My Top Working From Home Tips
I’m sitting in my garden office (which I’m so grateful for, especially during these days) with my cup of tea, listening to the rain. It’s been a productive morning with back to back client sessions and I’m feeling inspired to share with you my working-from-home tips. After all, I’ve been doing it for quite a while now… it’s a well-known territory for me. I know that some of you find working from home challenging. Some of you shared with me that you feel disconnected, disorderly, overwhelmed and confused. If by the time you get this email you’re already back in the office, I’m sure that you’ll still find some of these tips useful. The main goal? To design an intentional mindful work day so you can be efficient, create a ‘work-life balance’ and plant lots of joyful moments. The key ingredient in keeping myself grounded and focused is my routine. Since having a baby (especially now, having no childcare) I’ve been more flexible with my routine, but I try my best to stick to my daily anchors. Before I share, let me share with you that this is what works for ME. Your needs might look different, and that's okay, feel free to take what works for you and leave out the rest.
So, here’s what works for me – routine, productivity & time management... It’s important to remember that if you overwork your mind, you’ll burn out, rendering yourself effectively useless. So you have to build in time during your day to nourish yourself and let your mind rest. Here’s how:
Tend to yourself before you tend to others. dedicate time for yourself before you start your day. This can be as little as five minutes, but five intentional minutes.
This is how my morning looks like (most days) - my alarm clock (aka Maya) wakes me up around 5:30. After feeding her she spends time with her dad, while I get to do my morning routine: my yoga & meditation practice (ideally that would be between 60-90 min, but on busy days I’m more than grateful for 20 min). Sometimes (when I’m lucky;)) by the time I finish my practice she’ll be napping so I’ll have a little extra time to journal or have my morning coffee + a book. Then I take a quick shower, make the bed, get dressed (takes me 10-15 min max) and have breakfast with her when she wakes up from her nap. Here are few ideas for what a morning routine can look like.
Create a Midday Refresher. Have a little midday routine – it can really help with avoiding that afternoon slump. That could be a cuppa, a walk outside, a short yoga session, a guided meditation, etc.
Over here, we try to have lunch together – such sweet moments I’ll treasure once this is all over. After lunch I have my midday ritual: 5 – 10 minutes to enjoy a quiet mindful cuppa, preferably in the sun. A client of mine once said – a ritual is a habit with intention – I love how she framed it… if you see your routine through this lens, a simple cup of tea can become a nourishing moment.
Wrap Up Your Day. To help with “separating” work from home, I highly recommend having an evening ritual to wrap up your day. It doesn’t have to be big, even 5-10 minutes will do. This will allow you to have a moment to transition from the day. Just as you take time in the morning to set up the pace and intention for the day you want to take a moment to tune in in the evening. Here are some ideas – take a hot shower or a bath (with some lavender), change to comfy clothes, lit up some candles, put on your favourite music, get some stretches, go for a walk, make yourself a cup of tea with a nice book. If you are a parent and you need to attend to your family create something together as family, perhaps you can go for a walk together or do something creative?
My favourite routine to wrap up my work day is taking Maya for a walk in the park before I put her to sleep.
Honour Your Sleep. Create a bedtime routine to help you wind down before you go to sleep. More about bedtime routine over here & here.
Me and Gil are taking shifts with work / taking care of Maya, so every day looks slightly different, depending on clients (for me) & meetings (for him). So these days, I’ll get about 4 -/+ hours to work on a typical day -- so efficiency is essential! Here’s how I make most out of my time:
Creative Work First. On non-client workdays, when working on a project (like Finally ME or something new I’m currently brewing:)) I try to start work as early as possible. Why? Because early mornings are my favourite time to be creative. I *do not* open my email before I am about to do creative work.
Phone Boundaries. My phone stays on silent all day long and I only answer messages when I’m having a break. There are exceptions, of course. But this is a general rule of thumb for me.
Close Up Shop. When I am done with work for the day I always "close up shop." This means I clear my inbox, clear off my desk and tidy up my office/workspace.
Plan Your Week Ahead. Every Sunday I plan the week ahead. I look at my Google Calendar – appointments, coaching calls, workshops and personal things, and schedule my tasks (which I take out from my “master to-do list” that I keep on a Google Doc) throughout the week. I usually choose between 1-3 tasks for each (non-client) workday.
Choose the Number 1 Task. Every morning after I’ve organized my desk, I review my calendar again and see whether I need to make any adaptations. I then choose the most important task to start with. To know which task to start with you can ask yourself: What is the most important thing to do that by doing it I'll create more time and mental space/energy? Little hint – usually it’s the task that you least feel like doing! It’s the task that moves the needle forward and makes everything else easier or unnecessary.
Time Blocking. When working on projects I love using the Pomodoro Technique. The idea is to set a timer and work for 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break. But you can change the intervals of time you work in to meet your personal workflow. For example you can decide to work for 50 minutes and then take a 10 minute break. The goal is to notice when your focus starts fading and your productivity begins dropping. Before I put the timer on, I make sure I have no distractions (aka phone on night mode). If there are other people at home I recommend asking them not to interrupt you in the next 50 minutes for example (unless it’s urgent). You can put headphones as your ‘do not interrupt me’ sign.
Inspiring Workspace. Create a comfortable, soothing, and uplifting work space. Even if it’s your kitchen table. Take 5-minutes to organize your desk before you start working. Place some objects that make you feel happy and peaceful - flowers, plants, candles, your favourite mug, etc. Before Covid-19, I had much more structure around work. I had set days/times for clients, for content creation, for admin and for meetings. Having no childcare + less time during the day to get things done, requires more flexibility around my usual schedule. I’ve been slightly shifting my boundaries (while still honouring my needs) to meet the current reality. For example, I am less strict around working after dinner or in the weekends. A little reminder to shift from perfectionism to self-compassion. Whatever your situation is remember “You are not working from home; you are at home during a crisis trying to work.” Hope these tips are helpful, I’m here if you have any questions! Lots of love, Naama