15 Tips for Being the Most Productive Working from Home (from a WFH Veteran!)

Hellllllo from quarantine! Are we all bunkered up for the foreseeable future? As horrible + overwhelming as a week it’s been for us all, I want to try and keep finding the silver lining in life (as always – everything’s coming up roses amiright? 😉 ) in the hopes of helping us all stay sane through an undeniably + undoubtedly anxiety-inducing time. Many folks have started officially working from home, be it by personal choice or by mandatory effort to #FlattenTheCurve, and I don’t think it’ll be slowing down anytime soon – I’d guess that as many folks as possible will be working from home ASAP since this is an obviously serious thing that needs truly dedicated, united effort to get under some sense of control STAT.  So, in the spirit of helping out, as a 4-year working from home veteran over here, I figured I have a thing or two (or fifteen) to share about how to make the most of your time working from home so that you a.) don’t lose your mind, and b.) actually get sh*t done. 😉 Whether you’re already a working from home veteran like me and have #BeenThereDoneThat or are new to working from home, here are 15 tips for being the most *productive* while working from home for the next two weeks and then some.

15 Tips for Being the Most Productive Working from Home (from a WFH Veteran!)

  • Be strict with wake up times.

– and wake up the same time everyday. Especially without a boss at an office, it can be *easy* to just hit snooze or nix the alarm altogether and sleep in. BUT. You feel soooo much worse when you look at the clock, your colleages at the office have already hit up Gmail and you’re still wearing your retainers and last night’s college sweats. Even if you’re not a morning person (here’s how to be a morning person, too!), waking up at the same time everyday will help keep your body in-sync and in-check. And if you can, wake up a bit earlier, too. Getting a head start on at least getting READY for the day will have you getting to work around the same time as your in-office counterparts.

Also, make yo’ bed! You’ll feel more put-together instantly and be off on the right foot, with a simple, achievable “win” under your belt right off the bat.

  • Get dressed for the day.

Everyone rejoices at the thought of pajamas for days…at first. In reality, look good = feel good. If you feel gross, it’ll trickle down into your work, leaving you less confident overall – which can affect your work performance. For someone working from home on things like relationship-building and negotiations, this is huge! I try to only let myself wear leggings once a week and otherwise “dress up”, even if that’s just “real pants.” You don’t have to go full glam or don the heels to sit at your kitchen table on your MacBook, but at least get yourself to a point of “presentable” where you wouldn’t be ashamed to hop on a video call with your boss if need be, or be seen by more than the mailman. 😉

Cute-but-still-comfy favorites of mine: these slippers (legit better than my UGGs!!!!), these blue light glasses, and these sweatshirts that still look cute out for the house!

  • Do hair + makeup, too!

I’m not always the best at this but notice a SIGNIFICANT difference in both my productivity and my mood when I put in the extra few minutes in the morning. Maybe that sounds silly – but I really do believe in the power of a good lipstick. 😉 For me personally, it’s all in the confidence that a good hair day + your favorite lippy can bring. I know that I just feel my best when I’m not worried about an unexpected zit or random redness, when my eyes look more open (thanks, mascara), and when I have a hint of color happening. It doesn’t have to be some glamazon routine – ain’t nobody got time, especially on a work day! 😉 But even just taking 5-10 minutes max to do something light can work wonders for your overall mood. For something quick, I recommend using Face Filter (it’s got a slight tint + sheen for a natural glow while blurring imperfections, priming for makeup, and also moisturizing – code COMINGUPROSES gets 15% off!), then an It Cosmetics CC+ Cream. I like to do a quick contour/blush swipe with something easy like a Butter Highlight for some shimmer + life, then mascara and a glossy lip for an easy everyday pickmeup, and my Tula Rose eye balm.

  • Work somewhere comfortable…but also slightly UNcomfortable (in a dedicated workspace)

…Which sounds weird, I get it. But did you know that many offices intentionally keep temperatures a bit cool to encourage productivity? I mean, it makes sense…people aren’t typically hustling to meet deadlines or make calls when they’re lounging at the beach. If you’re warm and cozy and comfy, your entire being changes and you’re not necessarily producing the same results. If you’re in sweats and wrapped up in a blanket on the couch…are you closing deals for the job, or binging Love is Blind?

Try to sit in a chair with a hard back (so no sofas, sis!) with good posture, in a space that can *just* be for work. Of course, if you aren’t usually working from home and don’t have a space like this, that’s understandable – for the time being, try to re-create a little corner that’s just for the job. This helps separate work from “play” or other things, giving you some semblance of work-life balance as working from home continues.

  • Plan breaks around results…

…and make breaks count! If I’m working on a deadline or have something that HAS to get done, I won’t let myself break until it happens. So if you’re on the clock for something, don’t let yourself go on a break until it’s D-O-N-E!

15 Tips for Being the Most Productive Working from Home (from a WFH Veteran!)

  • Don’t leave things open-ended.

Time block, baby! My MOST productive days working from home are packed schedules. Not because there’s more on the calendar to-do – because there’s ALWAYS so much to do around CUR headquarters! 😉 But moreso because we tend to fit the space we are given, psychologically speaking. As human beings, if we’re given ten minutes to make it happen – we work faster + more efficiently and effectively than if we had two hours to do the same task. If you give yourself a wide open timeframe for something, chances are, the task that coulda/woulda/shoulda been done in a much smaller timeframe will magically stretch itself to fit the bigger block. Even if they’re arbitrary sometimes, give yourself deadlines and don’t leave things open-ended on the calendar!

This can be reaaaally effective in helping to hold yourself accountable while working from home, especially if you’re your own boss for some things now. I share exactly what it is + how to make one right here, but essentially, you start your day with a blank piece of paper and work to fill it as the day goes on, only adding on what you’ve actually gotten done. Instant productivity check to ensure you’re staying on task, since you can see *exactly* what’s been done as it happens throughout the day.

  • No YouTube/TV/distractions allowed.

Basically nix the Netflix! Distractions are the #1 time killer, of course – and you can somehow kill a whole day with slime-slinging monkey videos on TikTok or videos of beauty gurus contouring for six hours – who knew? 😉 Make a concerted decision at the start of each day to not allow YouTube, TV, Netflix, Hulu or any other digital distraction in your workspace.

  • Plan socializing with colleagues/friends.

One of my biggest gripes with working from home is always how isolating it can feel – because it is! What’s helped me the most is intentional time with friends – especially my girlfriends who I’ve met on the internet who also do what I do for a living – and incorporating that FaceTime into my work day. I’m often FaceTiming Taylor while we each get ready for the day, and just having some girl chat like you would with your friends at the office – or someone to bounce ideas off of or run through email drafts with before hitting “send” can be super valuable in keeping you sane on the job.

  • Have a self-care “menu” to fall back on for pickmeups.

Sometimes, ya just need a little R&R! I think it’s best to know thyself always, and have a few things up your sleeve that you know can shake you outta a funk. For me, it’s music (feel free to follow me on Spotify here if ya want/need playlists to have on repeat!). I can walk to the mailbox and back just listening to a favorite song and feel instantly better, reconnecting to the good stuff and letting loose some of the bad.

  • Prep meals ahead of time.

Mind you, I’m the world’s biggest snacker. Like, leader of the snack cult, poster child for Snackaholics Anonymous kinda snacker. And I used to be baaaaad when it came to eating meals while working from home because I just…wouldn’t. I’d grab a bunch of snacks and keep working while snacking, which quickly became a bad habit. Prep meals ahead of time lest the CheezIt binge begin.

Binge-snacking is a real thing in the WFH lifestyle. So it’s important to prep meals, as well as snacks that are healthy! I’m not always feeling a full-size meal for lunch, so oftentime I end up making myself little “platters” with things like cheese, nuts, fruit, a rollup of lunchmeat or two – something balanced to keep everything level, protein packed to stay full, and enough healthy carbs to keep going to past 5.

P.S. I STRONGLY recommed Home Chef – it’s what J + I have been using for over a year now and it’s what literally gets us by with delish, home-cooked meals minus any + all stress of meal prepping, ingredient shopping, and regular cooking. AND, especially with the quarantines/lockdown status everyone is in, it eliminates stress by shipping all of your pre-selected meals right to your doorstep. We get 3 meals each week but you can get the entire week’s worth of meals and then some, and everything comes in pre-packaged little bags with all of the fresh ingredients all ready to go, with accompanying recipes that are SO DANG EASY TO READ, YO.

Listen, I’m no Barefoot Contessa. And if I can learn to make risotto by following this little picture card, YOU CAN, TOO. 😉 It’s honestly one of the biggest mental saviors while attempting to meal prep with everything going on, too, because we just…don’t have to. We know our box will be on our doorstep tomorrow, and even if the grocery store is out of bread, milk, eggs, and a year’s supply of toilet paper (OY), we’ve got farmhouse fried chicken tenders with hot honey, biscuits, and buttermilk ranch slaw, spicy Korean beef and broccoli rice bowls with cripsy rice noodles, and cheesy chipotle steak chiladas en route for the week (legit – those are our meals this week…YUMMERS)

They so kindly passed along code ERICAL80 for you to get $80 off your first four meals (it shows up as $20 off first meal, and that’s applied 4 times, FYI!) if you wanna give it a go – YAY!!

15 Tips for Being the Most Productive Working from Home (from a WFH Veteran!)

  • Plan for video calls whenever possible.

It’s like personal accountability for the whole get-dressed-get-ready thing. 😉 Anytime I’ve got a video call on the calendar you can bet your bottom dollar I’m going to at least put on a bra. No need for pants if it’s neck up, but still…ha! I KID. I always get fully dressed for the day thankyoukindly. But really, having some accountability on the calendar helps with quite a few of the above tips, from getting yourself ready and presentable to having things scheduled.

  • Have designated social media times. 

My favorite thing that people ask me when they know I work from home is, “OH, so you’re just on Facebook all day then right???” LOL NO. Also, please note that that’s rather offensive to folks working from home – we don’t ask if you’re just screwing around on social at the office, do we? Yet I know SO MANY FOLKS who have no problem posting to their personal Facebook FROM THEIR CUBICLE. Even though I work ON social media, I have to intentionally restrict time spent scrolling a newsfeed. Get on to do exactly what you needed to do (put up a post for work, check something specific, etc) but then GET OFF and don’t get on again until you actually have to – set limits on your phone with apps if need be to prevent mindlessly opening Instagram on work time!

  • No non-work work during the day 

That includes laundry, dishes, etc. Go to work the same way you would at the office – and you wouldn’t stop writing up a work report to organize your bathroom cabinet, would you? Granted, it can be HELLA TEMPTING – I know. But if you’ve got a full plate of work to-do’s, don’t mix work and home tasks on work time. Separate your day like you would at the office, and stick to it!

  • Step outside for a hot sec.

Never underestimate the power of a breath of fresh air – truly! Even a quick walk to the mailbox and back is better than nothing!

Are you working from home now? Do you work from home regularly anyway?

I wanna know – and if you do and have any tips not mentioned above, drop ’em in a comment below for the rest of us!