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- Adopting the right habits can make a big difference to your happiness and productivity levels.
- Betsy Ramser Jaime describes the habits that have worked for her while working from home.
- They include breaking her day up into parts, and creating end-of-day rituals to avoid overworking.
Working from home can be an amazing or awful experience.
Whether you love your work tasks or dread getting out of bed each morning, you might be surprised about what a difference the right habits can make.
When I’ve had tricky clients or work, adding habits and activities to my day that I could look forward to made all the difference.
Here are some of my favorite working-from-home habits that have worked for me.
1. Replace scrolling with reading
When I stopped using social media over five years ago, I still had the urge to pick up my phone.
I needed a replacement habit to combat this, and since I love reading, I found it to be an easy substitute.
To make this simple, I made sure that I always had options available to me — either an audiobook on Libby, an e-book on my Kindle app, or a physical book near my computer or desk.
2. Get an afternoon boost of energy from something other than coffee
If you’re used to relying on that second (or third) cup of coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up, try this instead.
I like the combination of 5 to 15 minutes of exercise, followed by a yummy (and decaffeinated) drink like herbal tea, or water with ginger or lemon. For exercise, I’ll do a short walk, a few yoga stretches, or a 10-minute qigong video on YouTube. Then I’ll reward myself with one of the drinks I mentioned above.
3. Break up your day into classes or segments as you did in school
When you were a student, you probably had a fixed schedule with each class, break, and lunch at a particular time.
If you’re someone that likes structure, you might consider creating a schedule like this for yourself as an adult.
When you have an entire 8-hour day in front of you, it can feel overwhelming.
So, try breaking it up. Maybe spend the first hour or two doing project work, take a break, and then spend an hour on emails. Perhaps keep your afternoons flexible and reserve them for meetings, admin work, and any last-minute tasks that pop up.
4. Create time for personal or professional development
Either during your work hours or in your free time, try to have something that you are learning or working towards.
You could do this by reading books, watching YouTube videos, or taking a course through LinkedIn Learning. For instance, I enjoy doing one lesson a day on Duolingo for language learning.
5. Give yourself a do-over whenever you need it
Have you ever gotten off on the wrong foot in the morning and then felt certain that the rest of the day was already ruined, all by 9 a.m.?
If not, please tell me your secrets.
While I do think that the first hour or so does set the tone for the day, it’s never too late to start over.
6. Play relaxing music
My go-to favorites are either classical music or film soundtracks like “Harry Potter,” “Pride and Prejudice,” and “Lord of the Rings.”
Maybe it’s because I’ve been listening to the same music for years, but it’s almost like my brain knows that when I turn on these songs, it’s time to get to work.
The key is to find something that you enjoy and doesn’t distract you from what you’re doing.
7. Track your water intake
Drinking enough water greatly influences how I feel physically and mentally.
One of the reasons why I love using my Day Designer planner is that it has a daily water tracker. But if you don’t have this, you can just keep a tally system on paper or even on your phone.
8. Sprinkle in words of encouragement throughout your day
Most people wait for encouragement that often never comes. Don’t be dependent on your boss, colleagues, friends, or even family members to tell you how wonderful you are. Instead, allow your own opinions and words to overshadow everyone else.
Listen to uplifting audiobooks or YouTube videos during your breaks or while you’re working out. Read books that will help you grow personally or professionally. Then, repeat the words and ideas that you need to hear. Remind yourself that you’re smart, capable, and talented.
9. Create an end-of-the-day ritual
Many remote workers find it difficult to separate work hours from free time, now there’s no commute to end each day.
If you struggle with this, consider a specific ritual for ending your work day. If you use a separate work computer, this might include physically shutting your computer off. Or, maybe you stop at 6 p.m. and immediately go for a quick walk.
You could also schedule an exercise class or call with a friend or family member to force yourself to finish work by a scheduled time.
Be willing to do some trial and error until you find the right habits and systems that work well for you
Don’t be afraid of looking silly or going against the norm. Know that we all struggle sometimes. The key is to pick yourself back up, keep going, and try again.