When I first started working from home in 2018, I needed a space to work and it just so happened that we had an extra bedroom upstairs. I decided to turn this room into my office by moving our old, small couch from a past apartment along one wall, buying a desk (I found this amazing real wood mid century desk on Wayfair. It’s even prettier in person and I get compliments all the time!) and a Billy bookcase from Ikea. To decorate the bookcase, I used some business books, pictures of our family, some extra cameras, and knick knacks and then I loaded and organized all of my other camera equipment into the small clothes closet. For the finishing touches, I added plants to the windowsill along with hanging some art on the wall and suddenly it felt like I had a space to call my own.
This is my favorite spot in our house to just sit down and focus. It feels like MY space, not a space I have to share, and I love that I can not only close myself in and turn on my music when I feel distracted, but also that I can close the door at the end of a long day and leave work inside the office.
For me, this means waking up around 7:30-8:00 am, getting ready for my day (usually just changing into leggings, a soft tee, and my favorite sweater!), making breakfast and coffee for my husband and I, and then heading upstairs to start work. Ideally I will also take a few breaks throughout my day, which I talk about below, and take an hour for lunch. I also like the idea of going on a walk every day (but this doesn’t always happen). The point is, imagine your ideal, productive work day and strive to make that your reality! A lot of times things pop up in the middle of the day that don’t really allow me to stick to my schedule, but my schedule is always at the base of my day and whenever I can, I stick to it.
Batch working is a game changer. I love it. You know when you start a task and you kind of just get sucked in? Well if I’m not batching my work, I will usually start a task but then get intercepted by another priority and immediately have to switch off of it, even when I don’t want to! That’s why batch working has become so important for me. I talked about this a little bit in my January 2020 Recap but basically this means that I schedule work of the same kind for the same time. When you do this, you keep yourself from having to reset every time you move to a new task because you’re essentially spending a good chunk of your day on the the same task and not switching back and forth. When you batch work, you eliminate distractions, you’re more likely to finish tasks quickly, and are more efficient during your work day.
What helps you get in the zone? When I get distracted or just plain don’t feel like working, the best thing for me to do is grab a drink (usually a mug of coffee and a cup of water) shut my door, put on my big noise-cancelling headphones, and just dig in. And on that note….
Another thing that helps me be less distracted is to take breaks. You heard that right! It sounds counter-productive but it’s actually the opposite. There is proven research that taking a break every 50 minutes for 17 minutes, makes you work more efficiently. I really feel like this helps me because I know if I have to do a task that I’m not particularly enjoying, I just tell myself, only __ more minutes and I can take a break. It helps me be less distracted mid-task and helps me work until my time is up. However, I know this can depend on the type of work that you do. My husband is a software engineer and he cannot implement this system into his schedule because he will literally forget where he left off in his thousands of lines of code. So do what’s best for you and get creative if you have to, but don’t underestimate the power of squeezing in a good break to refresh your mind!
Seriously. Work standing up, stretch during a break, or schedule in a walk. Most of my friends sit all day just like I do. This is so bad for our bodies! I have two pups so taking a walk with them is always fun for them and relaxing for me. Sometimes if I’m having a bad day, a walk is absolutely necessary. My husband will usually join me and it’s a great time to vent and just talk things out.
That’s it! Those are the top 5 things I do/have done to make this whole working-from-home thing just a little bit sweeter. Thanks for reading!