We have all heard the saying “working to live,” but this year has been a doozy. A lot of us are working from home 3-5x a week along with having our family duties still the same without the kids being at school. We are having to make sure that meals are planned out for the day, kids are set up for remote school work days, family pets are fed, oh and actually do our full-time careers. 

I used to think I was working to live life to the fullest, but then came the living to work phase where you are just working more and more to find small spurts of living life. Now after a discussion with a colleague, we are finding ourselves living at work. We discussed how hard it is to break away from the desk. And when we do we find the time minute second to do so, we are checking our cell phones for new emails or jotting down new thoughts so we don’t forget. 

How many of us were working 40-50+ hours a week from the office or part-time remotely and now we find ourselves working 50-60+ hours a week while working from home only? A lot of us are in the same position and just trying to figure it all out. 

I have been working remotely since 2015 when I moved from Colorado back to Tennessee and it took me awhile to figure out what I wanted working from home to look like. I had to work out what were good or bad distractions for me. I had to plan out my weeks for personal things I wanted to get done, so that when unexpected work issues came up I could easily add them within what I already had going on personally or scheduled at work. Here are some of the things I learned about working from home for the last 5 years and I hope they help you:

  • First things first, shower and get dressed for work

Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you have to slouch around all day. You don’t have to be dressed to the nines, but you do your best when you look your best. This will be the start to a very productive day. 

  • Have a dedicated, comfortable space

Optimize your space. Don’t take it for granted. This space needs to be just as inspiring as your cubicle or desk in the physical office space. This space should keep you focused and away from distractions happening in the other rooms. 

  • Set a clear schedule 

Working from home can provide a flexible schedule to some, but we should really set a clear schedule of the hours you will work. The schedule isn’t so much for you as it is for those around you. If you work the same schedule every week it sets expectations for others around you. It also keeps you from working overtime as well. 

  • Take your lunch away from work

You have been sitting all day. Walk away from it all. Regroup and get to that laundry you forgot to do over the weekend or to just eat. Replenish your body so you can continue to be productive for the rest of the day.  

  • Check in with your colleagues

Taking the time to schedule regular check ins with your colleagues will make them feel valued and included. Sometimes working remotely we tend to forget about people’s needs and what all everyone misses out on from being around each other daily. 

  • Learn your distractions (the good and the bad)

My good distractions: I like to sit next to a window to let sunshine in, to see the trees sway in the wind, or to see my neighbor’s fainting goat in the pasture running. These short glimpses of the outdoor world are what inspire me throughout the work day as well. It is part of my office space just outside the box. 

My bad distractions: Don’t fold that one pile of laundry or any other chore around the house during your set schedule. Home duties should be done during non-work hours (this includes the normal two 15 minutes breaks and lunches).  Use those times to step away from the desk and run your errands. 

  • Home and work are separate entities 

We have all tried, but how successful have we been when juggling work, cooking, kids, pets, etc.? I like to say I can multitask. Even as I write this blog, I am thinking about the other things I have to do. It is inevitable that we try to juggle more than we can. We have to find a way to make sure that when in work mode you stay there. When home life starts for you, then stay away from work. Give your attention to one entity at a time. It is only fair to those around you. 

Working from home doesn’t have to turn into living at work. These tips helped me increase my productivity while working and learn to not have sleepovers in my sleeping bag under my desk and living at work. If you have what works best for you and are outside of these suggestions, please let me know. I love to learn from others and try new things to change up the norm. Feel free to email me directly.

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