I realize that every second person who works online has written an article with a similar title to this, promising to deliver the need to know working from home tips. And while many of those articles may be great, I know a lot of them are telling you that in order to work from home successfully you must do this, and this and absolutely don’t skip that.
I know people are only trying to help, much like I am too, but I’m here to share tips that have personally worked for me and to remind you that just because they worked for me or for someone else, doesn’t mean that they have to work for you too.
I want to remind you that it’s perfectly fine to take and use or disregard advice as you need. The most important thing to remember is that you have to do what works best for you and for your mental health. Without your mental health in prime condition your work will suffer and so will most other things in your life.
These tips for working from home are given with your mental health as a priority so you can still deliver great work and have a great freakin’ life when you’re not working.
Working from home tips for your mental health
These are my best tips to work from home, whether that’s in your living room or on a different continent, to help you keep the most important things in mind – what will create the healthiest environment and habits to keep you producing great work without sacrificing your sanity.
Have a dedicated workspace
When you first start working from home, or maybe even before you started working from home, you daydreamed of being able to sit on the couch or lay in your bed while doing work.
While that sounds fabulous and oh so comfy, it makes it hard for your body and mind to figure out when it’s time to relax and when it’s time for work. This can make it difficult to actually learn how to work from home effectively.
While there are times that I do work from the couch, the bed has become a definite no-no for me to work from. In fact, my whole bedroom is off limits for me to work from. And that’s because my bedroom is a place dedicated to relaxation and sleep.
When you walk into your room you want your body and mind to know that it’s time to turn off. If you’re sleeping, working and playing from the same place it can often confuse your brain, leaving you feeling confused of what you’re supposed to be doing or guilting yourself into thinking you should really be doing something else.
I believe (and know from personal experience) that having a dedicated work space does wonders for my mind. When I sit down at my desk I know it’s serious work time. When I sit on the couch I know it’s TV time. When I sit in a certain chair it’s time to read. When I’m in bed it’s sleep.
Do I break these rules sometimes? Absolutely. But having clearly defined which space is used for what helps my productivity tremendously.
If you don’t have enough space or ever separate rooms to dedicate to certain activities you can move things or use other things to help your brain and body know when it’s time to switch into work mode or relaxation mode.
For example, when working have a notepad beside you, put on a certain kind of music, use a set scent in your diffuser (you can find lots of scents for focus). Then when it’s time to turn off from work, move your laptop and put it away, light a candle, use a salt lamp, change up the scent, listen to different music. All of these will help your brain switch from productivity mode to relaxation mode.
Don’t treat it like a regular workday
Unless your boss is asking that you do treat it like a regular workday, by signing in and out at a set time, I recommend to not treat it like a regular workday.
I know, this may seem counterproductive, but if you’re new to working from home or have been for a while, it doesn’t matter because working from home is not like a regular workday!
Tricking yourself into believing that it is a regular workday I don’t think is beneficial and is not a way to learn how to work from home successfully.
The society we live in really enforces this idea that working 8 hours a day is what we all need to do. We’re told when to take our breaks, when to eat, when to start working and when to stop. This leaves us no room to do what actually feels right for us and may actually be stopping us from being our most productive selves.
The idea that our workdays should be shortened isn’t new. In fact, some research suggests that a 3-hour workday is best. It’s also been scientifically proven that working more does not lead to more productivity or efficiency.
So no, don’t treat working from home like a regular workday. Instead, use it as a time to explore what really works for you. Maybe it’s really focusing and pounding out your work in 3-hours and then being done for the day.
Maybe it’s working in small increments of 25-minutes and then taking small 5-minute breaks like the Pomodoro Technique suggests.
Maybe it’s working early in the mornings, or late at night.
I encourage you to take the time to explore and really find out how you work most efficiently and when you’re most productive. And when you figure that out, you don’t even have to stick with it because some days could be different from others.
Maybe taking Wednesday’s off for a fun hump day helps you get more done on Thursday’s and Friday’s. Or maybe the Monday blues is too much for you so you work on Sundays instead.
Working from home gives you so much freedom, if you have the option, explore that freedom and find out what really works for you. You won’t find out if you continue working the 9-5 like you’ve been told you have to.
Note that this does take trial and error and requires you to be very self-aware. I recommend keeping a journal to see how you perform and feel to look back on so you can determine what works best for you.
Get the rest that you need
Gone are the days where you have to wake up to an alarm, unless you have meetings that you have on a call for a certain time.
But if you’re one of the lucky ones who can work whenever you want, so long as you get the work done, then you can opt to wake up without an alarm.
It’s time for your body to rest when it wants to. It’s time for you to naturally wake up when your body wants to, instead of when your boss wants you to.
I personally haven’t used an alarm to wake up for years, unless I’m catching a flight or must be somewhere by a certain time. And waking up when my body wants to is freakin’ amazing.
I’m less tired, I have more energy and overall it just feels good.
Your body will adjust to what is best for you within as little as a few days. Sometimes it could take a week or longer. But when you start waking up when your body is ready instead of when it’s told to you will be more energized, productive and efficient.
And if you’re worried about sleeping in too much, maybe that’s what your body needs. Or you could take setting the intention before you go to bed that you want to wake up by a certain time. Saying it out loud or in your head “I wake up at 5AM,” will help your body to know when you intend to wake up.
I’ve woken up super early just by doing this and without setting an alarm. Your body just knows!
Get up and move (or get outside)
Movement has been proven to help with the obvious physical health but also mental health and it can also improve your alertness and energy. When you’re more alert, you’re more focused. When you’re more focused, you’re more productive.
Creating a routine that includes moving your body is great but if you’re not moving your body in the form of exercise every day, you can still easily add movement into your life.
If you find yourself getting groggy or unfocused, try jumping up, putting on a good song and having a mini dance party for a minute or two. Or maybe just doing a few stretches will do it for you.
Movement allows energy to move through your body and when you’re spending so much time sitting that energy gets trapped and can cause you to get anxious, stressed and just straight up be sore from being in one position. Our bodies are not meant to be in one position for so long.
Go for walks outside or take an extra long walk to the bathroom by circling around your house a couple of times. I can guarantee you’ll be better after moving even just a little bit, stretching or dancing.
If you have the opportunity to get outside, do it! There are many links to how getting outside enhances productivity by leading to more inspiration, decreasing stress, increasing concentration and much more.
Change your clothes
I know how tempting it is to work in your pajamas and while that may sound super cozy, it’s not always beneficial.
Just like I discussed how having a dedicated workspace is important to signal to your body and mind that it’s time to get serious and work, changing your clothes can also do the same thing.
This doesn’t mean that it requires you to put a suit on or whatever clothes you wore while working, but changing out of the clothes you sleep in or wear while you’re having breakfast tells your body and mind that it’s time to start working and that you’re switching from one part of your day to another.
One of the joys of working from home is that you get to be comfy and I highly recommend rocking whatever it is that you want to wear (I wear sweat pants and am rockin’ a messy bun most days) but it is important to change at least once a day.
Also make sure that you’re wearing clean clothes and are not just picking up what you threw onto the floor yesterday!
Set up boundaries with others
Chances are that you’re working from a home that has other people living in it. If that’s the case it’s important to set clear boundaries with those you share a household with so that you can maximize your productivity as best you can and avoid distractions that may throw you off.
I know that this is one of the more difficult tips to work from home because it involves other people, but it’s so beneficial.
It could be as simple as putting a sign on your door saying that you’re working and to please not disturb you.
It could be sitting down with your family or roommates and telling them that just because you’re home more now doesn’t mean it’s all fun and games. Asking them to respect that and having them agree will hold all of you accountable.
Before jumping on a call it’s helpful to remind others in your home that you are on a call and to not enter the room you’re in or to be more quiet than usual. This can help avoid some awkward moments too!
Explaining to others where your dedicated workspace is or what times you are working will help them to not disturb you as well.
When setting these boundaries it helps others understand that it’s important to you but understanding that it’s their home too and that sometimes they may forget your boundaries will also help you keep your cool just in case someone does disturb you.
We’re all humans who think mostly of ourselves, it’s bound to happen that boundaries are forgotten, so remember not to be too harsh if that happens, just remind them of your work boundaries.
Take as many breaks as you need
Now is the time for you find out how you work most efficiently. You could be someone who takes breaks every 30 minutes. Or you could be someone who takes no breaks.
Whatever it is that you feel you need, take breaks when you need them and don’t feel guilty about it. This could be the first time you’re allowed to explore what your mind needs. You could become so much more productive and efficient by not having distractions at work or by learning to take more, shorter breaks to help you refocus and move.
When working from home you have the opportunity to drop all expectations. Try new things and see what works for you. Feeling guilty for needing more time to work or more breaks does not mean you’re not working as well, it just means you’re working in a way that allows you to deliver the highest quality work from you possible.
Let go of time restrictions
Suddenly you no longer have to take your breaks or lunch at a certain time so you have all the freedom to listen to your body.
Ask yourself: Do I need to move? Am I hungry? Am I craving to go outside? Am I feeling creative right now? What is it that I really need in this moment?
When you’re no longer being told when you have to do things you can tune into your intuition and your body to find out what you really need. Maybe it’s lunch at 3PM instead of noon.
Maybe it’s taking more time in the morning to eat or get outside or get ready.
Maybe it’s getting a project done faster because you don’t have extra hours to waste.
Start working and doing things that you need instead of how you’re being told by letting go of all time restrictions and judgments.
While you may no longer have co-workers around you to distract you, working from home can lead to a whole bunch of other distractions such as roommates, partners, kids, the TV, the fridge…
It can often be even more difficult to work from home and this is why it’s important to not only set up boundaries with others you may be sharing a space with but also with yourself.
Now you have all the time to check social media because there’s no chance of a boss looking over your shoulder. But that doesn’t mean that you should.
Take advantage of airplane mode of your phone, or better yet, put it across the room or in another room. Flipd is one app you can use for your phone to lock you out of social media and game apps on your phone so you can be focused on the task at hand.
News Feed Eradicator is a great plugin for Chrome that still allows you to check Facebook but eliminates all of the scrolling by replacing your newsfeed with a quote.
There are so many ways you can eliminate distractions, it may just require a lil’ bit of willpower to get to going.
I also consider food a distraction. I recommend keeping all snacks away from your workspace and eating meals in a different area so that when you’re working, you’re working and doing nothing else.
Tips for adjusting to working from home
Of all my working at home tips, my best is to give yourself the time to adjust. This can be a big adjustment, so don’t expect yourself to get the hang of it in just a couple of days. Is it possible to find a rhythm quickly? Absolutely. But if it doesn’t come as quickly as you want it to don’t be too hard on yourself, compare yourself to how others are adjusting or feel guilty.
None of that will help you and only hurt your mental health and productivity.
Creating a work from home routine
While a routine is not necessary, having a routine to use when getting started or to fall back on when things start going off track can be very helpful.
Personally I think having a morning routine that sets you up for your day is the most important but sometimes it’s even more important to listen to what your mind and body needs. Maybe one day you don’t need to move your body as much and just need to rest. Maybe somedays you work better in the morning or the afternoon.
Creating a routine will help you analyze what works and get you back on track but it’s not absolutely necessary.
Remember to keep a journal and notice how you feel, this will help you determine what is working best for you during your day and during your routine.
A routine could be as simple as setting working hours, to what time you break, what order you work on certain projects or do certain tasks. It’s completely up to you and now you have the freedom to design a routine that truly works for you and is not set by what some boss or CEO thinks is best.
I hope these tips for working at home are helpful and inspire you to create a healthy work environment that you can absolutely thrive in and be totally at bliss in.
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