As someone who’s worked from home for years, I can say it’s been one of the best career decisions I’ve ever made. But finding work/life balance, when those two activities exist in the same space, hasn’t always been easy. It’s taken time to find my groove. While achieving this balance is a constant work in progress (I’ll probably read this article back to myself in the next few weeks), I hope these tips will be helpful as we find ourselves in a new reality, where WFH is the new normal for many.
Find the times when you’re the most productive.
While many might advise adhering to your usual office schedule, I’ve found that, first and foremost, it is important to identify a time when YOU are most productive. For me, I found it was between 5-7 am. It might sound extreme, but because there were no distractions whatsoever, I was able to finish a big chunk of my work first thing in the morning. This was a bit detrimental to my social life as I was falling asleep by 8:30 pm, but in times of self-isolation, that excuse seems to fade farther and farther away.
Make a game plan.
Some people block out times in their calendar. Some have a handwritten journal. Mapping out what you’ll do at every hour of the day will be helpful to making sure you get it done. I always think of it as a school schedule - I include breaks, when I’ll be walking the dog, or when I’ll be cooking. Apart from making sure I’m on track, there’s absolutely nothing more satisfying than crossing out tasks on a to-do list and knowing I’m keeping up a good pace.
Wear your best outfit
Just like you would to an important meeting. Depending on deadlines and work plans for the day, I dress accordingly. But I always dress my best. As luxurious as it sounds to lounge around in sweatpants all day, it really is harmful to my productivity. When I really want to get things done, I wear my lucky shirt and put on my favorite shoes. It may feel unnatural at first to wear shoes at home, but it really gives a sense that you’re going somewhere with work. If I’m all dressed up, I might as well be ready to go ( and get things done).
If you’re procrastinating… just do something else.
If you’re not feeling it, simply focus on whatever it is that is distracting you. Don’t stare at your screen waiting for inspiration to strike. Go watch that show (just ONE episode) or do those dishes that are peeking at you from the kitchen. Once that *thing* is out of the way, you’ll be able to come back with renewed energy and focus.
Organize your workspace.
If you’re working from your kitchen table, make sure to clear off your temporary desk at the end of the day. If you have a desk - all the better! It’s important to allocate a space to work, so you can feel like you are ‘walking to work’ even if it’s just a few steps. When you set it up, make sure you’re sitting in the ideal sitting position. With fewer people around to distract you for a coffee break, you’re bound to sit for longer hours, and making sure you’re doing it in good posture is good practice.
Use a stopwatch (and set an IG timer too.)
This will help you keep track of the hours you’re working, and times when you’re not. This makes you feel like “someone’s watching” and provides accountability. Set a timer on your IG consumption too, as when I’m alone I tend to scroll way more often, and way longer than I should.
Find a work buddy.
If one of your friends is also working from home, decide on a time to start working together (even if it’s remotely) - then decide on times when you can take a break and catch up. I do this often in-person. Knowing you’re not alone (and you’re not these days) serves as a big motivation to keep pushing forward.
Make yourself a nice meal (and listen to a podcast while at it!)
Cooking for myself (especially from scratch) often feels like the ultimate form of self-care. It’s also a nice way to take a break from being in front of the screen. There’s something so pride-inducing about assembling a pretty plate, just for your own enjoyment (and who am I kidding, that of your IG friends too). While you’re at it, consider listening to a podcast that is related to your work or business. One of my favorites is How I Built This with Guy Raz - it makes me feel like my time is not “wasted” if I’m still learning while being in the kitchen.
Inspired to get cooking? Consider mixing in some of these 6 foods you didn’t know were good for your skin.
Fold your laundry when you’re on a conference call.
If your call doesn’t require you to be in front of the computer, now is the time to catch up on house chores that aren’t demanding or noisy.
Even when not on lockdown, I exercise with a trainer via online classes. This gives me a schedule to adhere to, and absolutely no excuses. I am not ‘wasting’ time by commuting to the gym. If you don’t have an exercise routine, make sure to get up from your desk at least once an hour. You can add a notification or timer as a reminder (see point #6).
If you’re working from home, you may find yourself completing tasks faster than if you were at the office. Enjoy it! Finish early and move on to the ‘leisure’ part of your day. If you run out of shows to watch on Netflix, this is the perfect time to learn a new skill or tackle anything that’s been on your bucket list.
If you’re working on a particularly daunting task, reward yourself when you’ve finally finished it. That reward can be anything from FaceTiming your bestie, to your fave uplifting 20 min show, to doing a DIY face mask. Check out a beginner’s guide to masking for inspiration.