With the drastic shift to remote work in the past few months, we’re all struggling to find smart ways to stay on top of things from home. Even before the start of the viral pandemic, working from home was on the rise, with an incredible growth of 91 percent in the past decade. What does this tell us? Even if your home office is only temporary, there’s a good chance that you’ll be spending more of your working hours at home in the coming years, which can be a good thing and a bad thing.
On the good side, you’ll probably be a lot more content, since we know that remote workers tend to be happier than their office-bound counterparts. Studies even show that they’re more productive and tend to keep their jobs for longer than onsite employees. The lack of commute, minimal dress code (or, ideally, none at all) and access to all the comforts of home make working from home a particular kind of pleasant.
On the other hand, though, remote work can be an extreme challenge, especially for those of us who struggle without rigid routines. The act of waking up, pouring yourself a cup of coffee and sitting down at your desk in the next room just doesn’t get you in the same mindset as your normal morning routine might. Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to ensure that what you do before work serves you well, no matter if you’re hitting the freeway or your home office.
Get Up at the Same Time Every Day
Re-implementing a routine is one of the most crucial components of success when you’re kicked out of your normal one. Even though you have no commute and will more than likely spend less time than usual getting ready, don’t fall into the habit of oversleeping or undersleeping. Set your alarm for the same time every day and don’t press snooze!
Shower and Brush Your Teeth
We know what some of you might be thinking: What’s the point of showering if no one is even going to see you? In truth, though, taking a morning shower, doing your hair and brushing your teeth will help you feel more confident and ready for a full day of distraction-free work. It will also prevent you from breakouts and dandruff. If you have to wait until your lunch break to shower each day, that’s OK — just keep it in your routine.
Practice Self-Improvement While You Work
One of the great things about remote work is that you can do stuff you wouldn’t normally do in the office, like use your at-home teeth whitening kit or let your hair air-dry while you plug away at your desk. Wear a face mask to brighten your complexion, wrap your hair in curlers, let your nails dry during a long meeting. As long as it doesn’t distract you from your work in any way, there’s no reason not to multitask.
Dress Comfortably, But Not in Lounge Wear
A key part of readying yourself for a day of working from home is getting dressed. You want to be comfortable to the point where your clothes don’t distract you, but not so comfortable you’re tempted to take a nap or flip on the TV. Nicely tailored athleisure pants or elastic-waist work slacks? Yes. Sweatpants or pajamas? No. You don’t have to spend nearly as much time or money on work clothes when you work mostly from home, but that doesn’t mean you should just throw on whatever’s around. Take the time to put together comfy outfits that keep you alert each morning.
Light an Energizing Candle and Play Music
Your house, your rules! Seriously, with no one else around but you and maybe your family, pets and roommates, you can get away with some of the things that you probably wouldn’t in the office. Lighting a mood-lifting (but not calming or sleep-inducing) candle and listening to soft music (but nothing that will distract you from your work) can help ensure that your home office feels like a sanctuary where you actually want to spend time. The key is to make it a place of productivity and focus, not one that makes you feel like you want to go back to bed.
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Another great thing about the work from home life is that you’ll have more free time in the morning for things like making and eating a healthy breakfast. No more granola bars in traffic or vending machine Pop-Tarts (not that there’s anything wrong with those, of course). And your healthy WFH breakfast doesn’t have to be complicated, either — single-serving oatmeal, some fresh fruit or a cup of yogurt is way more convenient at home than it is in the office. You might also consider meal-prepping for breakfast with things like breakfast egg muffins you can grab from the fridge each morning.
Do Not Start Work Until You Log In
Just because you’re home doesn’t mean the bathroom or bed is a good place to check your emails or respond to direct messages. As a remote worker, you need to set boundaries, quite literally. Work from your designated workspace and don’t be tempted to spend your off time — especially the half hour or so you have between waking up and logging on — on anything work-related, if possible. Work starts when you sit down at your desk to work.
Do What Works for You
One of the unique things about transitioning to mostly working from home is that you get to set many of the rules. You work where you want to work, wearing what you want to wear. And that can be a beautiful thing for many of us, as long as it doesn’t come at the compromise of productivity! So try your best to strike a balance between setting strict rules and bending the work norms in a way that serves you. In time, your work from home morning routine will set you up for a day of remote work in your own way.