Since so many of us are currently working from home, I thought I’d share some of my best work from home routine tips and tricks! When I first started working from home over a year ago, I loved it. Then a few months in I wasn’t quite loving it so much. I changed up my work from home routine and added some structure to my life, and that really helped. For those of you who are getting used to remote work for the foreseeable future, read on for all my best tips!
1. Set multiple alarms. You might not have to wake up as early as you used to in order to get to the office on time, but you should still set a regular schedule of waking up early. I am not a morning person, and I set multiple alarms so I don’t oversleep and I get my day started at around the same time every day (7:30am—which is early to me because I could easily sleep in until 9 or 10 if I let myself!). I set one daylight alarm on the other side of the room from our bed so I have to actually get up out of bed to turn it off. Then I set a couple of alarms on my phone to make sure I don’t fall back asleep!
2. Have a morning routine. Back when I used to work in an office, I never had a morning routine. I was too busy trying to run out the door and get to the office. Now that I work from home, I loooove my morning routine. I drink a big glass of cold water, make my coffee, get my diffuser going with some essential oils or light a candle, read a page out of The Daily Stoic, and then journal for a few minutes. Then I take a look at my calendar and map out my to-do’s for the day.
3. Get dressed. Maybe even put on some makeup. Just make sure you get out of those pajamas. I’m definitely not saying you need to get all dressed up (but if you want to, do it!). I like to change into comfortable but cute loungewear. I’ve been partnering with CALIA this year so I’ve basically been living in their athleisure pieces. The fabrics they use are amazing—so soft and buttery!
4. Have a dedicated workspace. Don’t work from your couch or your bed. It’s terrible for your back, and it’s not great for your productivity either. We live in a one-bedroom apartment so while I don’t have a proper home office in a separate room, I have a corner of our living room where my desk and workspace is. I invested in an ergonomic chair, as well as this desk riser that my desktop computer sits on that converts my desk to a standing desk. Now that Omied is working from home, we have him set up at one end of our dining table. We also got him this standing laptop stand so that he can switch from sitting to standing, and his company is shipping him his office chair because after a week of sitting in an IKEA chair, his back is aching (poor guy!).
5. Declutter your workspace. Keep your workspace clean and clear of clutter. I know for me personally, a messy space makes me feel stressed out.
6. Keep a task list and use your calendar to plan out your day. For any given workday, based on what I have going on that day and my availability, I block off times on my calendar to work on specific tasks. Those are the only tasks that I write down on my to-do list in my planner. If you are honest and give yourself a reasonable amount of time on your calendar to complete each task, you’ll get everything on your to-do list done and it feels amazing. The trick is to only focus on that one task during the allotted time on your calendar, which brings me to tip number seven.
7. Put your phone on airplane mode and/or in another room. Especially right now with all the constant pings, texts, and news alerts, you’ve got to put your phone away in order to be productive. Social media can be such a time suck too, and if my phone is near me it’s just too tempting for me to reach for it.
8. Use a time tracker system. I use the time tracker Clockify (Toggl is another good one) to help track how long I’m spending working on things and to keep me on task. This helps me maximize my efficiency during my work hours, and ensure I’m not getting off task or spending three hours on a blog post when I really should be busting it out in 1.5.
9. Take breaks. I schedule a couple of breaks on my calendar throughout the day. One is to make and eat lunch (I’ll usually listen to a podcast while I do this) and the second one is later in the afternoon for me to get up, go for a walk, pick up packages at my PO box, etc. Especially during these times, that short walk is usually my only time out of the apartment so it’s really important. Some people prefer to take multiple, shorter breaks throughout the day, so experiment with this and find out what works best for you.
10. Figure out when your high (and low) productivity periods are. Then maximize your most productive times, and try to find ways to hack your low energy/productivity times. For me, I’m very productive from 9am – 12pm. Then I have lunch, and my energy slowly starts to dwindle until I hit a bit of a wall around 3pm. So to maximize my productive hours, I schedule things on my calendar that take more brainpower, focus, and discipline. And then in the late afternoon to combat my energy slumps, I’ll take a break to go for a walk outside, take my DLMD liquid vitamins, drink green tea, and work on things that take less brainpower, like editing photos and videos, or getting through my inbox.
11. Don’t do household chores or things you wouldn’t normally do during your workday. If you’re not used to working from home, it can be really tempting to clean up the kitchen, do some laundry, etc. during your workday. Even though it seems like these little household jobs might take just a few minutes, you can easily get sucked into spending an hour of your workday doing chores.
12. Figure out the best way to communicate with your team. If your team isn’t really used to remote work, you’ve gotta set up systems. Zoom must be having a freaking field day right now because I think everyone is using them. I personally love Google Hangouts because it’s free and the link to join the meeting is easily clickable right there in the calendar invite. I’ve also recently started using Slack for communicating with everyone on my team (campaign manager, intern, virtual assistant) and it’s been great for cutting down on the number of emails I receive.
13. Exercise and stretch. Be sure to stretch it out while you’re taking breaks, and don’t skip out on your workouts! Get those endorphins going, especially during this stressful time, you’ll never regret getting your workout in. I’ve loved seeing how many free workout resources people are sharing. Barry’s did some IGTV workout videos, Peloton is doing a free 90-day trial, Blogilates has free pilates YouTube videos (those are always free), and CorePower Yoga is offering some free yoga videos.
14. Eat a healthy lunch. While eating a bowl of mac & cheese for lunch might sound like tempting comfort food, eating like crap while you’re working from home is going to make you feel like crap. I’ve been really into making lean breakfast protein bowls lately (that I eat around lunchtime) that include brown rice, sauteed kale or spinach, a fried egg, and a lean protein. Add some hot sauce and you’re good to go.
15. Get some noise-canceling headphones. Now that Omied is working from home too, and due to the fact that we live in a one-bedroom, noise-canceling headphones have been a lifesaver. That man has a lot of business phone calls! And I’ve been used to working from home by myself in total silence with some music in the background so it was really distracting at first. Being able to tune him out (no offense, honey) has been really helpful. These ones are a really great price on Amazon with awesome reviews.
16. Keep regular working hours. Even though you’re working from home, work-life balance is still important! Shut down your computer at a reasonable time in the evening when you normally would, and don’t fire that baby back up again until the morning.
Those are all my work from home routine tips! I’d love to hear about how you’re managing your new work from home situation and what’s been helping you.
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.