Working from home is not new for me. Even before blogging full time, I successfully worked a dedicated schedule without leaving the house. Maybe that made for a more smooth transition this past summer; it wasn’t a shock to not see co-workers, I’ve been adjusted to staying put for a long time, and I’ve never had to question my discipline/distractions. The truth is, I’m a pretty darn good worker from home. I don’t sleep til noon, I don’t go on endless lunch dates with friends, and I don’t get too sucked into doing non-work-related home tasks. This list of “fixes” isn’t groundbreaking; in fact, it’s pretty standard. But, they are all easy habits that I was able to compile within minutes, that I’ve fallen out of. Skip one or two things here and there, not a big deal. But, when all the sudden, you’ve realized that you’re skipping more and more and you’re not operating on a schedule, it can affect you in a major way and throw you all out of whack. Small habits add up to define the way you feel, your productivity, and ultimately, your entire work life. Now, I’m not saying I’m a wreck but to be honest, I’ve found myself in a funk over the past month or so. I love what I do. Without question. But I have felt so disorganized (and to be honest, lost in some ways when it comes to direction), I finally decided to do something about it. It was easy for me to attribute my “bleh” feeling to one thing but when I sat down to truly start reviewing what my days used to look like and comparing them to present day, while it didn’t feel like I was doing that much differently, I was. And it was super apparent.
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All of the habits I’ve slipped out of pertain to small changes from food and planning to location and they all come down to one thing- feeling my best so I can maximize productivity during my day. Here’s the specific areas I need to re-adjust to get back in my own good graces.
1. WAKE UP EARLY
I don’t wake up, ready to jump out of bed each day, but I guess I would technically qualify as a “morning person”. On the weekends, I like to get things done early so I can go easier on myself the rest of the day. If I have an errand, you better believe I’m going to try to be there when they open the doors. I naturally wake up early, but during the week, I’ve been finding myself wasting that time. Instead of getting up and getting the day started, I will lay in bed, checking emails, social platforms, and basically anything I can think of for over an hour. By the time I actually do get up, fix coffee, a bowl of oatmeal (a good habit I actually have stuck with), water the plants, feed the dogs, and get the bare minimum finished, it’s already approaching 8:00 a.m. and I immediately feel behind before I’ve even started. So, I am committing to getting back in the habit of getting up when I wake up. Which leads me to #2.
2. GO FOR A WALK
I am not a “worker-outer” by any means but I do enjoy a good walk. When I do, I have so much more energy and feel more ready to do things. A little over a month ago, I got in the habit of waking up early, actually getting up, and before doing anything, heading out for a brisk morning walk. I was back before Dave even left for work and could transition right into early morning coffee and chores before putting on my “work” hat. Well, almost immediately after I started my new early morning ritual, I got sick. Really sick. Hard-to-breathe-standing-up kind of sick. I could forget about walking and luckily, rebounded to about 90% just before our New York trip. It’s been two weeks since we got back though and do you think I’ve resumed my “new-normal” schedule? Nope. The bit of energy from a walk alone, will help fuel me so friends, I am getting back to it ASAP.
3. SHOWER BEFORE STARTING
Because of what #1 has turned into, by the time I cross off the morning chores, already feeling behind, I jump into emails and research and posts and… you get it. Before I know it, the morning is gone, my stomach is growling for lunch, and I realize I never got out of my pajamas. Again, while I know some swear by getting fully ready every day as it makes us “feel better” and work more productively, I still take casual dress as one of the perks from working from home. And, working in pajamas can be a fun treat but not doing some of the basic essentials just by default – well, I don’t want to be about that life anymore. I’m going to get back to changing/ showering/ etc. before my work day starts instead of having to interrupt my flow to go take care of business, wait until evening, or honestly on some days, skip it all together. *No judgement, guys! haha*
4. PUT ON MY FACE
Again, I am not in the camp of going full-on made up every day of the week, even if it is for myself. Let’s be real- I like spending a fraction of what I used to on beauty products because I now wear them about a quarter as much as I used to. But, there really is something to be said about putting on even a little. Even if you are staying in lounge/workout clothes, a tad of makeup can take you up several notches. I’m not saying this is what I’m going to do every day, but, I am resolving to start putting it on at least a couple days during the week.
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5. MAKE THE BED
Y’all, I used to make my bed every single day. I did when I was in highschool, and when I was in college, I made it before ever leaving my room. Even when I lived alone in my apartment in my early twenties, I made my bed. More often than not, I get sidetracked and sucked into being on the computer and the next thing I know, it’s time for bed and I’m working to semi-make it just for us to be able to slip into tautly pulled sheets. Once I get back from my walk and showered, I’m not letting myself leave the bedroom without getting that dang thing made. I’ve said before and believe it in the deepest depths of my soul that it sets the tone for your day. Doing that one productive thing makes you feel accomplished. And, I’ve missed that itty bitty feeling of daily success as of late.
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6. SET UP SHOP IN THE OFFICE
Before Christmas, my office was turned into a Christmas workshop dropzone wreck. I didn’t mind and powered through the holidays working from different spaces throughout the house, underneath Christmas trees, snuggled in bed, etc. I wasn’t as productive and even though I was working the same hours, I could feel it. Having a dedicated space just helps you be your best and most productive. Finally, when it was all tidied, I moved back in and just like before, I was getting so much more done. Then, (and you guys, I have no idea how this happened), I just realized for whatever reason, I was working from the kitchen bar every day. To be honest, that’s exactly where I’m writing this post! Whoops haha. So, today’s the last day of that. I love my office, I do my best work there, and I need to get back to it. I actually do have one goal of working from the porch some this summer (which may sound contradictory to what I just said) but I think it’s good to take yourself out of your office for chunks at a time, especially if it’s for fresh air and vitamin E.
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7. DEVELOP AND STICK TO A CONTENT CALENDAR
I shared my new-ish love, Trello, in a recent post. Yes, I do still totally love it but I have realized it is not a substitution for a planned out content calendar. I started the year strong. I had about six weeks worth of posts scheduled out in my planner; I could glance at it and know what was coming. I thought just having “upcoming posts” in my Trello lists would be sufficient, but nope. Given too many choices without clear direction leads to some staying on the list too long and not planning effectively for what I do decide to tackle. I try to spread out my super intense, time consuming posts with posts that don’t require as much photography, shopping, etc. I pride myself on developing all my own content and because I don’t typically round up ideas from others, a lot of time goes into each post. For example, my Cinco de Mayo Fiesta post took over an estimated 25 hours from start to finish. From concept to shopping and sourcing to cooking and setting up and all the little details, photographing, selecting photos, editing, tagging, naming, sizing, writing, linking, etc. And that’s just one post. Without a calendar telling me what I’m doing, I have a tendency of loading too many “light posts” or “intense posts” together and it just makes for a bad/impossible workflow. This weekend, I am committing to planning out my next several weeks of content.
8. CREATE TO-DO LISTS
I love lists. I love checking them off and feeling accomplished when I do. But, I’ve gotten away from coming up with a succinct to-do list for each day. My to-do lists have turned into long-term priorities. It’s overwhelming and sometimes just paralyzes me. Along with the content calendar, I’m going to get back to creating a succinct, actionable list at the end of each work day to tackle the following day. I look forward to the day where I know what I’m doing each morning when I wake up instead of asking myself “what should I do today?”
9. START DINNER AT 5:00 P.M.
This is a habit I actually did recently resume and totally proved – I need this regularity in my life. When I was working two full time jobs, Dave stepped up and prepared dinner most nights. He’s a great cook and enjoys it, but I did feel guilty. We are a team but this is something that I like feeling like I provided for my family. I would work long past 5:00, into the night, and even after I settled in to blog full time, I would have a hard time walking away from the computer. Everyone is busy. We all have things to do. But making myself step away at the end of the day to start home priorities makes me feel so much more “together”. I like not eating as late and I like Dave feeling like he doesn’t have to step up after his long drives home. Knowing I have a “quitting time” (even if I do have to resume later on occasion) motivates me to be as productive as I can during the day to get it all done.
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10. MEAL PLAN ON SUNDAYS
We cook dinner every night. For one million reasons, we prefer it. I started meal planning years ago on Sundays and it was a lifestyle move that helped in more ways than I can explain. Deciding what were having each night, designing our schedule to share ingredients between meals, and building out the grocery list saves money, keeps us from guessing, and keeps grocery trips to a minimum. When Dave started cooking more, a lot of times on a whim, I fell out of practice with sticking to my meal planning as much as I should have. I thought it gave more flexibility should I decide to not move forward with the chicken casserole. This way leaves us with more wasted food and more expensive trips. Plus, I love this part of my Sundays. Since I’m already in the spirit of holding myself accountable, I’m going to go ahead and plan next week’s dinner, right here, right now.
- Monday: Spaghetti
- Tuesday: Chicken Taco Salads
- Wednesday: Chicken Casserole, Roasted Cauliflower, Salad
- Thursday: Meatloaf (frozen from earlier preparation), Green Beans, Scalloped Potatoes
- Friday: Leftovers
Look at me go- all set to make a grocery list 😉
11. TURN OFF THE TV; TURN ON THE MUSIC
This one is going to sound silly. For the record, I do not keep the tv on, take naps during “work hours”, or watch morning talk shows and soap operas. What I did fall into a bad habit of, more recently working from the kitchen bar, was turning on an episode from something I’m binging while eating lunch or editing photos, and then getting sucked in long after my food was finished or my photos were loaded. I can’t write and watch tv at the same time and I found myself starting and stopping far too often and projects taking twice as long as they should. This is a “duh” one but in the spirit of “putting it all out there”, I had to include this, also. I need to cozy back up to my Alexa/Pandora/Spotify and be more disciplined in turning off the tv. PS: I just finished the first four seasons of “Younger” on Hulu and totally recommend it 😉
12. TAKE MYSELF OUT OF THE HOUSE
This is a tough one for me. In my last job, even though I worked from home, I felt guilty even going downstairs to pull together a sandwich. I was glued to my office, glued to my email, and leaving for anything other than a quick mail run was totally out of the question. While some people may need to get into the habit of being in the office more, I want to start taking myself out of the office occasionally – at least once or twice a week. Isn’t it silly that I still have that old mentality and even a work-related trip to shop for a post makes me feel guilty?! As a creator, I know when my brain feels mushy, my creativity could definitely benefit from getting out in the world a little more often. And hey- because I’m going to be wearing some makeup more often, I’ll be ready to go 😉
13. SET MY PHONE DOWN
This is a tricky one because unlike most, a large part of my job is social media. Allotting time to post, engage, research, connect, etc. is a necessity but what I’m talking about is when I pick up my phone to give myself a break and end up scrolling Facebook or watching Instagram stories. Somehow, an hour of wasted time slips by. Yep, I know I’m not alone but because I only have myself to hold myself accountable, I have got to put the phone down and stop lazily watching what everyone is having for breakfast and what their kids sleep schedules are. I haven’t formally thought through how to manage but I may try to allot myself dedicated time in the morning and afternoon, and set those distractions off limits for the bulk of the day.
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14. PLAN FOR LUNCH
Along with meal planning, I used to do so good with my lunches. Again, I eat out, even on the run, very rarely. I stick to leftovers and keeping salad essentials in the fridge for lunch – well, I used to. Lately, along with my slack dinner planning, I’ve neglected lunch planning, also, resorting to too many snacks and frozen crap. This fix is as easy as making sure we stock up on lettuce on Sunday; consider it done.
15. GET BACK ON THE SMOOTHIE TRAIN
My favorite afternoon snack is a filling, healthy (ok, semi-healthy) smoothie. Quitting these was a product of laziness and lack of planning. I’m bringing this five minutes back into my day, too – note to self: add ingredients to grocery list stat.
The fact is, none of these things are going to monopolize a huge amount of time; most of them take minutes. We all have the same hours in a day; but what do we do with those hours? I want to feel good and know I did everything I could at the end of each day; I know I won’t feel like I conquered the world every single day, but I would like to feel accomplished more days than not. In large part, these things have been neglected, not out of laziness but the opposite – I’ve been running in so many directions in such a disorganized way that I’m not even stopping to take care of the basics. I’m confident that once I reclaim my mornings, the rest of my day will fall in line, too. And, in an effort to hold myself accountable, how about this – I’ll check back in in a month and report how everything is going. If I’ve been able to stick to my plan and how it’s affected my work from home flow. If you don’t already, subscribe to my emails below so you don’t miss the follow-up 😉
If you have important tips for schedules, working from home, holding yourself accountable, etc. let me know in the comments below. And, if you’ve been struggling with maintaining a schedule lately too, let’s do this together.
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