I’ll say it over and over again: I absolutely despise working from home. I’m an ENTJ fire sign who thrives in groups and does my best work when surrounded by my competition… haha, I mean my coworkers. But I have to get the heck over it and learn to love all this time at home while we’re doing it. Lately, I’ve been taking advantage of all the perks that come with working remotely and finding ways to create healthier habits at home. Adding these simple habits into my routine has made a major difference in how confident and happy I feel sitting at my desk all day long.
1. Eating breakfast after 11am
If you practice intermittent fasting, you’ll understand this concept well. While this definitely encourages me to enjoy my morning beverage and drink some extra water, this is more about how it impacts the rest of my day rather than the health benefits. I notice a major difference in how happy and productive I am when I can take a later lunch, but when I eat breakfast at 8 or 9 in the morning, I’m starving at noon. So by waiting a little bit to eat breakfast, I prolong when I need to eat lunch. This helps me schedule my day better, and I also have less of an urge to snack around 4pm.
2. Keeping my desk clean
Pre-WFH life, my “desk” was my vanity. I worked from home twice a week, but I spent those days in bed or at coffee shops. I never needed a clear desk in my home because all of my work was done in the office. Well, that obviously changed. I rearranged my apartment, purchased a comfortable desk chair, and made it a point to keep my desk clear. This has made a major difference in my productivity. I get way more done when I’m sitting down at a desk versus in bed, but I’d often just stay in bed because my desk was filled with makeup and papers and whatever else I accumulated the days prior.
3. Set timers
I have a Google home, and I absolutely swear by it for setting timers throughout my day. I’ll set a timer for 30 minutes and tell myself to write as much as I can in 30 minutes, and then I’ll stop to do a different task. Sometimes, I’ll set an alarm for a specific time to remind myself to take lunch. This is something that was a little bit harder to do in an open-concept office, so I’m taking full advantage while I’m working remotely. It helps keep my productivity at a 10, even when I have a cabinet full of snacks and a TV with Netflix queued up within 5 ft. of me.
4. Taking a lunch break—and actually leaving my home
I used to never take a lunch break for things other than doctor’s appointments and random one-off lunch dates with friends who were in town (or the two times in 2019 that I met the Jonas Brothers and Sophie Turner on the street—no lunch break will ever top those). I would rather grab my lunch and work through it, or at the very least, eat my lunch in front of my computer. Now that I’m at home all day long, I really make it a point to take my lunch break and use it to its full capacity. I’ll go for a walk or use it to run errands or go to the grocery store. Anything that gets me out of my house, or even just out of my desk chair, is worthwhile to me. I find that I’m more motivated and ready to get back to work afterward too.
5. Talking to my coworkers
I have a habit to disassociate during times of stress and anxiety, folding into myself rather than seeking solace and joy through my loved ones. But I’ve made it a habit to check in with people, make sure I’m talking throughout the day, and staying in touch as much as I can, especially at work. It provides that social aspect I love about an office even while I’m at home. I make sure to chime in to conversations, ask about people’s weekends, and more. It adds a bit of normalcy to our otherwise very odd lives right now.
6. Organize my desktop
Looking at 500 screenshots and files on my desktop all day long makes me want to close my computer and do nothing even remotely close to work. At the beginning of every workday, I go through my desktop and delete what doesn’t need to be there and organize everything else into their proper folders. I love doing this in the morning because it often gives me reminders of things I need to do and gets me started for the day; however, this could be a great task to save for your final minutes of the workday too.
7. Break down tasks into small chunks
If you often feel like you don’t accomplish anything during the day, it’s possibly because you’re looking at the big picture of all of your tasks. Sometimes, sitting down to do something feels unconquerable. But since work-from-home, I give myself a little pep talk and break big projects into as many small tasks as possible. I’ll go as far as to write an item on my to-do list for every single paragraph in an article (think Enneagram articles, perhaps). Write the intro? Check. Write paragraph #1? Check. Add links? Check. It seems simple, but it reminds me at the end of the day that I was getting things done versus feeling like a failure because I didn’t complete a 10-hour project all in one day.
8. Keep my phone on another side of the room
If my phone is next to me, I’m scrolling. There’s just no way around it. So when I know that I need to get a task done without any distractions, I put my phone on the other side of the room (or better yet, a different room; however, I live in a studio apartment so that doesn’t actually exist). Do I miss texts from my best friends about the latest tea of the day? Literally always, but it ends up making me a better friend because I can actually give them my undivided attention later on when I’m allowing myself to actually indulge in my phone. If you get sucked into Tik Tok or Twitter (my weakness) for hours on end, try this. I’ve also played around with turning off my wifi when I’m doing a task that doesn’t require it, like writing an article or editing photos.
9. Change my environment
I get really bored in my space. Heck, I have rearranged my apartment three times during quarantine. To keep myself inspired, I constantly have to change aspects of my environment to give me a boost. Some days this looks like working in bed first thing on Friday morning or allowing myself to write on the couch instead of my desk. Other times this means moving my desk into my closet for one single day because I can’t bear to look at the same white wall all day long. Any way that I can get myself into a different headspace allows me to be significantly more creative. (And it obviously works because you’re reading this totally-original-amazing-never-been-done-before article right now!)
10. Make plans for the evening
One of the perks of working in an office is the feeling that your day is over and you have a whole night ahead of you when you leave. I’ve found myself disregarding that entire principle for WFH, allowing myself the whole night to work instead of trying to finish something so I can relax. Lately, I’ve made it a habit to plan something for myself every night. Watching a movie with friends, laying on the couch with a new book, baking something delicious, going for a long walk—I’ve found having something to look forward to, even the simplest of things, gets me out of the mindset that I have all night to complete a task.