Because let’s face it—the work from home life is here to stay.
Never did I envision that my entrance into the corporate world as a young twenty something would entail a home office and a commute from my bed to my desk, but the pandemic has left us with just that.
Don’t get me wrong now. Working from home has been incredible for a large number of reasons. I absolutely love it. That could probably be its own separate blog post. Studies have even shown that it has actually boosted employee morale and productivity.
But it doesn’t come without its own unique set of challenges. The grass is always greener right? I’ve been in my current role working remotely for about six months now, and while I’m still in some ways getting accustomed to and challenged by it, I’ve also learned a thing or two about how to work from home in a way that fosters personal health and success.
1. Get ready in the morning (like actually)
I know the temptation to wear the same pair of sweatpants three days in a row is often too great to resist. And listen, I get it. I value comfort and most of the time you will find me doing exactly that. But sometimes you really just need to get ready for yourself.
I know people are only going to see you on Teams or Zoom from the chest up, so you’re probably thinking, “What’s the point?” Something about getting ready in the morning really just provides you with a sense of normalcy and satisfaction. It’s an instant mood booster! It feels like you’re already off to a productive start on your day because you’ve accomplished something. Even if it is just picking out a cute outfit and putting on mascara.
If the days are starting to blend together and feel mundane, give yourself a little extra time in the morning and dress to impress. Even if the only on you’re impressing is yourself. You’re the one that matters most after all.
2. Take actual breaks
It’s so easy to blur lines and boundaries between personal and work life when your house also functions as your office.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to unplug from your laptop and take breaks throughout the day.
You can’t be at your best if you’re not giving yourself time to recharge, so you’re not doing you or your job any favors by powering through your lunch.
Obviously every role and every company is going to look different. But whether it’s a five minute phone break, fifteen minutes to go for a walk, or lunch with a friend, allow yourself to step back for a moment and decompress. You’ll feel much more well balanced and rejuvenated when you return to your tasks at hand, and to be honest, it will probably shine through in your quality of work and general mood each day.
Don’t skip your breaks. You’re only hurting yourself.
3. Go outside
This one is going to sound so simple and kinda stupid, and maybe it is, but I started my job in the fall right before cold winter weather hit. I’d close my laptop for the day at 5pm. It would be dark out, and I just wouldn’t leave my house. I didn’t really give myself reasons to.
Things are changing now that the warmer weather is hitting us, but I really wish I wouldn’t have been a recluse all throughout the winter. Even if you’re just running outside to take out the trash, a quick walk down the street, or literally just standing in your yard for ten minutes… just do it. I felt so much better on days I actually stepped outside and got some fresh air, saw the sun, etc. It’s like a reminder the outside world still exists and a change of scenery for your senses.
4. Create a good working environment
This one has been quite the challenge living in close quarters with three other people, and if I’m being honest, probably what I still struggle with the most.
I’m not fortunate enough to have a whole room that is dedicated to being a home office for myself. To have this is a privilege that I think the corporate world kind of takes for granted and assumes everyone has access to.
The way I have navigated this is to make the best of your situation and get creative. Create a little corner of the world for yourself. For me, this means I set up a little dedicated space in my basement with a desk and all of my tech gear. When others are home, I will give them a heads up of any upcoming work calls I might have for the day and close the door when I need to minimize interruptions and noise.
A good environment also means finding what works best for you. If I’m being honest, I’ve never been a desk person. Ever. It always felt rigid and difficult to concentrate. I spent my college years typing essays in my bed or on the couch because that’s what felt most comfortable, natural, and productive to me.
Now that I work from home, I think changing up the scenery has helped me work more productively. For example, in the mornings when no one is home, I will work at my kitchen table and enjoy breakfast or tea. In the afternoons, I’ll migrate back to my desk in the basement once family gets home from work.
The bottom line is your environment is meant to foster your productivity and creativity—not hinder it. Shape it to fit your needs.
5. Book dedicated focus time and minimize distractions
Procrastinators everywhere grimaced reading that. Just kidding. To keep things real and transparent though, we are working from home. Home is where all the distractions are.
Whether it’s your three-year-old watching Paw Patrol or it’s social media, working from home means we need to be a little extra on top of the distractions because they’re everywhere.
As I mentioned, working with the door closed helps keep me away from noisy distractions, but other tips and tricks I have for staying on task are putting your phone on silent and booking dedicated time to get things done.
I have quickly become a Microsoft super fan. A controversial take, I know, but Outlook and OneNote are honestly my two my best work friends.
I highly recommend leveraging your digital work calendar and scheduling time for yourself to get specific tasks done if you’re not already. I hear all the time how people have so many scheduled calls and meetings that it often leaves them with little time to attend to their massive to-do list. Schedule time for yourself to get stuff done and own your day-to-day. It’s important to find balance between making yourself available but also staying productive.
Speaking of to-do lists, I encourage you to find a planning and/or note taking system that works for you. Me personally, I’ve always been a paper planner type of gal, but since starting in this new role, I have really fell in love with the convenience of using OneNote. Basically, if I don’t write it down, it might as well not exist. OneNote is so versatile and has so many cool functions that I am still discovering. I use it to manage my list of tasks, takes notes on meetings, log and brainstorm ideas, and more.
6. Go into the office anyway
I don’t want to lose anyone just yet, so before you click off at this one, just hear me out!
One of the biggest drawbacks to working from home in an online landscape and being hired in a post-pandemic world is that it is exceptionally difficult to build relationships organically with coworkers through a screen. Digital and remote work comes with obstacles to building a rapport with coworkers. I’ve been at my current company for almost half of a year, and I have found that the most impactful moments in my relationships with my coworkers have stemmed from the handful of times I have seen them in person.
I know going into the office is not feasible for everyone (a remote world means your office could be several states if not countries away). I also know that not everyone values or desires that camaraderie, and that’s okay too. For me, building a bond with the people I share a common goal with and spend a good chunk of my day talking to happens to be pretty important.
If nothing else, going into the office goes hand in hand with some of the previous tips mentioned. It provides a sense of normalcy, change of scenery, and balance. Even if you’re not a social butterfly, a little human interaction goes a long way and is important to a well-rounded lifestyle.
7. Know when to start and end your day
I’m bringing it back to what I said earlier about setting boundaries and work-life balance.
Do not overwork yourself. Don’t be the person putting in fourteen hour days and answering emails on Saturday night. That is job burnout in the making. You need to be able to decompress and unwind, so that you’re well-rested when it’s time to start a new week. Treat yourself with kindness and respect your time.
On the same note: take your PTO. That’s literally what it’s there for.
8. Make plans after work
Now, I’m not sure who else is guilty of this… But I find it so incredibly easy when I log off for the day to immediately just get into bed. I think it leaves me feeling more exhausted when I do that to be honest.
Back when I used to constantly be out-and-about and on-the-go, I found it so easy to go from place to place and make plans with friends. I wouldn’t tire out! Then once I’d get home, I’d crash and be done for the day.
Being at home all day makes leaving the house after work feel just that much more of a chore.
Really, you just need to push yourself and seize the day. There is a girl I discovered on TikTok who has turned this into a series where she documents her after work events and daily life and I absolutely love watching her videos and feeling inspired.
I feel so much better mentally and emotionally when I stay productive in my personal and social life and give myself things to look forward to after 5 o’clock.
Make plans to grab drinks with a friend, go to the gym, grab dinner, run errands… something I’m looking to challenge and empower myself with is to take myself on more solo dates and spend quality time alone. I think sitting at the bar by yourself or going on a hike alone can be intimidating, but I also imagine it feels freeing and I’m looking to explore more things like that in the near future.
What are your best practices and tips for working from home? Comment down below.
Featured image by Lisa Fotios