I’m very fortunate to work from home two days a week. I’ve had a handful of people ask me about this recently, commenting that they “could never do it” because they couldn’t focus or they need human interaction. It took me some time to get into a WFH groove, but here’s how I make it work for me.
Clean the room you work in the night before.
My home office is right off the kitchen. The nights before my WFH days, I make sure that there are no dishes in the sink and that I’ve run the Roomba in the last few days. I wipe down the countertops, and also straighten the family room since I usually sit in a chair that faces that way. Doing this ensures I won’t be easily distracted by housework when I should be writing.
Lay out your work materials the night before as well.
I don’t know why, but waking up in the morning and having to arrange my various items (computer, charger, mouse, planner, files, etc.) is not how I like to start my day. I prefer a slow start – spending time with the kids before settling in to work with a cup of coffee. Arranging things the night before means that when I’m ready to start work, the work is ready and waiting for me.
Make your to-do list in advance.
If I don’t set my direction for the day, I spend my time listlessly doing tiny things like responding to every email immediately instead of digging in to really focus. That’s not productive, it’s not fair to my company, and it makes me feel crummy at the end of the day. Having clear, predetermined goals for the day keeps me on track and productive.
Plan my food intake for the day.
If I don’t do this, I find myself snacking mindlessly and then feeling icky. Thinking in advance about what I want to fuel my body with helps. So does keeping a huge glass of water nearby!
Incorporate breaks into the day.
For me, this means 10 minutes in the morning to watch the beginning of KLG+Hoda (guilty pleasure!), a walk outside at lunch if weather permits, and a 10 minute afternoon break for a “housekeeping blitz.” This is when I throw in some laundry, load the dishwasher, check the mail, etc. Knowing I have time held to do this in the afternoon helps me resist the distraction/temptation of doing this stuff earlier in the day.
I have managed to successfully work from home 1-2 days a week for the last eight years! I’m not perfect about implementing these tips (note: why is it sometimes so hard to do the things we know are best for ourselves?) but when I do, I see an uptick in my productivity, which allows me to end my workday on time and feeling good about what I’ve accomplished.