How to Work from Home Without Losing Your Mind, Part II

In Part I of this series, I talked about the way your physical space makes such a big difference in the productivity and enjoyability of working from home. Over the years I've learned that while having a home office is essential for me, there are a few other things that contribute to success in this area too.

Create a schedule/routine and stick to it. It's rare that I have two days in a row that are the same, which is really awesome, but can also be really draining. When you have to figure out all of the pieces of the puzzle that make up your work day, it can be helpful to have set routines on either side of it to give your brain a break. I have a general morning and evening routine that I stick to nearly every day no matter what else is going on. This helps me feel stable and grounded while giving me freedom during my work time. It also allows me to set a schedule with hours that work for me so clients and colleagues know when I'm available.

Classic work-from-home lunch of a huge salad.

Classic work-from-home lunch of a huge salad.

Set boundaries. This goes along with setting a schedule and having a routine, but setting boundaries is super important in the work-from-home world. Whether they are boundaries between your home and work life or boundaries about when you answer phone calls or emails or have meetings, it's so important to set some you feel comfortable with and stick to them. Boundaries can and will change over time, but getting some in place that work for right now has helped me immensely.

Get dressed. This may seem obvious, but I know a lot of people who work from home in their PJs or think it would be fun to do so. I do so only on sick or snow days, preferring to get up, shower and put clothes on before starting my work day. I don't dress like I did when I worked in an office, but I look presentable and can come and go as I please without having to change my outfit 10 times a day. Figure out what type of clothes work for you when you work from home and put them to good use when you leave your PJs behind each morning.

Eat well and not at your computer. I'm a meal person, so I like to sit down to a decent lunch during my workday. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate (I eat the same few meals on rotation to make it easy), but I like the break it gives me in the day to step away from the computer and refuel for what's next. I often pair my mid-day meal with a walk, which is really refreshing. I like having a well-stocked kitchen while I'm working so that I can just eat lunch and snacks at home without having to go out and fetch food, and this makes getting lunch out a true treat. If you're prone to mindless eating, stay away from your kitchen during the workday, and make sure you have lots of healthy snacks on hand when hunger does strike. I also drink lots of water during the day and stock the fridge with iced tea and coffee and seltzer so I have easy grab-and-go options that are appealing. A little prep work in this area can go a long way.

Sometimes my breaks from work include a run to the local farmers market.

Sometimes my breaks from work include a run to the local farmers market.

Take a break. When you work in an office there's often some down time, like chatting with co-workers while getting an afternoon snack or reading your book with your sandwich at lunch. When you work from home, it's easy to just work, work, work all the time, stopping only to switch the laundry, go to the grocery store or clean the bathroom. But having little breaks, whether it's a short walk, phone call with a family member or friend or just a leisurely lunch outside, can make a big difference in your day. Don't forget that just because you can work all the time doesn't mean you should. 

Be flexible. One of the best parts of working from home is that you can be flexible with your schedule on a day-to-day and longer-term basis. I sometimes pile a lot of work into a few days so I can take an extra day off to go away for the weekend or work on a project around the house that's been on my list for a while. I also like to get the bulk of my writing done in the morning and try to schedule meetings, calls and appointments (or run errands) in the afternoon. The key is to embrace the flexibility that comes from being the boss of your schedule and make it work for your life.

What are your top work from home tips? My last post got some great ones in the comments and on Facebook and I'd love to hear yours!