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Career

How I Work From Home and Keep my Sanity

I've been working from home for over 4 years now. So let me share my top tips with you, so you can be productive, creative and keep your sanity, working from home!

My work from home journey started over 4 years ago, so I’ve had some time to get adjusted to self-motivating, staying focused, and being productive. But I know a lot of you were thrown into a work from home situation for the first time due to covid.

Being able to work from home (or having the freedom to work from anywhere in the world is amazing.) However, working from your kitchen table takes discipline. It’s much harder to be productive all day when what you really want to do is watch one more episode on Netflix, take a walk, or just scroll through Tiktok videos.

It takes a level of self-discipline to be able to work from home.

Pro Tip: If you’re not working but you’re wondering how you can get online right now and land a few clients, check out a blog I did recently about 101 services you can offer as a Virtual Assistant. It’ll help you understand what’s available out there and who’s in need of virtual assistants.

As for working from home, here are my tips for success.

Step one for those just starting to work from home is: Find your morning routine and stick with it.

My days start late. I’ve never been a morning person nor do I really plan on becoming one. I usually set an alarm for around 9:00AM and start every morning with meditation. Mindfulness and meditation are a great way to start the workday with a fresh mind.

Then it’s off to workout, shower and make my coffee and usually I’ll journal while I drink coffee or at least while it’s brewing.

A morning routine is really important to me, I keep up this morning routine whether I’m home or on the road. I like to start my day by clearing my head and moving my body. I know it makes a big difference when you’re working from home.

When I first started working from home, my morning routine consisted of rolling out of bed, putting the coffee on and immediately sitting down in front of my laptop. That left me feeling like everyday I went from staring at a laptop screen, to staring at a TV, to going to bed. Instead, I try to start my days with movement, journaling, and sometimes just a slow coffee with a book before I jump into work.

Step two for my work from home newbies is: Plan your day

I’m a BIG believer in a to-do list. (I’m the type of person who puts things they’ve already done throughout the day on their to do list just to have another thing to cross off) When it comes to my to do list, I use an app called Todoist. There’s also a desktop version which I keep open ALL day while I’m working.

Planning your day helps you know what needs to happen and when. With Todoist you can label things by project and by their priority. I love this because it helps me keep track of what needs to happen now, and what can wait. It also uses a Smart Schedule to help you figure out when you have time to reschedule things.

When you’re working from home, you have to be your own motivator. You’re the boss. You’re the cheerleader. Even if your boss is messaging you on Skype 20 hours a day, you’re still the one who has to motivate yourself to get things done. That’s where Todoist (or however you choose to keep a to do list) comes in handy.

Step three: Keep it distraction free

Your workspace when you’re working from home needs to be distraction free. And a lot of times that means you need to go where your family or spouse or roommates aren’t. If you’re always being pulled into their conversation or the show they're watching or the vacuum cleaner running, then you are not going to be getting good work done and you’re going to give up on your self motivation.

I love to work at a table or desk, but when my family is all around me asking me questions, talking to me or each other and watching TV, I can’t get anything done… so I have to go downstairs and sit on my bed or the floor and use my desk as a bed.

Learn from me, make sure you have somewhere distraction free to work. (because oftentimes you family or roommates seem to forget that you’re not just scrolling through Facebook all day… You’re actually working… but to them it’s scrolling through Facebook so they chat to you, ask questions, vacuum right when you’re about to hop on a meeting you’ve told them about 6 times…)

Step four for my new work from home friends: Move your body

Keep your blood flowing. I start every morning with a workout but I also take a pause at some point during the day and I get outside. I will usually go for a run or walk the dog, depending on whether or not I have a dog at present… if I don’t then it’s just a run…

Taking a break in your workday to stretch your body and get some fresh air can help to rejuvenate you and help you get back to work with a clear head. So even if you just have time for a few laps around the table or a full on outdoor adventure, make sure that you’re taking breaks to move your body.

Step five for work from home success: Hydrate and snack away

I keep snacks and water with me at all times. It reminds me to have a little break, drink some water and eat something. When I’m working on something, I’ll often fall into a hole where I don’t stop until what I’m working on is finished. This can mean I go all day without eating or drinking anything! And then I’m hangry and dehydrated and no one wants to be around me. Now, to avoid that, I always keep water with me and I snack all day. Plus I make sure that I take a dedicated lunch break. (And I’m supposed to stop working after dinner but these past few weeks… that’s not happening.)

My favorite water bottle is my Hydroflask. It keeps water cold for ages, even if you don’t put any ice in it. Make sure to grab yourself a water bottle that you love to keep at your new work from home desk!

Step six for a successful working from home experience: Set boundaries

It’s so easy to end up working until 10:00PM every night and answering emails on the weekends. When you work from home, your home and work life balance gets totally thrown off balance. To protect yourself, make sure that you’ve set boundaries.

Turn off your Slack notifications so that you don’t get the messages until the morning, or until Monday. Whatever your schedule is! Also let your clients know what your working hours are. Just be honest with them and let them know that after a certain time of day, they’ll have to get an answer the next day. Just set clear expectations with them so they know when they can hear from you.

Step seven and my final piece of advice for you: Keep it clean.

Keep your workspace and your house clean. Having a clean space keeps you from a lot of distractions! So make sure that your desk area is clean, whether that’s your kitchen table or the counter or an office space. Keep it clean. I also think it’s important to keep your kitchen area clean. When you take breaks for food through the day, the last thing you want is to be distracted by a dirty kitchen that you then feel like you have to clean before you can carry on… (or maybe that’s just me…)

Clean up your dishes and make sure your countertops stay free from clutter! I can promise you this really helps me keep a distraction free workspace. I often also like to burn a candle so my space smells as good as it looks. The cozier your space, the better off your work environment will be and the better off your workday will be! It’s a win, win win!

So there you have it, these are my top tips for helping you to have a perfect experience working from home for the first time! If you work from home all the time and you just wanted to see what my tips were, let me know what works for you in the comments! I love getting the chance to connect with fellow work from home rockstars, so make sure to let me know where you’re from and where you’re currently working from (if they’re different places!) I’m from UT and weirdly enough, I’m currently working from home in UT! It’s pretty rare to catch me here these days!

Enjoy your work from home journey.

Don’t forget, if you’re ready to make the leap or maybe you just need a temporary fix until you can go back to work, check out my totally free list of 101 services that you can offer as a Virtual Assistant right now!


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