I’ve been working from home exclusively for about 4 years now, so I’m not going to write this coming at it from what I do now but how I transitioned into working from an office environment to our home. If you are finding yourself feeling lost in your own home, let me help you! Figuring out how to work from home is not impossible, it just takes some routine, guidelines, flexibility and time. My best tips below!
Side note: I am also writing this post very generally and broad. If you are working from home with young kids, toddlers or babies, then this is the post for you! I will have a working with your spouse post later this week.
Create a New Schedule
I found that I was most successful with my WFH routine when I created a new one. Your working in an office routine to now probably looks a lot different so trying to fit a square peg into a round hole will give you more issues than you need right now. If you are used to waking up early and getting to the office early, keep that momentum, but if you are finding that you aren’t as clear minded or focused early in the morning, then give yourself some room. You are a human, not a machine. Find what flow works best for you. Also, set new work times for yourself. You may be able to get through your work quicker than you can at the office. Respect this and set a new work day for yourself if you can. If you can get your work done between the hours of 9-3, then let that be your work day.
This is a very important tip. I know right now we are all sharing hilarious memes of day pajamas to night pajamas but I promise you it starts to get old after a while. Your brain is all about connections and there is something about getting dressed in work clothes that creates a work connection in your brain. If I spend all day in my sweats or pajamas, I’m less productive. I find myself not wanting to work but watch something or I just can’t get focused. Same with putting on yoga pants or workout clothes — I may be comfortable but it’s not necessarily my best work.
If you are looking to continue to get dressed for work, try with basic pieces that are comfortable but still feel like work. I like these comfort stretch trousers from White House Black Market — they are super comfortable but I felt ‘dressed up’ for work. Find my trousers in many colors here!
And instead of keeping the tee I sleep in on, putting on an actual blouse makes me feel ready to be productive. This goes for those of you who need to have conference calls or ‘waist up’ connections like Zoom. Tossing on a soft blazer and a silk blouse with a comfortable pair of pants gives you a pulled together look and you are still 100% comfortable. Find my blouse here!
Find this blazer here! It’s perfect for tossing on when you need a waist up professional look!
Mind ‘Commute’ Times
One thing I noticed when I started working from home was that I became hyper intent on spending 8 solid hours behind my computer. I would work through lunch at my desk, never take breaks and by the end of the week I was OVER IT. Why? Because that’s not what we do when we work in an office. First we have a commute to the office — I would listen to music, get a coffee, maybe even talk to myself or daydream. When WFH the commute is from my bedroom to the office so no need to strike up a playlist or let my mind wander off, right? And then think about when you first get to the office — does it take a second for you to get started and your computer turned on and started? Do you check in with co-workers or have a quick meeting? Perhaps do this at your desk — check your email and make a to-do list for the day while listening to a podcast or a playlist. Ease into your day instead of expecting your brain to show up for that 8 am meeting right away.
This is a continuation of the above paragraph — your brain needs breaks. You need breaks. Get up and walk around inside (or outside if you can!). Text a friend or call someone. Give yourself a 15 minute break every hour or two and you will feel more productive, I promise. And if you are working on a problem and can’t find the solution, get up and walk away from it. Usually the answer is there when you get back. Brain breaks are important, be kind to your mind.
Create Your Own Office Space
Not everyone has a dedicated office in their homes and if that’s the case, remember you don’t need a huge space to create an organized and isolated space. It may be the end of your dining room or kitchen table. Or a small space in your room that you’re able to use just for work. I would suggest using a desk / table as much as possible instead of working from your couch or bed. Not only will you focus better, but when you finally break for the day and sit on your couch it will feel like a reward.
Make sure space is organized and clean. You want to be able to clear as much out of your desk or working space so that you can focus on getting things done. Make that connection in your brain that this is where you work and it will help you focus. On the flip side, try to keep your laptop or computer only in this space. Let work stay where work lives. Also, invest in some headphones if you have noisy roommates, spouse or kids. Music or podcasts can really help.
Ignore The Projects + Chores
The reason I stress so much about having a space for yourself that feels like a work space is because if you work in the middle of your house, your living room, your bedroom, everything starts to feel like it needs to get done. That laundry basket starts calling your name. The remote is whispering sweet nothings in your ear. And did you know it’s ALWAYS happy hour inside your fridge? Look — there is always going to be something to do inside your house. There Is always laundry to be done, a floor to be swept, a project to be completed. But allow those things to be done after your work hours.
Have Your Own Happy Hour
This is the most fun rule. At the end of my work or work day I still like to have a happy hour. B and I used to grab a drink with our employees and friends after work almost daily (ah, our 20s how fun we were) and I like to still have a ‘happy hour’ of some sort. Now it looks a little different with a toddler — it usually involves a walk as a family or watching playing out in the backyard while I drink a glass of wine. But if you were used to interacting with co-workers after work, don’t stop now! Change into something cute or fancy, FaceTime or Zoom them, grab a drink and chit chat away! I promise having a celebration to the end of the day is the best.
I know it feels weird right now but changing your outfit for happy hour or for dinner or a ‘date’ actually is a lot of fun. It feels like dress up and it can change a mood quickly. I put this dress on the other afternoon and my mood instantly lifted. The glass of wine didn’t hurt either. 😉
This dress is perfect for work events later this spring or summer! Isn’ it so pretty? It’s from WHBM, as well! The fit is perfect!
Seriously, try getting ‘dressed up’ this evening for a happy hour or just a change of pace. It will feel silly but nice.
Leave Your Phone Alone
I suggest for the first week or so placing your phone on a chair away from you, face down. That way if you want to look at it you have to GET UP and go get it. It will serve less as a distraction if it’s not constantly going off at you. If you don’t want it across the room from you, then at least put it face down on your desk. The alerts alone will drive you crazy after a while. And if you find yourself wanting to take a break, then by all means pick up your phone! But scroll your phone away from your work space, just so that your workspace stays sacred to work.
Give Yourself Grace
Working from home isn’t for everyone and hopefully not for forever. So give yourself some grace with all of this. It may take some time to adjust, so be patient and give it time!
*This post is in collaboration with one of my favorite retailers for workwear, White House Black Market. Right now they have 40% off some styles, so it’s a nice time to grab a few essentials for work!