Upon graduation, I was beyond excited to start my working-girl life. For the past few years, I couldn’t scroll through my Instagram timeline without seeing young, successful, and ridiculously good looking bloggers posting flawless photos every morning with captions like, “Rise and grind! A new week is here!” or “Monday morning work out to get my week started off right!” or “Morning coffee with my morning meetings!”
And because of this, I was under the impression that working life was pretty much exactly like Suits and I would be Rachel.
Now, lucky for me, I was actually one of the few people I know (and probably in the entire post-grad world) who scored a “real person” job right out of school, with no quick stint back to my 16-year-old lifeguarding days in between. Thankfully.
Thus, my introduction into the working world came fast and hard. And it came with a lot of cable TV in the background.
Yes, that’s right. The first job of my real person, adult, sophisticated life requires me to work from home. Every day. Five days a week.
While many of my friends and family preached about how lucky I was, after the initial thrill of working in an adult role (with an actual company email address!!!), I started to slowly realize that I am not, in fact, Rachel from Suits, and I was actually starting to resemble someone who just never showers.
Although I was still very productive, after the first few months, I knew it was time to stop being horizontal for 8 hours a day, and to start thinking of that
make up stand desk in my bedroom cluttered with mascara and bobby pins as my “home office.”
It’s been 7 months now since I started my job (and 4 months since I started working from a desk), and I have learned many little tricks along the way that I find incredibly helpful when working from home. Whether you work from a home office all the time, or just on the occasional Friday when you’re feeling “sick,” here are some tips that have helped me stay motivated and even more productive than when I’m in the actual office!
How To: Stay Motivated in a Home Office
1. Have an Actual Home Office
As I mentioned above, it was very easy for me to get into the routine of working from my bed when working from home. Falling into this trap can be even more dangerous for those who only work from home on occasion, as it can feel like a day off from actual work.
Having a designated home office is imperative to getting real work done and being as productive as possible at home. Think about it: when you work from home you have no coworkers, no office politics, no lunch hour, and pretty much nothing to distract you from getting way more work done than usual. Your home office doesn’t have to be a full room, even just a desk and chair will work, as long as you find a space that is yours!
2. Have a Routine
Even if you don’t work from home all the time, having a routine for when you do will help you stay motivated and recognize that working from home is an opportunity to get even more work done than you would in an office.
As someone who has eaten the exact same thing for breakfast Monday-Friday for the past 8 years, I am a creature of habit and am addicted to routine, and working from a home office has definitely enforced that.
In terms of where to start with a routine, make a structured plan for your day broken down by hour, so you stay on track and look forward to then next small thing that you enjoy, like eating lunch or taking a break.
3. Get Dressed
As I mentioned earlier, I worked the first few months of my job from the comfort of my bed. Once I took the step to actually work from a desk, I felt a bit better about myself, but not as good as I could have, because TBH I still wasn’t showering.
My wake up call on this front was when my mother came to visit, and instead of taking me shopping for new clothes, she took me shopping for new pyjamas because “let’s go buy you some new work clothes! hahahahhaahahahhahahahahahahahha.”
It was then that I realized my daily attire consisted of PJs and slippers, Monday-Friday, every week. Hung over or not.
Once I decided to get dressed in the mornings, I felt infinitely better about myself. If you don’t change out of your PJs, it can feel like you aren’t even working, which will make you feel bored and useless.
So please, for your own sake, put on some leggings at the very least.
4. Take Breaks
This is by far the most important tip I can give when it comes to working from home.
While working in an office provides you the opportunity for human contact, water cooler conversation, and a change of scenery on your lunch hour, working from home does not. When you work in an office, you take little breaks all the time without even realizing it. This makes the day more enjoyable, less tedious, and go by much faster.
Working from home means you have one, long, lonely day ahead, and no human contact can really get to you. Therefore, it is so important that you take a short break in the morning, a break for lunch, and a short break in the afternoon. This will increase your productivity and decrease your resentment towards your job.
And by “break” I don’t mean lie in bed scrolling through Instagram.
I mean go for a walk outside, go to the gym, go out for lunch with a friend, or even just run across the street for a coffee.