While working from home has amazing perks — your freedom being the main asset — it can be really challenging to get in the groove of things, especially if you are just starting out.
How can you be more productive while working remote? Keeping a routine is central to accomplishing your work effectively and on time.
Depending on the type of work you do, whether it’s running a business, kicking off a startup venture or working in a creative field like writing or design, my guess is everyone has a schedule they need to adhere to.
And if you think having a routine contradicts your work-from-home lifestyle, it doesn’t. It enhances it, big time. When you stick to a routine the same way you would as if you were headed into an office every day, your to-do list will feel like a breeze instead of a scrambled mess.
Here are my top 9 work-from-home tips for remote workers looking to take their so-so workdays to a consistently successful work-from-home lifestyle.
Wake Up Early, Every Day
Set your alarm for the same time every morning, and get up the first time it goes off. If you’re an early bird who works best in the quiet, wee hours of the morning (somewhere between 3:45-5 am), this is prime time for getting your most dreaded or time-consuming task of the day completed before the sun comes up.
If that sounds too brutal and somewhere between 6-8 am is more your style, that’s completely fine. The point is to get in the habit of waking up at the same time, on time, every day you need to get work done. Doing this preps your mind that you are up and ready to tackle the day.
Get Ready, Every Day
When you look good, everything else falls into place. You feel good and you perform better.
Although, to say I haven’t stayed in my pajamas and worked an entire day in them wouldn’t be true. We have to take advantage of that reality when working from home from time to time, right?
Those are what I refer to “exception days,” where you’re lagging more than normal from a long weekend spent with friends or travel. On the other (majority of WFH) days, getting yourself ready is crucial to staying on your A-game. And honestly, leggings, a nice tee shirt and some minimal makeup counts as “getting ready,” and it does the trick pretty well.
But on days where I have interviews to conduct or need to stay focused on long conference calls, I’ll get dressed up the way I would if I were giving an in-person presentation. This oten looks like a blazer, jeans, heels and lipstick.
Work Out, Every Day
I may be a slight fitness addict, but in a good way. Working out relieves stress, redirects your mind to a positive place and keeps you energized and feeling great long after your workout.
On days where it seems next to impossible to fit in a workout (going to cycle class multiple times a week is a time-consuming commitment), I’ll do a quick 10-15 minute HITT workout outside or in my living room. I’m a big proponent of getting your heart rate up and breaking a sweat every single day, even if that’s doing jumping jacks for five minutes in your bedroom.
Many people swear that working out in the middle of the day is the best time to do it, but really anytime you can and feel like it will work. So long as you actually do it!
Have Healthy Snacks on Hand, Always
When you’re working from home, it’s tempting to take one too many breaks to snack a bit. You should be snacking throughout the day, and often, to keep your mind sharp and your body happy, but they have to be healthy snacks.
Here’s what snacking looks like for me: My 2-3 cups of coffee in the mornings usually get me by for a few hours until I start getting hungry. I will have a yogurt/granola bowl mid-morning or around lunchtime (plain Greek yogurt with organic, gluten-free granola and coconut clusters, chia seeds and flaxseed, topped with blueberries and a drizzle of honey). When I need a brain break and get hungry a few hours after that, I will mash up an avocado and use it as a pretzel dip.
Having grabbable snacks is the key to this one because it saves a lot of time. One of my favorites is protein bites in the fridge (rolled oats, peanut butter, dark chocolate, bananas). Some great options to keep in your pantry are almonds, cranberries and Larabars.
Create An Office Space
Whether you have a home office or not doesn’t really matter. As long as you have a dedicated space that’s clean, organized and equipped with your work essentials is all you need to stay focused and on-task.
I use various spots in my home (home-office, kitchen table and outdoor patio) because I get stir crazy easily, so switching around a bit (for me) makes a big difference in keeping my creativity at peak.
But again, the key here is to have a space or two in your house that makes you feel efficient.
Work Out of a Different Space One Day A Week
This one looks a little different for everybody, but I find it extremely helpful to work a few days out of the week from a coffee shop or co-working space. Different spaces provide inspiration that my home isn’t able to.
I gain more energy, motivation and creativity being around different types of people, sounds and places throughout the week because that’s what works for me, as a writer. For someone working in tech, accounting or something a little more rigid, staying in one spot might work better.
Schedule In-Person Meetings and Lunches
If you work remote, you know how lonely it can get. Sometimes your only interaction with other humans is with the barista or fellow train/subway/bus riders. Getting out into the fresh air is crucial for staying sane when you’re holed up all day, but what really makes a difference in your happiness levels is face-to-face communication with people.
Schedule in-person meetings if you can instead of having them over the phone or skype. I conduct 100 percent of my business freelance and work with clients all over the United States, which means in-person meetings aren’t possible for me. So what I do in place of that is schedule lunches with friends. You’re going to be taking snack and lunch breaks anyways — why not do it with a friend? Just remember to keep it semi short (no longer than an hour) and hold yourself accountable for an end time.
Make Room In Your Calendar For One Social Outing Per Week
In addition to meeting up with colleagues or friends once a week for meetings/lunches, you should also schedule one social outing or activity every week. This really helps with the isolation factor of working remote, and it’s healthy to mix in some fun every week to keep your life balanced.
It doesn’t have to be extraordinary or adventurous — just something you can enjoy for a few hours with other people.
Go on a bike ride with your spouse, take your kids to a park and share a picnic dinner, or meet up with friends for cocktails.
This one is really important as it gives you something to look forward to as you’re pushing through your workload.
Check In With Yourself At The End of The Day
Sit down at the end of the workday and take 10 minutes to review what you accomplished that day. Are you proud of what you got done? Or do you feel like you procrastinated too much and could have checked more off your list?
If you feel good about the amount of things you completed, you did everything right. If you don’t, you got off track somewhere. Figure out your unproductive habits and correct them. This will allow you to stay ahead of schedule and will make you feel amazing by day’s end.
Pro tip: Unless you work in social media, delete your social media apps a few days out of the week, or even the entire week, so you aren’t tempted to check your notifications. We are so used to scrolling through Instagram and checking our other feeds that we don’t even realize how often we do it, and it’s a huge time-suck that does nothing to enhance our minds.
Social media apps should be treated like candy — Indulge every so often, not every day.