Working From Home? Top Tips for Crushing Your Work, Social, and Fitness Goals.
We are a society built on routines.
We set our morning alarm.
Maybe we hit snooze. Maybe we hit it again.
But we eventually get up, brush our teeth, get dressed, grab coffee, commute to work, socialize a bunch, commute back home, eat dinner, watch Netflix, go to bed. And then do it all over again. Day in and day out.
Having a routine gives our days structure. It’s our work flow. Our system of managing time and priorities. And all of a sudden, practically overnight, our everyday routines have been thrown a huge curveball.
What do you do when you suddenly find yourself working at home with your spouse for 8 hours a day?
How do you socialize when you’re trying to avoid public places?
And what the hell do you do with all this extra time now that EVERYTHING IS CANCELED?
Keep reading as I share with you all of my tips for surviving the next month working from home and making new routines to keep yourself sane. For the past two years I’ve been working for a company with a very prominent work-from-home culture and so I’ve had plenty of practice perfecting the art of the WFH.
So let’s start off with this idea of “working from home.” Tell me this doesn’t sound freaking fantastic at first? You can sleep in, ditch the commute, and wear your Jedi bathrobe all day. But just like everything shiny and new, this gets really old fast. All of a sudden you find yourself pasty white because you haven’t seen sunlight in days and you’ve already spilled coffee all over your robe but you’re just too lazy to change. (Ok maybe that got a little personal). But you get the point. So how do you optimize your routine? How do you make it productive and enjoyable without getting stuck in a rut?
Here are my top five solutions to optimize your new work from home experience:
- Give yourself time in the morning. Now I don’t have kids or a dog so obviously this will be different for everybody. But there have been a couple of things very successful people do in the mornings that I just haven’t given myself the time to incorporate. This includes: journaling, meditating, working out, and reading. Not saying I’m going to do all those things at once, but heck! With an extra two hours of my life back without having a commute, meditating and working out in the mornings sounds like a pretty good start.
- Take breaks. Now that I’m working from home, I’ve installed the software IRIS onto my computer to not only block blue light, but also to turn off my screen every hour as a reminder to get up and stretch. Without having a work buddy to convince you to get coffee or take a walk, it’s easy to forget to do these things. My fiancé likes to do micro workouts like squats and push-ups every 30 min. I’ll be happy if I can just get up and stretch my legs. Baby steps.
- Pomodoro technique. This is a time management method where you use a timer to break down work into intervals separated by breaks. I can’t work more than 45 minutes straight without feeling tempted to check social media. So what I’ve done is set a timer to continue working for 45 minutes, and then I take a 10–15 break to do whatever I want. And if checking email and social media is too tempting, there are a bunch of apps you can use to block yourself from checking these sites for a period of time.
- Self-care. Take care of your skin when you’re putting in some extra hours at home. I’ve started using face masks during the day — something I could never get away with in the office. Give yourself a chance to put on that clay mask that’s been sitting in your cupboard for months or even give yourself a massage with a foam roller; whatever it takes to make you feel your best.
- Optimize your workspace. I am prone to getting easily distracted by things. So my fiancé and I moved our desks around so that we’re not facing each other and it’s much easier to get stuff done that way. If you use a monitor at work, bring it home if you can. Get a pair of noise canceling headphones if your spouse or roommate take a lot of conference calls. I have a really comfortable seat cushion and an ergonomic foot pad for my standing desk so that I feel good sitting or standing. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable or work out of your bed all day. In fact, I would highly advise against that. Make your bedroom your safe, sacred sleeping space — far away from your work space.
So what about socializing? So many of us get a lot of our social interactions from coworkers in the workplace. Fortunately, we live in an age where you can still be socially active without having to physically be somewhere to do it.
Here are three social things you can do at home to achieve this:
- FaceTime everyone. Your mom, your friends, even your coworkers. Seeing someone’s face — even if it’s just on a screen — is so much better than just a text or phone call. Use tools like FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom to make this happen as much as you need.
- Enroll in an online course. With all of this extra time on your hands after work with no place to go, why not pick up that online camera course you’ve been eyeing for months? So many of these online classes are structured in a way that gives you face-time with instructors or other people taking the class with you. You get to be part of a community and learn a new skill. Time well spent.
- Make time for local friends. As I mentioned before, working from home means you’re losing hours of face-to-face time with coworkers. So during this time when most of our work convos will be over slack or google hangouts, prioritize your in-person interactions with the friends who live close, even if it’s just for a night-in playing board games and hanging out.
Finally we move onto exercise and staying physically active at home. I love group classes because they motivate me to work out. But this month, it’s a little harder to do that. So I’m gonna Jane Fonda this sh** and do some at-home workouts.
Here are four quick and easy ways to get a good workout in:
- Check out Instagram. Some of my favorite fitness coaches have free tutorials on their Instagram pages. Take Charlee Atkins for instance. She used to be a SoulCycle instructor and now she’s a personal trainer who shares some amazing body weight and abs exercises you can do on a yoga mat at home.
- Get some portable workout gear. I just bought some fitness bands, a resistance ball and hand weights just to get me by. You don’t have to spend a ton of money either. Limit yourself to $50 and Amazon prime that stuff, baby!
- Free workout apps. I also found a few apps like 7 Min Workout and Workout for Women with targeted exercises for abs and glutes. I especially like them because you can set a timer for how long you want to workout. If you only have 10 min, great! A lot of these apps are free or really cheap and they coach you on how to do the moves.
- Get outside. If it’s nice out, go for a walk outside and soak up some sun while you’re at it. My Apple Watch is always reminding me to move more, so use this stuff to your advantage and just get up and go.
And finally…perhaps the most important advice of all is create structure for yourself. We’re all creatures of habits, and for the next month or so, we can choose to creature a structured routine or very easily fall into bad habits. Do what you can to organize your day in a way that makes you feel like you can balance your work and home life. Don’t spend all of your time working. Give yourself breaks, but in a strategic way. I personally like to use a planner, but sticky notes work well. There are a bunch of apps that can remind you to step away from your computer as well, including Time Out, Tomato Timer, and Break Timer.