Ahh the work from home life. So glamorous, so desired. Lemme go ahead and draw back that idealistic curtain and show you the reality. Picture this: I am sitting at my kitchen table lookin’ like a straight beast in yesterday’s yoga pants while my cat paws at me to pay attention to him as I type. I haven’t spoken to a human in 8 hours and my hair is 98% dry shampoo at this point. Chic, no?
On the flip side, yes, it truly is a privilege to be in said yoga pants and not have to brave the elements or sit in traffic before starting my work day. I am totally grateful for the flexibility in my schedule and do find myself more productive without so much office chit chat and am about 5 lbs smaller due to less office birthday doughnuts. I also really miss birthday doughnuts. Okay where was I? The big question: How do you work from home productively? How to you maintain sanity being alone all day? Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way.
1.) Stick to a schedule
Before I moved to L.A., my work day looked like this:
- Wake up at 6:30am
- Out the door by 7, commute to work and arrive around 8:45 (yes, long as hell)
- Work 9-4:45 in the office, then do the 1.5 hour commute home
- 6:30 to 11:30: Gym (lol), eat, two glasses of red, zone out in front of the couch
- Repeat Monday-Friday
Sound familiar? My routine was figured out to the last second (“If I sleep for 30 seconds longer I can just do my mascara on the train!”) and every day had a familiar rhythm. This was both comforting and monotonous. When my husband got the opportunity to take a promotion in L.A. we jumped at the chance. Luckily my office job allowed me to keep my position and work remotely in California. But without my iron clad schedule, what would my days look like? At first it felt super freeing, but then almost…overwhelming. Being alone with your thoughts all day and without someone keeping tabs on you can feel a bit like free falling. That’s why it’s so important to get up at the time and plan out each day in time blocks. This keeps you accountable and provides the structure that Type A people like myself desperately crave. Which leads me to #2:
2.) Planners are your friend
I’ve always loved the idea of cute planners but it wasn’t until I started working from home that they became absolutely necessary (this is my current fav, it even has stickers which makes my inner Lisa Frank fan SO happy). Now every Sunday I sit down, look at the week, and prioritize my task list. Typically I’ll use three groups: Things that need to be done for my day job, things that need to be done for Perfête and things that need to be done around the house.
If you’re next level like me, I’ll break down the tasks in each category and assign time limits to each so that I can mentally block out what the day will look like. One of the great advantages of working from home is choosing the times for tasks based on when your brain will be the most receptive. For example, I’m the most creative and do my best writing first thing in the morning. If I wait til the afternoon, it will be rushed and sloppy. On the other hand, I’m best at budgeting and task-like work in the afternoons after I’ve eaten and do my best brainstorming in the evenings. Pay attention to when you’re creating your best work and plan accordingly.
3.) Get dressed
I know. Why bother? Isn’t that the point, the fact that you can just look like a slob all day? Now I’m not saying you need to contour, do a cut crease and rock heels at home (I mean, do you, but that sounds like a nightmare to me). But wash your face, brush your hair, put on your nice yoga pants and greet the day. It really makes a difference for me when I sit down to work and puts me in the zone. Also, you never know when that WebEx is going to turn into a camera facing call, and what could be worse that showing your boss that weird stained tee shirt that you won’t get rid of cause it’s so soft?
4.) Get out of the damn house
SO IMPORTANT. If I had to pick one thing on this list that is the absolute key to success it’s this. It might sound counterproductive (aren’t you supposed to be working Brianna?) but there are so many reasons this is critical. First, fresh air and sunshine are key to my mental health. And I can’t work effectively if I’m sitting at the same spot in my troll cave all day (too much?). When you work from home your social interaction decreases dramatically so it’s important to get out in the world a bit. And then when my husband comes home from work I’m less intense with my greeting (think golden retriever puppy jumping up and down excited for attention as soon as he walks in).
A few ways to do this:
- Take a lunch time walk. After I eat I go for a 30 minute walk and listen to a podcast. This refreshes me so when I come back to the computer I’m ready for my next task. Sometimes my best ideas come when I’m walking. I think when you allow your brain to float, answers come more naturally.
- Bring your laptop to your local coffee shop. I love Le Pain Quotidien down the street. When I’m having writers block or procrastinating I’ll grab my computer and go across the street to knock it out. Rewarding yourself with a latte or avocado toast is a good trick. Also: human interaction.
- Look into a shared workspace. These are popping up all over! Even if it’s just one day a week, bringing a little of that office workspace vibe into your life can be super motivating. Plus, opportunity to make new friends!
5.) Create a designated workspace
I know, I told you I was currently writing this from my kitchen table (busted). But having a designated workspace is key to productivity. #1 rule: you are not allowed to work from your bed. Once you start this, it will be hard to stop. You bed is for two things: sleep and sex. Keep work out of it. if you’re in a small apartment (hi!) you can still make it work. I bought this cute desk from Crate and Barrel and it takes up almost no space and looks super cute. Get yourself some pretty stationary and a plant or two to keep it green. A bright, clean workspace leads to a calm vibe which leads to a more productive day.
What are your tips for working from home?