Hi friends, how was your weekend? I know we are all struggling with our “new normal” and for many of us, that means working from home. I’ve been working from home for over six years now and my day-to-day work flow really hasn’t changed throughout all of this, so I thought I’d share some tips that help me stay productive, focused, and efficient while working from my home office. Home is honestly my favorite place to be, and surprisingly- to work… especially after figuring out and perfecting my system. Click through for my 5 tips if you’re working from home for the first time, along with a little roundup of my favorite home office furniture pairings…
Before we get started, I want to say- my home office isn’t finished. We haven’t renovated (other than replacing the flooring), and much like many of you are currently doing- I’ve been trying to make the most of it since we moved in over a year ago! Just because you don’t have a beautiful, totally finished home office (or even a designated office space, for that matter), doesn’t mean you can’t create a functional workspace in your home.
#1 // Stick To A Schedule & Routine
This one is huge for me- you guys know I love a good schedule! I like to take time each morning to write down tasks in my planner for the day ahead. It really helps me stick to a routine while crossing things off my list. I’d recommend blocking out your time and filling up your hours with the tasks you need to achieve, as well as break times like you normally would at a regular office (lunch time, etc). Take it from someone who has been doing this a LONG time… it’s easy to over calculate just how much you can accomplish in a day, so I’d recommend starting low, then add tasks as necessary. That helps me plan my day and stay on task from home, while being productive and focused. It also gives me a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the workday.
Since I’ve been working from home for many years, I’ll be the first to admit- I don’t fully “get ready” each day. Sure… I try to workout, shower, dry my hair, etc, but unless I have a scheduled meeting (even if it’s virtual), I typically stick to my standard WFH uniform: comfortable jeans or workout pants, with a sweater or comfy top, and sneakers that I only wear inside our house (for me, putting on shoes feels like I’m going to work). It helps me feel ready for the day, without spending too much time on my appearance. Staying in your pajamas all day sounds great in theory, but I’ve learned it doesn’t help my mindset or productivity. Even switching out of those PJs to athletic wear or regular comfortable clothing can boost your mood. The moral of this tip? Get ready to tackle each day, make a schedule, then stick to it!
#2 // Establish A Workspace
Having a home office or dedicated workspace is super important when you are working from home. It’s very easy to get distracted by things around the house (laundry, dishes, taking the dogs for a walk, the TV, social media, etc), when you are supposed to be in work mode. Having a routine and a dedicated workspace helps me to create those boundaries and be present with my work. When I’m IN my work zone, I’m totally focused on work. When I’m in other areas of my home, I try to check out of work- physically and mentally. While I currently have a home office- the space is pretty open and doesn’t even have a door (or overhead lights, for that matter), but it does give me a space to be productive. Even if you don’t have a designated room to turn into your home office, find a space in your home that could work for you.
In our first home, I shoved a small desk into a corner of our guest room. If you don’t have extra space, get creative- could the dining table or breakfast nook provide you with a solid work surface or space? If that’s the case, keep your work items in a rolling cart, basket, or a cabinet nearby and move them to and from the table each day (almost as if you’re clocking in and out). My point being… find space in your home to create a makeshift office or enhance your existing home office to better meet your needs. This will help you be productive and set boundaries better than working from the couch one day, moving to the bed the next day, it will also help you establish an efficient routine and gain a sense of normalcy.
I should also add- make sure your workspace is equipped with the tech and supplies you need. When I first began working from home, it became obvious what items I needed to buy to create a better home office (a printer, basic office supplies, etc). Although nobody is sure how long social distancing or sheltering in place will last, it’s better to be prepared to do your job to the best of your ability for however long this may last.
#3 // Focus
It’s so easy to get distracted by things around the house when you work from home. Removing distractions like turning on the TV or throwing in a load of laundry might not seem like a big deal, but they can mess with your productivity and schedule over time. If you know what distracts you, remove those interruptions so you can focus. Sometimes you have to be strict with yourself and practice discipline in this matter. This is where creating a time slot schedule can be very helpful, so you know when it is time to work, time to tackle house chores, and time to relax or take a break.
#4 // Take Breaks
Speaking of breaks… this sounds like a silly one, but I always add short breaks into my day when I’m planning out my schedule. Taking a quick walk with the pups, giving myself an hour to make and eat lunch, or just not working for 10 or 15 minutes really helps me to refocus when I do get back to my work. Finding ways to walk away from work for a bit or even finding a way to connect with people helps the day feel more balanced and normal. I add dog walks, lunch, and home chore breaks into my daily schedule. I really do! Sometimes I’ll even set a timer… I’ll work really hard for two hours, knowing that when my timer goes off, I can take a 30 minute dog walk to get some fresh air and reset my mind.
#5 // Know When to Stop and Walk Away
This is a huge one for me! It’s so easy to work longer hours than you typically would in an office setting because your workspace is IN your home. There is no end of day cue, or coworkers simultaneously leaving the office to signal you to clock out. It’s tough to walk away when everything is literally connected (especially as a small business owner when 100% of the weight falls on you), but setting those boundaries between work time and personal time is incredibly important. I have set work hours, I try to stick to my schedule, and then I walk away- which can honestly be VERY difficult because there is always something to do. I’m still not the best at this because my personality type and mindset is to get as much done as I possibly can. However, I’ve found that creating and defining separation has been really good for both my personal and work life. It’s really essential. Be present at work and be present at home… even if the lines are blurred and the two are under the same roof.
I’m sharing 10 desk and chair pairings I put together below, if you’re brainstorming how to assemble your home office or workstation! Click directly on my desk and chair finds below to be redirected to the source, or use the links at the bottom of the collage to shop.
pairing #1: desk & chair // pairing #2: desk & chair // pairing #3: desk & chair // pairing #4: desk & chair // pairing #5: desk & chair // pairing #6: desk & chair // pairing #7: desk & chair // pairing #8: desk & chair // pairing #9: desk & chair // pairing #10: desk & chair
I hope this helps you if you are navigating working from home right now! Do you have any questions about working from home or setting up a designated home office area? My friend Sarah just shared a giant roundup of office chairs, if you need more ideas. Do you have any tips to share that I didn’t cover here? I hope you guys are doing well and are staying safe!