Do you know that mental association you make between work and an office? Well, I like to instill a similar mentality when working from home. Doing the things I do when preparing for a day at the office like setting my alarm, getting dressed, and grabbing a cup of tea helps me with consistency when working remotely.
In the past when I veered off of my routine, I noticed the new freedom of structure reduces my overall productivity. Without a routine, I become unfocused, easily distracted, and all over the place.
Over the years, I have learned what works for me and what doesn’t. When I created my routine it was important for me to pay attention to not only how I spend my time, but when I spend it as the sequence matters. Here’s how I stay productive when working from home.
Maintain My Regular ‘Wake Up’ Time
When working from home I wake at the same time as if I was going into the office. This keeps my daily routine consistent and ensures I have enough time to get everything done.
Do a Morning Workout
Whether it’s yoga, a spin class, or an at-home Pilates session I make it a point to sweat it out in the morning. Regardless of where I am working, working out in the morning is non-negotiable. Over the years I have learned that if I don’t do it in the morning, it will more than likely not happen.
I have really been committed to living and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Earlier this year I set a goal for myself to work out a minimum of 5 days per week consisting of 3-4 cardio sessions and 3-4 low-impact flexibility and muscular strengthening session (Pilates, Barre, or Yoga). Yes, some days I do both.
Take a Shower and Get Ready
When I dress sluggish, I feel sluggish and my productivity takes a major hit. I’m not saying I dress up in business attire while working from home…because I definitely don’t. However, after I complete my morning workout I, of course, take a shower, put on a little makeup (usually a tinted moisturize and mascara), and get dressed. Even if it’s just a basic tee and comfy leggings, I am happier when I feel put together!
I don’t know about you but I enjoy my 10-minute morning breather, 11:00 am lunch, and my 2:30 “teatime”. Call me crazy, but my brain starts hurting and my thoughts start to become a jumbled mess if I don’t take short pauses throughout the day. To avoid burnout, I typically plan 2-3 short breaks to help bring calmness and clarity to my mind and body. During these breaks, I usually make a cup of tea (my favorite is the Marsala Chai Tea from Peet’s Coffee) and listen to an energetic playlist or motivating podcast.
Since I know these scheduled breaks are often what I look forward to most, I like to view them as daily rewards. I simply avoid having a cup of tea or a snack until I have “earned” my morning or afternoon break by completing my scheduled tasks. Mentally viewing my breaks as incentives allows me to stay focused, have structure, and be more productive in between.
Get Out of the House
By the third day of working from home, I start to feel cabin fever setting in and I knew it was time for me to venture out. This could be a short 30-minute walk around the neighborhood, deciding to work from a local coffee shop for the day, or enjoying lunch at my favorite restaurant (social-distancing style of course). By switching up my surroundings I started to feel my energy levels rise and I instantly became more productive and motivated.
Separating work and “home” can become tricky when working from home so it’s important to create an end of day routine that helps you differentiate between the two. When it’s my “closing time”, I resist the urge to just “squeeze in a few more minutes” of work. What I don’t finish I make sure it’s the first thing I complete the next morning. Once my work laptop is closed it’s time to “shut it down” and I do not think about work until the next morning.