Working from home has its perks.
But it can be difficult to bring your full self to work when “the office” is your kitchen table. It can also be a struggle to completely remove yourself from work when your home life starts calling.
Aligning your body and mind for working from home will help you fully check in and out of work. These 7 tips (plus a bonus one!) can help you draw the line between work and home, helping you stay happy, healthy, and productive.
#1 Get ready for the day like you are going into work.
A wonderful benefit of working from home is not having to commute into the workplace. Though this perk may give you more free time in the morning, it isn’t an excuse to sleep in, roll out of bed, then sit at your computer in your pajamas.
Remember that you are going into work, just not physically. Slacking on your get-ready routine can fool your brain into thinking it’s the weekend. This can lower your motivation for the day, affecting your productivity.
Prepare your brain and body for the workday ahead by taking a shower, combing your hair, and getting fully dressed in the morning. Wearing casual, comfy clothing (like pajamas) is welcomed while working from home, so long as you change out of the outfit you wore to bed!
#2 Create a home-to-work ‘commute’.
Removing the daily commute to a physical workplace has many benefits, including increasing free time and reducing your carbon footprint. However, the commute signifies the transition from home life to work life and provides you with time to prepare your mind for the day ahead. Not having this transitional time can leave you feeling overwhelmed when starting your workday.
Since working from home doesn’t require a commute, you are left with free time to create your own transition from home to work. To do this, spare some time after you finish getting ready to sit outside with a cup of coffee or take a short walk. Use this ‘commute’ time to think about your workload and prepare yourself for the tasks ahead of you—pack your figurative briefcase.
#3 Have a designated workspace.
Getting ready for and ‘commuting’ into work wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t have a designated workspace to unpack your figurative briefcase. As comfortable as your bed probably is and as lonely as your couch may look, these are not the best places to work.
Working from bed or on a couch blurs the line between work and relaxation, making these sacred spaces lose value as you begin to associate them with work. Furthermore, these cozy furnishings don’t support good posture, which can lead to long-term health problems.
If you do not have a home office or desk, a healthy workspace could be at your kitchen table or patio table, sitting in a sturdy chair. Sitting upright at a table improves your attention, increases energy, and promotes productivity. Try keeping this space tidy to further improve motivation!
#4 Make a break schedule—and stick to it.
Your daily to-do list may be a daunting, never-ending scroll, but fitting in breaks between tasks will help segment your day, improving motivation and well-being. Always be intentional with scheduling your breaks; if you wait for a natural ebb in work to take a quick break, that time may never come.
Consider doing a short workout routine during a break, or going for a brisk walk outside. These activities will encourage you to adhere to your break schedule, while completely removing yourself from work for a short period of time.
Breaks while working from home will likely not look the same as breaks in the office, and they probably won’t be at the same times. Explore taking breaks at different times during the day to find a schedule that works best for you.
#5 Always eat lunch and stay hydrated.
A beautiful element of working from home is the convenient access to food at any time of day. A not so pretty consequence of this: all-day snacking on food. Snacking isn’t a bad thing, but overindulging on junk food can be!
To combat the workplace munchies, try packing yourself a healthy lunch the day prior—like you would if you were working in office—or plan what you will make for lunch in the morning. This will encourage you to wait for lunch to eat. If you prefer snacking throughout the day, stock your pantry and fridge with healthy food options such as fruits and vegetables.
As always, be sure to take in water and stay hydrated. Fill up a water bottle and keep it with you in your workspace. Staying hydrated and eating healthy improves your happiness and ability to focus.
#6 Determine a clock-out time to avoid overworking.
After a long day of working from home, it is essential to ‘commute’ back home, just like you did when starting the day. Do not be afraid to set a specific time to clock-out, and resist the urge to stay late to reply to one “last” email—doing so is a slippery slope into working another hour or two.
When your clock-out time comes, take an opportunity to pack up your figurative briefcase again—gather your thoughts and plans for tomorrow. ‘Commute’ back home by changing into a pair of sweatpants, taking a short walk, or beginning to plan for dinner. The goal of your ‘commute’ home is to disengage yourself with work to fully immerse yourself in your home life.
#7 Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
Balancing work and home life while never leaving your house can be difficult. ‘Commuting’ into and from work each day aids in differentiating between work and home. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule enables successful routine ‘commutes’.
Fluctuating your sleep schedule by sporadically staying up late or sleeping in causes grogginess and displaced energy throughout the day. If your first conference call isn’t until midmorning, resist the urge to sleep in. Instead, wake when you normally would and use the extra time to take a longer ‘commute’ into work. Spend more time eating breakfast, reading a book, or working out.
If a nap is absolutely necessary (and sometimes they are), aim for a timed 20-minute power nap to rest your body and mind.
Bonus Tip: #8 Involve family members in your working from home routines.
It can be even more difficult to balance life and work when you have dependents at home with you. Things like adhering to a break schedule or remembering to eat a healthy lunch might be nearly impossible when you have children to care for.
Involving family members in the activities described in tips 1-7 will help you develop a shared routine and set boundaries between your home and work lives. Challenges that require a give-and-take solution will naturally present themselves during your workday—take note of these obstacles and stay on top of them by proactively incorporating them into your daily schedule.
11 Self-Care Tips for Working From Home – Elizabeth Millard, Everyday Health
13 Ways to Practice Self-Care When Working From Home – Sharon Feiereisen, Business Insider