When I started working from home 7 years ago, it was a strange shift. I’d been working in professional office environments for nearly 8 years and working from home had always felt like a dream.
No commute? No required wardrobe? Snacking anytime? You learn very quickly that working from home isn’t exactly as you imagine it to be. Specifically, you really have to begin setting boundaries and adding structure to your day. Otherwise, you may feel like you’re working 24-7.
With freedom comes decisions and you must execute your time wisely or the day may totally get away from you. For example, you can plop on the couch with your laptop and turn on Netflix, but can you really get quality work done that way? Here are a few tips for how to work from home with success.
- Start the day off right. Before I had children, I would nearly always get up early and head to the gym. This helped me get moving and remove that “task” from my daily list. It gave me energy and a specific marker for the day. Now I start the day with devotions and coffee!
- Designate a working spot. If you can have an office, that is fabulous! For a few years, I had my own office room, but after children, I was moved to the kitchen table. This is not ideal, but you can make it work. I always shut down my computer and pack away notebooks, pens, and accessories when the workday ends.
- Take a lunch break. It can be easy to skip lunch or munch all day while working from home. I recommend always taking lunch at a specific time. It helps your day feel structured and honestly, you need breaks! In an office, breaks are built in with meetings, walks to get coffee or chats with office buddies. At home, you may never get one if you don’t plan it.
- Stretch breaks are essential. Watch your back! You can seriously screw up your back if you aren’t careful. Sitting in a chair for endless hours at a time is so bad for your back. I make a point to get up every hour or two and do a 5-minute stretching routine and ensure I take pressure off my neck and upper back.
- Get ergonomic. Similar to number four, you must take care of your body. Ensure you have an ergonomic chair or at least put a pillow behind your back to support it. I also recommend getting a simple computer riser to ensure your computer is eye level and you aren’t looking down all day.
- Coffee shop time. Need some motivation? My favorite thing to do is work from a cute coffee shop. Often, if I’m in a creative rut, I can promise myself I’ll get to my favorite spot and dig in for a few hours there. A change of scenery does a world of good!
- Set hours as you like. As a self-employed person, I can set my own hours and times for meetings. In my scheduling app, I only open myself up for meetings or interviews Tuesday through Thursday from 10am-2pm. This way, my entire week isn’t jammed with meetings at random times. I know when I need to be on and when I can have more freedom with my schedule.
- End the workday at a set time. If you aren’t childless, it will be really easy to work for hours into the night. Even with kids, it can be a struggle if you have childcare. Make sure you have a stopping point and don’t expect too much of yourself. Monitor your mental health and make sure you aren’t overdoing it.
There are a lot of habits you can pick up to make sure working from home goes smoothly for you. It’s often about trying different things and moving into a rhythm. It can certainly take time, but give yourself the freedom to figure it out.
This guest blog was written by Ericka Andersen as part of the NeW 2022 Professional Development Week Blog Series. Andersen is a freelance writer and mother of two who works from home. She is the author of the upcoming book, Reason to Return.