Working from Home: Tips for Thriving
Hi friends! As many of you find yourselves in the transition to work from home in this weird COVID-19 season, I wanted to offer up a few things I’ve learned in my working remote experience. I’ve been working from home since last July, and I’m gonna be honest, as an extrovert I was worried I might hate it. However, I was pleasantly delighted to find how lovely it is. Plus, I'm honestly able to get more work done than I was able to working in the office.
I would like to make the disclaimer that I fought the feeling of disconnectedness or loneliness the past few months by going out frequently, spacing out my errands so I had something to do outside the home at least every other day. I tried to schedule times to hang out with friends after work as much as possible and tried to work from coffee shops or the library at least once a week. This was all prior to COVID-19. Once social distancing recommendations hit, I knew it was going to be hard not to feel frustrated and stir-crazy. But, I’ve been trying to focus on thinking about the sweet, slower days of working-from-home that I did have prior to all of this.
This is a unique time for all of us, even for those of us who might have a little more practice with staying home for work. We’re all learning!
This is just a glimpse into a few tips I find help me feel more joyful throughout my work day at home - perhaps you’ll find a thing or two you might enjoy as well!
I know it's so easy to stay in PJs all day long, and don't get me wrong, it is still nice to have a bummy day every once in a while. But, putting on some makeup, doing my hair, and putting on something cute (but comfy!), always makes me feel more awake and confident. Plus, you'll always seem semi-professional when you get those impromptu zoom calls from your boss.
One of the best perks of working from home is no commute! I love having that extra time in the morning to take things a bit slower. I like to take my sweet time preparing a really great matcha latte or a foamy London Fog. I've found that coffee makes me feel really jittery, and in these anxiety-prone times, I don't really need anything that will make me feel more stressed. Teas still give me a little caffeine boost without the jitters.
I like to use this matcha mix, and I especially love it with soy milk. I usually just follow the instructions on the matcha tin, and I throw in about half a teaspoon of sugar for some sweetness.
For a yummy London Fog, I steep a bag of Twinnings Early Grey tea. Meanwhile, I heat up some milk and froth it. I use the frother attached to our Ninja coffee maker but I've used this frother from Amazon, and it also works really well!
I pour about 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract and a drizzle of honey into the tea. Top it off with the frothed milk, and voilà! - one delicious cup of tea.
3. Make an incredible breakfast.
Two words: AVO TOAST. Yes, that's a daily possibility now! Long gone are the days or running out the door with a CLIF bar. I love making avocado toast with a scrambled egg, topped with some Trader Joes Everything but the Bagel Seasoning and a side of bacon. Another breakfast staple of mine is a bowl of honey greek yogurt with granola, blueberries, and strawberries. Eating a larger, and slower breakfast curbs my snack cravings before lunch and keeps me from eating too heavy of a lunch that leads to the post-lunch sleepies.
4. Knock out emails first.
This is what works best for me. I like to start the day by catching up and answering emails from the day before. It eases my mind into work mode and helps me keep a consistent rhythm, so I know I'll never go too long with unanswered emails.
Y'all, I have NO idea what I would do without my planner. I've always kept one. I don't keep an hourly schedule because my work involves a high need for flexibility, but I do keep a task list for each day in the week. I keep it next to me every time I have a meeting, so I can schedule out upcoming projects and deadlines as they're presented. It will be so much easier to get distracted when you're home, but keeping an organized to-do list helps keep things on track.
To me, the design of my planner is really important (both aesthetically and how it's laid out). Anthropologie and Paper Source are usually where I shop for my planners each year.
I've seen most people recommend sticking to your desk and not bringing your work around to other areas in your home. However, since I do a lot of creative work, I actually really enjoy switching things up. I stick to my desk when I do more routine work. When I do more creative work (designing graphics, planning a newsletter layout), I often move over to my kitchen table or even my couch! There's something about the swap in background that allows my mind to open up more creatively.
Another perk of working from home is that you can actually decorate your work space however you'd like - no grey cubicles here! Decorate with things that inspire you, things that make you smile. But don't feel like you have to stick to the layout you originally set up. As someone so motivated by aesthetics, I love being able to arrange and rearrange my space as much as I’d like to. We just switched around all our furniture this week, and already it's made a huge difference! It feels like I'm in a whole new "office."
It doesn't have to be as drastic as a full furniture move - a simple swap of the pictures in your frames can feel like a refresh.
*NOT ON THE JOB* But if you're feeling particularly exhausted one day, take advantage of that lunch break time and proximity of your bed! Sometimes I'll set a 10 minute timer to simply lay flat and rest my eyes. When you spend so much time on your computer, a few minutes of shut-eye will help alleviate that eye strain.
I'd also recommend investing in some blue light filtering glasses. Felix Gray and Warby Parker both make some great ones with no color alteration (super important for any of you who work in creative fields like photography, videography, or graphic design where color matter so much).
This one makes a huge difference! Sometimes I forget to open up the blinds or curtains in the morning, but I usually try to keep them open at least a few hours every day. My puppy loves it, and I certainly do as well! It keeps me from feeling trapped. Allowing that little bit of sunshine inside really emotionally (and literally) brightens my day!
9. Stay connected to coworkers.
Whether it's a quick "Good morning!" or an afternoon check-in, it's important we know we're not in this alone. Knowing others are in the same boat right now offers an extra level of teamwork, and it keeps us motivated to keep going. With little human interaction outside the home, I really encourage you to keep up with the relationships you already have (many of those will be with your coworkers!).
10. Stick to off-the-clock boundaries.
Do not set a precedent of responding to work emails or texts outside of your scheduled work day. If you would not normally be in the office at that time, do not keep working. Obviously, this does not apply to everyone all the time. We will all have the occasional work emergency that we need to jump into. But, it's so important to not let work completely take over in this season. Even though we may have nowhere else to be right now, rest and family time should still have its space.
Friends, we're gonna get through this! Remember that everyone is different, so what works for me might not be the best game plan for you. Take it one day at a time, and who knows, you might just find you love the working from home life after all!