How to successfully work from home

The beginning of a new year is usually a period of renewed motivation, not only mentally and physically but also professionally.  I am fortunate to have a job which allows me the opportunity to work from home, and this works well for me – it’s overall made me a more productive employee and has helped me define a solid work/live balance.  But it can also be challenging, and I honestly do not believe it’s for everyone.

To successfully work remotely you have to stay self-motivated and driven, which can be a lot easier to do in an office setting where there is energy from others to feed off of. When I first started working from home busy days were easy, I put my head down and knocked out my to-do list, but the slower days when I needed to be proactive could at times be a struggle.  It took me a few months to find the best routine that works for me and now I actually work my best from home.

My number one recommendation to make you successful working outside of the office is to get into a regular routine.  Obviously, every day will be different, but having a rough daily outline helps me stay accountable.  There are days I shake it up and work from coffee shops or cafes when I need a change of scenery, but I still stay close to this routine:

6:30am-7:30am Wake up, make coffee, get Jackson ready to get out the door

On an ideal morning I get up, make coffee and get Jackson up and ready to head out the door with Ryan by 7:30am.

7:30am – 8:30am This is the time I take for myself

This hour may be my favorite hour of the day.  It is the only real time I have for myself with no obligations and I spend it getting myself mentally ready for the day ahead. What I do during this time depends on the morning, but I usually catch up on the news, drink a second cup of coffee, blog, read, take Marley for a walk or go for a run.  One thing I try to do every morning during this hour is to make my bed.  I have never been one to regularly make my bed, it wasn’t something I had to do growing up and and I never thought much about it until I read this article and figured why not give it a try.  While I’m not sure it’s increased my daily productivity I do think it helps keep me organized and I like the look of a made bed.

8:30am-9am Shower, dress and get myself ready

I think this is one of the most important things to do before kicking off the work day. When you work from home it’s easy to go straight from bed to your computer, staying in pajamas all day, but I find if I treat the day the same as if I was going to the office I am more productive and it puts me in the mindset to work.  In full transparency, sometimes this just means changing into work out clothes and often I don’t put on make-up – but I always make sure I feel refreshed.

9am – 12pm or 1pm Work

12pm-2pm Take break, even if it’s only 15-20 minutes

This is something I didn’t initially do when I started working remotely, but it has made such a difference in my day.  If you’re working in an office setting there’s lots of breaks throughout the day – catching up with coworkers, grabbing lunch at a diner or out somewhere, etc – but at home there’s nothing to break up the day, so it’s important to make it a priority to take a lunch break. Ideally I take about 45 minutes to an hour, walk the dog or sit on the front porch and actually eat a lunch.  But most days I can’t afford to take this long of a break, but even if it’s 15-20 minutes to walk around and decompress it helps reset for the afternoon ahead.

1pm – 5pm(ish) Finish out the rest of the work day

5:30m(ish) Pick up Jackson from daycare

I try really hard to wrap up my day and pick Jackson up from daycare before 6pm.  If there is still pending work or things I need to complete I’ll come back to it once he’s down around 7:30-8pm.

This is what works for me, but I hope it gives you some ideas on how to make your days more productive.  If you’re new to WFH or thinking about changing to this model, I would say give it a little time to find what works best for you.

xo – Nicole

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