Okay, ladies. Most of us will be working from home for the next few weeks and while I am 100% down for a Netflix marathon or 3:00pm margaritas, we still have to get a little work done. Upon popular request, I’ve rounded up some of my go-to tips for achieving a super productive day while still maintaining some level of sanity when working from home. It can be done and all I got to say is: Ladies – we got this.
Set Your Morning Routine
Rule No. 1 No snooze buttons. No matter what your morning looks like, I want you to start with one rule and one rule only. No snooze button allowed. I know that extra 5 minutes might not seem like a big deal but it does a lot for shifting your mindset for the day ahead. It’s the first moment of the day that you’re able to procrastinate and if you ask me, it sort of validates the habit. In most circumstances, the “I’ll sleep for 5 more minutes” turns in to more like 30 minutes or an hour and then at the point, every part of your day is pushed back and thrown off. So, no snooze-ing allowed, ok?
Rule No. 2 Carve out a moment for YOU. Now that you’re up and ready to crush the day, I think it’s so important that you take a moment for you before you dive into work. Whether it’s with a morning meditation or stretch, getting in a home workout, sipping some tea and catching up on The Skimm or just reading through some of your favorite blogs, try to take at least 20-30 minutes in your morning for something that helps you set the tone for the day. (I know this might be harder if you have kids so if you have to sneak in just 5-10 minutes, try to aim for a little me time to kickstart your day)
Rule No. 3 Get dressed. I know – this one is probably the hardest for me, too. And I’ll be honest, I don’t do it every day. I am totally guilty of leaving on my workout clothes for a few extra hours or lounging around all day in the same sweatpants I slept in. And that’s okay every now and then. But I truly can notice a difference in my mindset when I wake up, do my morning “me” time and then get dressed for the day. Nothing fancy. Usually a tee shirt and jeans or a different pair of leggings. I brush my teeth, put on deodorant, freshen up and go about my day like I’m going to work at a coffee shop (no makeup obviously). This does wonders for the working mindset, I promise.
The environment matters
Tip No. 1 Setup shop at your desk or the dining room table. I am guilty of working from the couch or the bed. A lot. I’ll also be the first to tell you that I always regret it. I’m getting old so crossing my legs for 8 hours is never going to be a good idea for my knees. Your mindset is also totally out of whack when you’re bundled up on the couch all day trying to be productive. You get comfy and cozy and want to snuggle up for a nap. Don’t do it.
Tip No. 2 Treat your space like your office or desk at work. Get your equipment together and make sure you have everything you need to buckle down for a few hours and get to work. I like to keep a few pens nearby along with my phone and computer chargers, my planner, post-it notes and a highlighter.
Tip No. 3 Opt for background noise only if it helps. I can’t work in silence. I also don’t like to work with music on. I turn on Netflix and put on The Office or Parks and Recreation for my background noise. Everyone is different. Find what you like and if silence is your thing, that works, too!
Tip No. 4 Desk snacks & beverages. I always have water on hand, usually in my 1/2gallon hydrojug, and keep it by my computer throughout the day so I remember to drink it down. I also like to have a plate of fruit at my desk for a mid-morning snack and sometimes nibble throughout the day. When it’s right there, it sort of forces me to snack on that versus the things you might crave throughout the day.
Tip No. 5 Take breaks!! I can’t stress this enough. Build in mini-breaks into your schedule (see below). Setting yourself up for mindfulness and a little dance or waking break is key to getting through a day of sitting at a desk or table for 8 hours. I like to set my alarm at the start of every hour. When the alarm goes off, I’ll put on my favorite song and either dance for the full duration of the song or I’ll walk around the room. This is a great way to keep your body moving and pass a little time.
Create a Schedule
This is a big one. Everyone’s brains work differently so how you setup your schedule is totally up to you but I believe everyone needs one when working from home. A little over a year ago I started breaking my to-do lists into the following categories: a) things I need to do every single day, b) things I need to every week, and c) things I need to do every month. I take it one step further and have task lists for every weekday as well. These are the lists for things that need to happen on specific days, deadlines for projects, etc. On Sundays, I make a list of everything I need to get done for the week and then break it down by day using Asana and my Golden Coil planner.
Once I have all of my tasks for each day, I’ll create a schedule to get everything done. By now, I know on average how long it takes me to do certain tasks. If you’re newer to scheduling, it might take a few days to get used to having the flexibility. Try to record how long it takes you to do normal tasks so you can schedule them properly. For example, it takes me a long time to write a blog or send pitches so I wouldn’t schedule those for the same day – I wouldn’t be able to get anything else done. Instead, I’d assign pitches on the same day as shorter tasks like creating Pinterest graphics or updating my expenses from the week.
Check out a sample workday schedule below.
7:30am – 8:00am Wake up, get dressed for the day
8:00am – 9:00am Make breakfast smoothie and catch up on The Skimm. Unload dishwasher from the night before. Check emails from overnight, review tasks for the day and make changes if needed.
9:00am – 12:00pm Work through to-do list for that day
12:00 – 12:30pm Lunch and mindfulness break (will usually read a chapter from my book or listen to a podcast)
12:30 – 1:00pm Instagram engagement (engaging with other accounts, followers, sourcing inspiration, etc.)
1:00pm – 2:00pm Home workout. Currently using my Lauren Elyce Fit Home Workout Guide!
2:00 – 2:30pm Shower, change and grab a snack (usually fruit + nut butter and a protein iced coffee)
2:30 – 6:00pm Finish remaining tasks from that day’s to-do list. If for whatever reason I couldn’t get to everything, I’ll use this time to also adjust the rest of my tasks for the week.
6:00 – 8:00pm Cook dinner and load dishwasher. While dinner is cooking or while I’m eating, sometimes I’ll use that time to work on fun/miscellaneous projects like creating random Stories content or just perusing through Instagram.
Pro tip: get the big/annoying projects or tasks out of the way. If I have a blog post due to a brand or a big guide I need to crank out, I try to to get that done first thing. Not only do you feel so much better when the dreaded tasks is complete but it gives you this sense of comfort knowing that you just totally crushed this big task and now the rest of the day will be smoother sailing. Hopefully.
Set Your Nighttime Routine
Perhaps just as important as the way you start your day is the way you end it. This might differ for everyone based on their home life but what, works for me, is setting a clear routine to end each day so I am better prepared for the next. Sure, I’d love to stay up and binge-watch Friends while I keep working – and some people might work better at night – but I have a hard time believing these night owls are getting a ton of work done throughout the day and enjoying that sense of work-life balance. Or maybe I’m just really bad at it. Either way, I started winding down at 8:30-9:00pm every night and have noticed a huge difference in my sleep quality and my productivity the next day. Also to note – adequate rest is crucial for overall health so keep that in mind 🙂
I shut my computer down and put the phone away around 9:00pm every night (IG posts are usually scheduled so I’ll post right at 9 and then shut my phone off). I wash my face, brush my teeth, take my vitamins and get in the bed with a book. I read until I fall asleep which is usually around 10:00 or 10:30 and this has been the best thing I ever could have done for my productivity. Seriously.