temptation to stay in your pajamas all day. However, you’ll be far less productive if you’re dressed for a day of sitting in bed watching Netflix. At the very least, throw on some cute leggings and a pullover sweater. Dress like you’re meeting a friend for coffee—even if you aren’t.
4. Find an Enjoyable Space to Work
If you have a desk in your home, that’s the best place to set up your workspace. If not, find a place where you can separate your work from your TV time. Don’t forget to have a little fun with it, though! Treat this workspace like you would an office cubicle and make it your own.
5. Create Boundaries With Your Partner or Roommates
If your partner or roommate(s) are also working from home, make sure you create some boundaries. It can be easy to start hanging out instead of working, depending on how demanding your jobs are. Or, if one of you has a call or meeting to log onto, make sure you have some designated space for silence. Having these boundaries will keep you from bumping elbows and causing unnecessary tension while you’re at home.
6. Set Goals & Reward Yourself
After working remotely for over a year now, I’ve realized how important setting goals and rewarding myself for completing them can be. When you work from home, you don’t have a normal schedule throughout the day. If you create goals and rewards for yourself—like finishing a certain number of projects before lunch or treating yourself to a snack after you finish answering emails—it can help motivate you even when you’re not in an office.
7. Take an Actual Lunch Break
Some people don’t even take lunch breaks when they’re at the office, and much less so when they’re at home. However, if you set aside 30 minutes to an hour for yourself to step away from your work and eat a meal, you’ll give yourself some much-needed rest.
8. Find Time for Movement
Being cooped up in your home all day can make you feel sluggish or antsy. Every few hours, make sure you stand up and take a little walk, stretch and drink some water. Get that blood flowing back to your brain, baby.
9. Talk With Friends or Family Throughout the Day
As my roommate will confirm, I can go a little crazy if I don’t have people to talk to throughout the day. Although chatting through Slack or other online communication apps is helpful, it’s much more important to talk to people in person or on the phone. My mom gets a lot of calls during the week because of this, but it’s incredibly helpful when you’re cooped up inside.
10. Get Out of the House—If You’re Able
Depending on the situation, sometimes you can’t leave your house or apartment. If it’s possible, though, working with a friend or going to a coffee shop can do wonders for your mental health. I spend most of my money in coffee shops so I’m not stuck at home all the time. Obviously this isn’t always feasible, but take those opportunities when they come.
11. Set a Hard-Out
Often when working from home, I’ll find myself working on miscellaneous things throughout the evening. It’s easy to go back to projects and tinker with things when you really should be resting. Set a time to officially stop working (if your job doesn’t give you an exact time) and just relax or hang out with friends. There’s no need to spend every hour of the day staring at your computer.