Today’s post shares my top 5 tips to transform your work from home habits! For most of us, COVID-19 has thrust us not only into quarantine, but also into the challenge of working from home. If you’re riding the struggle bus, you’re not alone! It’s taken a few years for me to find my rhythm with working from home (extroverts, you feel me?).
However, after being homeschooled K-12 and having worked remotely post-college, you could call me a veteran at working from home . I’ve picked up a few habits that have made it easier and more enjoyable along the way, and I’m going to share those with you today! I’m also an enneagram type three (the achiever), so writing this blog about how to be productive and enjoy your work while working from home is my JAM. So without further ado, here are my top five tips to help you kick butt while working from home!
TIP ONE: CREATE ROUTINES FOR EACH PART OF YOUR DAY
Just like in the physical workplace, you need to create a work routine and take it seriously. What are things you do to get in a good head space for your workday? Here’s my morning/workday startup ritual as an example:
- Drinking a glass of cold water, brushing teeth, washing face
- Working out while listening to a podcast (ideally something business related) + grab a shower
- Preparing a balanced breakfast (overnight oats make this step real easy!)
- Spending time reading my Bible + in prayer
- Creating my top 3 goals for the workday
- Mapping daily schedule (time blocking) to complete task list for day
- Clear inbox + start tackling day
I also recommend creating an end of workday ritual. Define and follow the process of wrapping up your workday so that it can definitively end between 5 and 5:30p every day.
TIP TWO: SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS
For my fellow bullet-point lovers, here are a few action items that you can easily implement today that will make a noticeable difference in your workday. First, create your to-do list the night before. You don’t need to spend time at the beginning of the day determining what you need to work on. You need to spend it prioritizing your task list and mapping out how you’re going to tackle it. Which brings me to my next tip: TIME BLOCKING.
Start your workday with time-blocking. This is a method of time management that divides your day + tasks into blocks of time. Referencing your to-do list that you created the night prior will provide you with a summary of what you need to accomplish, and you’ll use time-blocking to prioritize actions as you map out your day.
I’ll preface time-blocking by saying that it’s as helpful as you allow it to be. If you’re flaky, it’s not going to benefit you, but if you do say HELLO to crazy productivity! Trial and error has taught me that mapping out my day in 20-30 minute increments is optimal. I would also recommend breaking up larger daily goals into several small increments throughout the day. This prevents mental block from working on one project exclusively, and keeps you on track to complete your task list.
Also, turn off social media and distracting content while working. Did you know it takes your brain over 20 minutes to get fully refocused after a distraction? That’s so not worth it! Resist the temptation to binge Tiger King on your dual screen (because you know that craziness is all you’ll be thinking about the rest of the day). Just think of what you’ll accomplish when you’re not mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, Facebook and Reddit during your defined work hours.!
Lastly, try to include things you enjoy into your workday! This could look like hitting up the Starbucks drive thru for your afternoon espresso or wearing your comfiest cardigan. Maybe it’s decorating your workspace with things that inspire you (check out this blog post for ideas!). Coffee, slippers and listening to my favorite Spotify playlist have been my quarantine go-to’s and they have not disappointed!
TIP THREE: DEFINE BOUNDARIES BETWEEN WORK & PLAY
If you are inconsistent about starting and ending your workday, you’ll more than likely end up blurring the lines between work and play. This will make you optimally effective at both because, let’s be honest, being preoccupied with one inhibits you from fully focusing on the other. In addition, it’ll leave you feeling like you’re constantly working. Trust me, being unable to break away from your work computer at 8p because you didn’t finish your work is far from ideal. Here are a few ways I reinforce boundaries for my workday:
- Dress like you would for a regular workday. I don’t personally recommend wearing “daytime pajamas” during quarantine– that doesn’t help you draw a line between when you are and aren’t working.
- Ladies, do your hair and makeup. I’ve found that I am more productive when I don’t look/feel like a hobo.
- Start and end your workday at a consistent time. If you don’t have this standard in place, you’ll never actually start your workday. This is because you’ve bought into the idea that you, “have the entire day to work.” So you never actually hunker down and accomplish your work. The reality is that by procrastinating on your work you’re likely prolonging the duration of your work day.
- When you end your workday, do something that gets you away from your workspace. This will reinforce the boundary between work ending and time off starting. My husband and I are implementing this practice by taking our golden-doodle, Opie, on a walk or run at the end of the workday. We find that the process of physically leaving our home denotes the same feeling we would have when driving home from work of, “we’re done with the workday, and it’s time to unwind.” Whether it’s taking a walk, gaming for 20 minutes or starting a puzzle, having boundaries between work and life is a MUST.
TIP FOUR: DETERMINE HOW YOU’RE MOTIVATED
The sooner you figure out how you’re motivated, the sooner you’ll get in a groove while working from home. So what does motivate you when it comes to your work? Is it checking things off your list? Is it by giving yourself incremental rewards throughout the day? If you’re unsure about how to answer this question, I’d recommend taking a test to determine your enneagram type. If you’re unfamiliar, the enneagram is a personality typing system that deals with subconscious motivation. Here’s a link to a free test. After taking it you can research how your enneagram type is motivated, specifically with work, and leverage that info to keep yourself motivated despite the monotony of working from home!
For example, as an enneagram type three (the achiever), I’m motivated by a desire to be viewed as successful, to feel valuable and to be admired. This motivation translates to being highly-driven and achievement-focused when it comes to work. There’s no cap to the amount I’ll work if it means I can continue leveling up and enhancing my reputation.
In terms of practical application for work, I’ve found that my core motivation of being viewed as successful can tangibly be achieved by setting clear goals and tackling them. I’m not necessarily reward-driven, so much as results driven. So this past year I spent time learning more about how to strategically set and effectively meet goals. I’ve adopted Michael Hyatt’s goal setting principles. I’ve learned how to keep myself continually motivated and satisfied with work and it’s made a world of difference.
Fair warning, I’ve spent the last few years discovering how I’m motivated with work and cultivating habits. You’ll more than likely not have this figured out overnight. However, taking these steps will set you up for success while working from home, and reshape the way you leverage your motivation, which will ultimately make your work more satisfying and enjoyable.
TIP FIVE: TAKE SCHEDULED BREAKS
Working from home already has its challenges (especially for us extroverts), but adding quarantine is just next level. Since most of us are stationary and working from a computer, scheduling regular times to move is essential. Start that load of laundry or take a walk outside over your lunch break! I guarantee that getting a change of scenery and your blood flowing will transform your workday.
While these 5 tips will transform your habits as you transition to working from home, don’t forget that this is very new for most of you! It’s a big transition, so give yourself grace as you adjust to this new normal. And for all of you that are working from home with kids you are flat out amazing and so impressive, seriously.
Cheers to using these tips to transform your work from home habits!