The last time I worked in a corporate office was 2009 (whooaaaa, my goodness, has it really been that long 😳!) Since then it’s been an ever-changing journey to find an at-home work rhythm. This year has probably been my F A V O R I T E and most effective work routine of the past few years. I can’t take all the credit for myself, my husband helps keep me in line and on schedule with his incredible work ethic. It’s one of the many things I admire about him. 🙂
Ok, I’ll stop gushing over my hubby, but I wanted to pass along some things I have found to work best in keeping an organized work schedule while at home.
Keep your routine as much as possible
I know you’ve seen it and heard it. I get it, it sounds a little silly. How can you keep a routine when your world is feeling upside down. Well here’s the thing, the world outside your home may feel crazy, but you have the opportunity to establish some small area of normalcy. If you work out first thing in the morning, keep it up. If you prefer to start your workday at 8 am, then do it and enjoy those few steps to your office space instead of sitting in traffic for once. You get the idea. Establishing something consistent in your life will help you function better at work and in life during this season.
Saying this one is just so weird. Like you are a grown adult and I really shouldn’t have to tell you to get dressed. BUT I know! I know the temptation to simply stay in your Pjs, but don’t do it! It makes that nap way too tempting. Ok, now that it’s out there, this one, above all else, is probably the most important advice I can give you. If nothing else Change. Your. Clothes. Hmmm…maybe a slogan would be more effective? Change your Clothes, Change your mindset. The physical act of stepping out of your PJs and putting on work attire sets you on the right track to conquering your workday. Now go conquer that to-do list of yours!
Establish a Work Space
Establishing a workspace, similar to changing clothes, helps to establish a work mindset. Stuck in a 1 room space? Trust me, I’ve been there! Between years of having a desk in my bedroom to living in a 1 room flat in Germany with my husband, establishing a “work” environment is not always easy – especially with little ones around. If you have to work in your bedroom, make your bed otherwise you might be tempted to nap or feel the stress of a cluttered space. If a separate room is available, just a space you can routinely set up a laptop is all you need to operate.
The best part of having an established workspace is either closing the door or clearing it off after work hours are over. Being able to step away from the “office” will allow you to decompress from your day and be present at home. Miss the commute you usually take to decompress? An afternoon walk will do the trick!
Set Small Milestones Throughout Your Days and Weeks
In the book, The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, it’s discussed how powerful small milestones are in order to achieve major goals. Setting milestones once again affects our mindset. It encourages us to push boundaries in order to finish a task and often results in a need to celebrate the achievement or commemorate the effort.
To give an example, let’s say you want to run a 1/2 marathon in 6 months. To make the most of this large milestone, it’s best to break it down in smaller goals starting with running a 5k in month 2, then a 10k in month 4, and finally a 1/2 marathon in month 6. Doing this in your at-home work routine will result in better productivity or achieving those large tasks. You can even set rewards for achieving smaller milestones for more incentive. For example, take 1 hour to answer all emails and then enjoy 5 minutes on social media. Or complete a presentation and enjoying a small walk outside.
Take a Lunch Break
Just like working out of the house, you should plan out your meals for the week. If you use to meal prep before your work/school week, do the same even if you’re at home. This removes the distraction of spending too much time in the kitchen cooking and doing dishes. Having a home-cooked meal is such a benefit to working at home, but be sure to make the most of it!
Take a Day Off
Already, many of you know that working in an office or home is difficult to maintain a work/life balance. Maybe emails get the best of you after finishing at the office? Speaking from experience, take 1 day off during your week can make a huge difference. It doesn’t have to fall on Sunday, though it’s easiest with the flow of society if you are able to make it work. You WILL exhaust yourself. It’s so tempting to want to get a jump on the week, answer “a few emails”, but mentally, that break is necessary. Your body, your family, your mind and your work will all benefit. Allowing yourself to rest and recover from the workweek will all you to return to work stronger and ready to take on the week.
Set a Social Media Schedule
Now that you don’t have co-workers to chat with or “office rules” in place in your home, social media can be a huge distraction. You can go through the efforts of login out of all of your apps and websites or even removing them from your phone. However, you can also simply set timers. Instagram even allows for a pop up to notify you if you’ve reached a certain amount of viewing time during your day. It’s amazing how easy it is to get stuck in the rabbit hole of social media and it’s up to you to create boundaries.
Listen to the TV, a Podcast or Radio
I bet you didn’t see this one coming! But it’s something that’s so useful to keep on task! One of the biggest things that leave me feeling isolated in an at home work environment the lack of conversation. Obviously phone and video meetings help, but they are inconsistent and sometimes draining. Having a TV show on in the background – one that you can probably recite word for word – or a podcast can help fill the silence.
Give Yourself Grace
Let me just tell you that working from home will not look the same each and every day. Sure, it doesn’t in an office either, but working at home takes some time to adjust to. Ideally, the moment we all adjust to this new way of life will hopefully be the time everything is ready to reopen and return to normal. Remind yourself that this season is hard for you and for others, there will be setbacks and it’s ok to take breaks when you emotionally need to process or recharge. Remember that you are also not alone. We all feel the weight of this season. Just as you extend grace to yourselves, let’s be mindful to extend it towards others. Together we’ll get through this – one day at a time.
To God be all the glory. In every season, always.