By Theresa Christine
Working from home is a complicated beast. At first, you think you’ve got it real good–sleeping til whenever, jammies at work, and no commute. But you’ll soon find there are days when you don’t leave the house, or interact with others at all, and you’ve lowered your standards and will go to the grocery store at lunchtime in pjs and Uggs (umm, I mean, what?). So how can you beat those work-from-home blues?
Create a schedule.
When I first started working from home, I slept in until 10 and immediately started working in my pajamas. Soon enough, I discovered this wasn’t a good situation for me. My productivity increased once I started treating my tiny desk in my room as a literal office. I now wake up at a certain time, change, and get ready for the day, just as I would if I were commuting somewhere. It’s more of a mental hurdle than anything, but it keeps me focused during work. Also, as my UPS delivery person can attest, I no longer answer the door at 3pm in my pjs. Everyone wins.
* Set your work time, set your play time. Boundaries, people!
When your office is home and home is your office, it’s easy and sometimes tempting to work around the clock. Just…no. No one wants that, least of all you. You deserve more in your life than your job, but you have to make that time for yourself! In creating my schedule (see above), I start at a certain time, and then cut myself off once the day is done. There will always be more to do, but there’s also a wonderful life to live, whether that means meeting friends for drinks, getting dinner, or staying at home and watching Hulu. Sure, work can get overwhelming, but just remind yourself that you are not your job–you’re you, and a lot more goes into making you happy than just work.
* Take a lunch break.
I take working lunches too often, so this is one yours truly needs to work more on. It’s nice to stop and take a break mid-day, even for 15 or 20 minutes. It usually centers me and makes it easier to work for the rest of the day. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you can even cook your lunch. A simple home-cooked meal is such a treat, and will energize you for the last part of the day.
* Pimp out your office.
Treat it right. Whether it’s an entire room or a small section of your bedroom (like mine), get yourself a nice desk, a cute paperweight, and a fun poster to look at when your mind wanders a bit. Be thankful that you don’t have to go into an office with obnoxious lighting, nosy co-workers, and air conditioning that requires you to wear 10 layers. You can litter your desk with pictures of your furry friend without judgment, and every single thing in your work area can be pink, if you want. The point is, it’s your space, and you’re going to be spending a lot of time there. So enjoy it!
* Change your scenery.
If you’re able to pick up and work from elsewhere, find a local spot to work from at least once a week. I’m a fan of heading to the library a few blocks from me, and I’m also known to frequent some coffee shops in my neighborhood. It’s totally possible to love working from home (I do!), but it’s nice to be surrounded by people and have human interactions. Change is good.
* Do things at night.
Remember the days when you’d return home from an exhausting shift and just want to veg out and watch Netflix? They’re a thing of the past. You’re less likely to be burnt out by the end of the night, and planning a fun evening always helps me power through a workday. Get out and meet people for drinks, see a movie, or go to a concert. Since you’re saving money (no commute and no need to buy lunch out each day), you can have a little more fun in the evenings. Bring on the happy hour!
* Get outside.
Every day. Even if it’s just a walk around the block, do not ever spend an entire day inside looking at your computer. On days when I plan on spending the evening in relaxing, I still make sure to take a 30-60 minute walk through my neighborhood. I get some fresh air, listen to some jams, and get some good thinking time in.
* Do not let FOMO affect you.
FOMO (fear of missing out) has been a big challenge for me. There are some days I’ll go for a run, but the rest of my time is spent at home working or at home unwinding. I always end up thinking, “I should be going out right now.” If you work from home, you need to be seriously in tune with your mental state. If you’re feeling tired and would appreciate a night in, you should have one, no guilt involved. If you manage to set a schedule for yourself and stick to it, even on the nights you stay in, you’ll feel fulfilled and happy.
There’s no reason you can’t have the best of both worlds of working from home and being productive! Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll find yourself happily working away sooner than you thought! Post your home office pics to our facebook, or #Hearthomeoffice to instagram.