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Among the many changes 2020 brought into our lives, how and where we work was at the top of the list.

Among the many changes 2020 brought into our lives, how and where we work was at the top of the list. In 2019 only 5% of the population worked from home. By spring of 2020 that number had increased to 60%. Now, half way through 2021 we are seeing that for many of us that change is here to stay. Studies are showing that people report higher levels of happiness and productivity from working at home.

Some will continue working their same job from home either full time or on more of a flex schedule. But for many others, whether due to job loss or having more free time due to lack of commute and higher productivity from working at home, it will be because they started a new business. According to the US Business Formation Statistics (BFS), 2020 had a 24.13% increase in new business applications over 2019.

I personally have worked from home for 20 years, both as a corporate employee and as a business owner. While each has their own pros and cons, for me the perks of working from home far outweigh any of the challenges. Today I’m sharing all my tips for making the most out of home office life! You can grab my free ” Working From Home Like a Boss Guide” here.

1. The Right Tools

The right tools for the job make all of the difference. Same goes for working from home. If you’re employed, your company has probably already supplied you with many of these items. But, if you’re self employed or work for a very small company you may need to find these on your own. These are the tech tools that have helped me the most.

High Speed Internet. When you have a full day of projects and deadlines, you don’t have time for slow internet.

A Good Computer. If you’re employed, your company has probably supplied you with a new computer. If you are starting a business, this expense will be on you. You may need to just start with what you’ve got but you’re going to need a good computer. Nothing is more frustrating than working on a slow computer. You want lots of storage and memory. Excellent graphics and a LED-backlit HD screen can help reduce eye strain. You will also want to take size into consideration. A larger screen is very helpful if you are creating any kind of digital products, etc. I have a 13in Mac Book Pro that I love but am finding the screen to be too small for some of the work I’m doing. I still want the convenience of a laptop so I will just add a 24in monitor to my work space. But if you only work at your desk a desktop may be the way to go.

Project + Task Management Systems. Again, if you’re employed, your company may have already provided this for you. But if they haven’t or if you are self employed, you will need a way to manage your projects and tasks. I use a combination of a paper planner and Trello. Trello is a project management system that lets you compile assignment boards and designate tasks for each day of the week. It’s very visual and you can allow other people access to your boards. In the near future I’ll share my productivity system!

Teleconferencing. You still need to meet with people when working from home. Zoom is definitely the most popular and offers a free Basic Plan.

Quality Lighting. For video and teleconferencing, you need to have proper lighting placed in front of you, not behind, to illuminate your face. A ring light works great but can take up a lot of room on a desk. I use Lume Cube, an attachment for your computer that adds studio quality lighting at home. It’s small and does a great job.

2. Create a Weekly + Daily Routine

Flexibility is one of the advantages of working from home but without some structure you may find yourself easily distracted and getting behind OR working all of the time. A good weekly/daily routine helps you stay balanced and productive.

Starting Your Day. Morning routines can have enormous impact on how we show up for our day. Whether you have only 20 minutes or 90, here is list of options most find beneficial to include.

  • Prayer or meditation
  • Journaling (The 5 Minute Journal is great for those with minimal time or who don’t enjoy traditional journaling. Hits on the important parts to have a good day.)
  • Reading or listening to a podcast
  • Overview of the days plan
  • Exercise

Plan Weekly and Daily. Make it part of your weekend routine to plan the big chunks of your week.

  • Weekly Goals
  • Projects
  • Task Lists
  • Meetings and Appointments

Then review and fill in daily.

Ending Your Workday. Creating an end of the workday routine will help you enjoy your evening hours so much more and set you up for a productive tomorrow.

  • Log out of your company’s messaging app, sign out of email applications and shut down your laptop.
  • Tidy up your workspace. You’ll thank yourself tomorrow.
  • Take a few minutes to review what you accomplished today. If you journal at then end of the day do it now while you’re in reflective mode and before your plan tomorrow.
  • Plan tomorrow. Move anything that didn’t done today to tomorrows list. Go through your notes and add any thing that came up (calls to make, emails to return, etc.) to the list, too.
  • Shut it off and go enjoy your evening!

3. Stay Focused & Productive

Sometimes it can be challenging to stay focused and productive at home. Between other family members, pets, laundry and social media time can slip away with little to show for it. Here are proven techniques to help you make the most of your work hours.

Get dressed. It doesn’t matter what you change into as long as its out of your PJ’s. According to psychotherapist Dr. Kathryn Smerling it benefits your mental health and productivity. It’s a ritual. Ritual helps us focus. “The simple task of putting on pants, she said, helps “set up a new environment. This signals you have changed from sleepiness to actual work efficiency. You’ve transformed your mental state from one of relaxation and sleepiness into one where you’re working. You’ve changed the scenery.”

So, your clothes can still be soft and comfy, just not pajamas.

Schedule Real Breaks. It’s easy to forget to take rest periods while sitting in front of your computer screen or working on your phone. Therefore, it’s a good idea to actually schedule your breaks throughout the day, just like you would at work. Experts recommend taking productive breaks, such as a home workout or preparing for dinner. Unproductive breaks include watching YouTube or checking your email.

Create a Workspace That You Enjoy. In early March, Twitter users shared their creative and hilarious workspace setups, proving almost anything can be used as a desk. However, many work-from-home pros recommend designating a functional space that supports good posture, curbs distraction, lets in natural light and feels more like the office. A great dedicated workspace is one where you can close and lock the door. This is excellent for productivity, but it isn’t realistic for everyone. If you don’t have a spare room or desk space, try setting up in your dining room or kitchen.

If you have an outdoor living space, you can even work outside. During the summer, my most productive work space is on the patio. The fresh air, sunlight and soft background sounds of nature help me get in and stay in my productivity zone.

Next, incorporate your personal touch. Cute organizational items, a favorite pen and notebook and a framed inspirational quote are great start.

Fuel Your Body & Your Brain. Food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance, which is why a poor decision at lunch can derail an entire afternoon. One of the benefits of working from home is the ability to have access to fresh and healthy food instead of restaurants and what’s in the break room. Here are top nutrition tips for all day energy and focus.

  • Eat a breakfast of protein & whole grains. This will help you stay full and avoid the mid morning sugar crash.
  • Avoid heavy or fatty lunches. Instead, choose lean protein, vegetables and whole grains. A packed salad, vegetable soup or whole grain bread with lean turkey or hummus will help you plow right through the 3PM slump. I usually have a vegan protein smoothie with 1/2 frozen avocado & frozen fruit. It’s quick, convenient, healthy and delicious!
  • Avoid sugar and processed foods for snacks. Grab an apple and almond butter or fruit and yogurt instead.
  • Limit caffeine and energy drinks. A couple of cups of coffee is good for concentration but several can actually have the opposite affect. I have usually have 1-2 cups in the morning and then after lunch I enjoy a delicious energy drink that contains Ginseng Root, Coenzyme Q10, Chromium and B vitamins and caffeine from Guarana and Green Tea. It gives me focused energy without the jitters or sleep disruption.

Get Up and Move. When you’re working at home, it’s easy to stick to a chair all day. However, sitting all the time isn’t healthy at home or at the office. Standing up, stretching and moving around regularly are beneficial to your health and well-being. It also energizes and helps you to focus during the day.

  • Working on your feet part of the day. We invested in a standing desk attachment for our son who is in finance and literally working at his desk all day, then taking online classes in the evening. This not only allows him to stand for part of the day, but when lowered when he sits it keeps his neck and shoulders upright and aligned.
  • Wear your Bluetooth headphones and walk around your house during meetings if you don’t need to be in front of your computer for conference calls.
  • Download an app that will notify you to stand up and move around every hour.

I hope these tips help. I’d love to hear any tips that you’ve found to help make the most out of working from home. Please share in the comments!

P.S. Be sure to grab my free “Working From Home Like A Boss Guide” here!

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I'm Stephanie, your new go to girl for living your very best life.

Planning, organization, systems and routines for health, beauty, life and biz.

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