While working from home has amazing perks — your freedom being key — it can be really challenging to get into the groove of things, especially if you are just starting out.
How can you be more productive while working remotely? Keeping a routine is central to accomplishing your work effectively and on time.
Regardless of the type of work you do, whether it’s running a business, kicking off a startup venture, or working in a creative field like writing or design, everyone has a schedule they need to adhere to.
You might think having a routine contradicts your work-from-home lifestyle, but it doesn’t. In fact, it enhances it, big time. When you stick to a routine the same way you would as if you were headed into an office every day, your to-do list will feel like a breeze instead of a scrambled mess.
Here are my top 9 work-from-home tips for remote workers looking to transform their so-so workdays into a consistently successful work-from-home lifestyle.
1. I Wake Up Early, Every Day
Set your alarm for the same time every morning, and get up the first time it goes off. If you’re an early bird who works best in the quiet, wee hours of the morning (somewhere between 3:45 and 5 AM), this is prime time for completing your most dreaded or time-consuming task of the day before the sun comes up.
If that sounds too brutal and somewhere between 6 and 8 AM is more your style, that’s completely fine. The point is to get in the habit of waking up at the same time every day you need to get work done. Doing this preps your mind to tackle the day and adds consistency to your schedule.
2. I Get Ready, Every Day
When you look good, you feel good. Everything else falls into place, and you perform better.
I’ll admit, to say I haven’t stayed in my pajamas and worked an entire day in them wouldn’t be true. We have to take advantage of that reality when working from home from time to time, right?
However, those are what I refer to as “exception days,” where you’re lagging more than normal from a long weekend spent traveling or simply being unusually busy. On most other days, getting ready is crucial to staying on your A-game. And honestly, leggings, a nice tee shirt, and minimal makeup, if you wear it, counts as “getting ready” and does the trick pretty well.
But on days where I have interviews to conduct or need to stay focused on long conference calls, I’ll get dressed up the way I would if I were giving an in-person presentation. This often looks like a blazer, jeans, heels and lipstick for me, but wearing whatever makes you feel the most professional and confident is what matters.
3. I Have Healthy Snacks on Hand, Always
When you’re working from home, it’s tempting to take one too many breaks to snack a bit. You should be snacking throughout the day, and often, to keep your mind sharp and your body happy, but they have to be healthy snacks.
You know that guilty (or sick) feeling you get after eating junk food? Don’t let that happen during the workday. Eating healthy throughout the day guarantees you will feel good about yourself and the work you are producing.
Having grabbable snacks is the key to this one because it saves a lot of time. One of my favorites is protein bites in the fridge (rolled oats, peanut butter, flax seed, dark chocolate, bananas). Some great options to keep in your pantry are almonds, cranberries and Larabars.
4. I Create An Office Space
Whether you have a home office or not doesn’t really matter. As long as you have a dedicated space that’s clean, organized and equipped with your work essentials, that’s all you need to stay focused and on-task.
I use various spots in my home (home-office, kitchen table and outdoor patio) because I get stir-crazy easily, so for me, switching around a bit makes a big difference in inspiring more creativity.
But again, the key here is to have a space or two in your house that makes you feel efficient.
5. I Work Out of a Different Space One Day A Week
This one looks a little different for everybody, but I find it extremely helpful to work a few days out of the week from a coffee shop or co-working space. Different spaces provide inspiration that my home isn’t able to.
I gain more energy, motivation, and creativity being around different types of people, sounds and places throughout the week because that’s what works for me, as a writer.
For someone working in tech, accounting or something a little more rigid, staying in one spot might work better.
6. I Schedule In-Person Meetings and Lunches
If you work remotely, you know how lonely it can get. Sometimes your only interaction with other humans is with the barista at your local coffee shop. Getting out into the fresh air is crucial for staying sane when you’re holed up all day like a hermit, but what really makes a difference in your overall happiness is face-to-face communication with people.
Schedule in-person meetings if you can instead of having them over the phone or Skype. I conduct 100 percent of my freelance business and work with clients all over the U.S., which means in-person meetings aren’t possible for me. So what I do in place of that is schedule lunches with friends. You’re going to be taking snack and lunch breaks anyways — why not do so with a friend? Just remember to keep it somewhat short (no longer than an hour) and hold yourself accountable for an end time.
7. I Work Out, Every Day
This one aligns with having healthy snacks on deck. Working out relieves stress, redirects your mind to a positive place and keeps you energized and feeling great long after your workout.
On days where it seems next to impossible to fit in a workout, I’ll do a quick 10-minute workout in my living room.
If you don’t already have an established workout routine, you can always start small. Walking for 30 minutes each day can be a great midday mind break, and it will make you feel better for the remainder of the day.
8. I Make Room In My Calendar For One Social Outing Per Week
In addition to meeting up with colleagues or friends once a week for meetings and lunches, you should also schedule one social outing or activity every week. This really helps with the isolation factor of working remotely, and it’s healthy to mix in some fun every week to keep your life balanced.
It doesn’t have to be extraordinary or adventurous — just something you can enjoy for a few hours with other people.That might mean going on a bike ride with your spouse, taking your kids to a park to share a picnic dinner, or meeting up with friends for cocktails.
This gives you something to look forward to as you’re pushing through your workload.
9. I Check In With Myself At The End of The Day
Sit down at the end of the workday and take 10 minutes to review what you accomplished each day. Are you proud of what you’ve done? Or do you feel like you procrastinated too much and could have checked more off your list?
If you feel good about the amount of things you completed, you’ve done everything right. If you don’t, you’ve gotten off track somewhere. Identify your unproductive habits and correct them. This will allow you to stay ahead of schedule and will make you feel amazing by the day’s end.
Pro tip: Unless you work in social media, delete your social media apps for most of the week so you aren’t tempted to check your notifications. We are so used to checking our other feeds that we don’t even realize how often we do it, and it’s a huge time-suck that does nothing to enhance our minds.
Social media apps should be treated like candy — indulge every so often, but not every day.
By Ashley Alt
Ashley is a creative writer specializing on topics all self-driven women can relate to. She is known for her fashion forward sense of style, obsession with healthy snacking and honest life advice. Her dream of living in NYC will become reality when her toddler goes to college. You can find her at https://www.ashleyalt.com/.