Living the Dream in my PJs
I’ve been working from home for about 6 months now, so I'm basically an expert on the topic of how to be successful whilst still in your pajamas. Therefore, I thought I would share some of my tips and tricks for staying motivated and successful while working a 9 to 5 from the comfort of my own home. Here’s the situation, I work full-time as the marketing manager for a large healthcare IT company, on nights and weekends I run my own creative agency focused on branding, graphic design, and photography, in between all of that I blog. I might be spread a little thin, but I must confess, I love it! Some days can be a little overwhelming with all that I'm tackling. I end up switching gears from corporate industry to self-employed, to witty, adorable bloggerette almost daily. If I’m organized, plan accordingly, and keep a list, I can pretty much keep a handle on all of it.
For the most part, these are just tips and tricks on how to be productive and stay productive. Whether you’re working from home or not, it’s a good idea to sit back and think about how you’re going about your days.
Working from home and establishing a routine has done a lot for my life. My creative side is thriving, which has a lot of benefits, and my house has never been this clean. Seriously, doing laundry on my lunch break is more revolutionary to my life than the invention of the Tide pod.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, working at a modern company that lets you work remotely, or just trying to get your life organized, here are some of my lessons learned, tips, tricks, and ideas for being successful while working from home.
Tips and Tricks for Working from Home
1. Pick up the house before going to bed each night.
A successful day from home starts the night before, believe it or not! It’s important to wake up and work in an organized, clean, inviting environment. When you’re working in an office, they have a service, each night that vacuums, empties the trash, and makes the office feel refreshed and clean. An at-home office environment shouldn’t be dissimilar in any way.
I tend to notice the difference in my productivity level during the day if I skip this step; it completely throws off my whole morning. Once you get used to waking up to a clean and kept space, you won’t be able to focus unless it’s clean and kept. My nightly routine includes fluffing the sofa pillows, folding the throw, picking up any dishes around the house, making sure the laundry is put away, putting the remotes in their place, charging my computer, making sure any papers are in the office area, wiping down the kitchen counters, and starting the dishwasher.
2. Develop and implement a daily routine.
For me, I wake up, do a little morning yoga (most days), make some coffee, unload the dishes, make the bed, put on some mascara, put on some real clothes (aka a BRA), turn on some Spotify, check my schedule for the day, and make my must-do to-do list, each and every day. Try to keep your days as consistent as possible, think back to life in an office. I’ve tried to implement the same routines working at home as I had in the office.
Back in the day, when I wasn’t working from home, I was part of the “lunch bunch”. We went to the kitchen at 12:30 pm every day, on the dot, had lunch, did some chit-chatting, and got ready for the second half of the day. I think that break in the middle of the day is important, especially when working from home. At about 1:00 pm every day, I stop what I’m doing, make lunch, sit out on the porch (if it’s not so hot I’ll die), and eat. After I finish eating, I come inside, clean up the mess from breakfast/lunch, do any dinner prepping, and then get back to work. Keeping consistent forces a break, gets me recharged and focused for the next half of the day.
3. Have a set-apart space to work.
An organized home office is crucial if you’re working from home. I know that sounds so dumb, and maybe so obvious, but you’d be surprised. So many people I talk to that are working from home, or thinking about working from home, complain about not being able to stay focused. My first question is always, “Do you have a home office?” 90% of the time they respond by saying, “Nah, I just work from my sofa and stuff.” The key to a successful day at home is to acknowledge the fact that you’re working and trying to make a living.
Create yourself a “working” space, keep it organized and functional. Make the space a space you want to work in, and can work in successfully. I have a great little office nook. I have a desk, a place for files, a huge chalkboard for notes, every kind of pen imaginable, my scratch notebook, my agenda, and post-its. Obviously, no office is complete without post-its! I have a comfy rolling chair, great lighting, some decent speakers, and something green. All of this makes me feel ready to work and able to stay focused and efficient.
Music is a huge part of keeping me focused during the day. I'm a big spotify fan, and love finding new stations. Do you have a favorite spotify station? Share it in the comments below!
4. Leave the house at least once a day.
Go check the mail, go to the grocery store, treat yourself to a lunch out occasionally, shop at Target instead of online at amazon, or head to a coffee shop instead of making mid-day coffee at home. I’m most guilty of not doing this, and on Thursday when I haven’t left the house in DAYSSSS, I can tell.
No one should stay in the same place without any social interaction for more than a couple of days. Seriously, you become a borderline recluse at that point. I’m fidgety, I’m bored, I’m annoyed, I want to turn on the TV, etc. OH! That’s another thing... stick to playlists or podcasts. Don’t turn on the TV. You can’t look at two screens at one time… well at least I can’t, but maybe your eyes can look in two different directions at once?
5. Meal plan and prep.
Obviously, I feel this is the most important, but hear me out. Working from home can be hard on the diet. There’s literally no one around. You could eat chips, dip, and Oreos for lunch, and there’s no soul in sight who would look at you judgingly. On Sunday, sit down and plan some things you want to eat for lunch and dinner for the week. I try to eat a lot of veggies; I mean A LOT. My lunches are basically variations of different roasted veggies or salads every day.
Roasted veggies are perfect for the work at home folks. You can prep the veggies on the weekend. Cut ‘um, slice ‘um, dice ‘um, and then put them in portioned containers. About 45 mins before you’re going to eat, turn the oven to 375, line a pan with parchment, toss the veggies in olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder. Roast for 25 to 45 minutes depending on the veggie, mixing them around at the halfway mark. If you’re not working at home, try roasting a big pan of veggies on Sunday. Portion them out into Tupperware, and enjoy them all week. Salads are always a great idea, and if you have enough toppings, they don’t get too boring. I keep my pantry filled with different toppings so it doesn’t feel like the same salad every day. That’s about it, I keep lunch basic.
Next up, dinner. The important thing in working from home is thinking about your dinners for the week. You can’t stop at the store after work on your way home and “pick something up”. There is no “on the way home”. I try to plan at least 4 dinners for the week. I like to pick up all the stuff I need and have it in the fridge ready to go.
On my shopping list, I have a section where I include my weekly menu. When I’m at the store, I’m thinking through everything for the week. I don’t use recipes that often to cook. If I'm using a recipe that week, I have it on the fridge or my bulletin board, ready to go. I normally prep everything during lunch or an afternoon break*. That way, it’s ready to go when I “get off work”. This is why it’s important to separate your workspace from you daily life space. If you’re working on the sofa, where do you go when work is “over”?
*Side-note: Don’t feel guilty about using this time. When I first started working from home I was working like 9 to 10 hour days without even realizing it. If you think about it, in an office you get an hour for lunch. Because eating alone takes 20 minutes or so, so you’ve got about 40 extra minutes throughout the day to use. It’s important to take at least 45 minutes during the work day as “break” time when you’re working from home. This time helps you keep you sane and stay focused. I tend to break my time up and use it to do laundry, vacuum, or prep for dinner.
I hope these tips help you, and after reading them you don’t think I’m some OCD freak. It seems oddly regimented, but it shouldn’t, it’s just setting a schedule for yourself. There’s no right or wrong way to work from home, just a more productive day vs less productive one. I'm not sure I’m 100% sold on this approach. I’m still figuring out some of the in’s and out’s, but this is what’s working at the moment.
I’d love to hear what you’re doing to help you stay motivated and organized throughout the day. Do you work from home? What’s your favorite part, and what do you do to stay organized and motivated? I’d love to see a pic of your workspace. Send me a snap, message me on insta or facebook, tweet it at me, or leave a comment below!