10 Healthy Habits for Working from Home
Working from home has its benefits and its downfalls. Whether you're just starting working from home, or it has become your new norm, I'm sharing 10 habits I've implemented to staying healthy (and happy) and making the most of working from home.
The shift to working from home affected almost everyone. Whether your “home employment” situation only lasted a short period of time or, like me, you’re continuing to adjust to a 100% work from home routine, it can be tough to get settled into the new routine.
As of January 2021, I’ve been working full-time from home for 16 months, and almost 10 of those months have been during the various stages of Covid-19 lockdown measures.
During this time, like many others, I’ve gone through various stages of emotions related to working from home and tried (and failed) at implementing many different healthy habits.
At the end of 2020, I decided to really put a focus and priority on implementing some easy but effective routines into my daily work-from-home regimen. Now that it’s a new year, I figured I’d share them here to hopefully help others get inspired to forge some new healthy habits, but also to help keep me accountable!
My 2021 Healthy Habits for Working at Home
Take Care Of Your Eyes
Designate a “Work Space”
Create Manageable To-Do Lists
Get Dressed (actually)
Move Your Body
Get Some Healthy Snacks
Set A Routine
Try the 20-Minute Trick
1. Take Care of Your Eyes
If there is one piece of advice I can give you if you work in front of a computer or screen most of the day, is get yourself a good pair of Blue Light glasses.
Not sure what I’m talking about? These lenses block the unhealthy rays from our beloved screens that hurt our eyeballs and let me tell you - they are the real deal. I got my first pair almost 5 years ago now and my eyes (and brain) are so thankful. I notice an immediate sense of relief when I put my glasses on in front of the computer. Before I wore these, I would get headaches in the afternoon and burnout from staring at the screen, but now they are an absolute necessity to my workday.
Eye health is super important and an often overlooked detail when it comes to our work from home lives but keeping your peeps in tip-top shape is incredibly important to be able to maintain a long-term screen relationship.
2. Designate a Work Space
This one is a common piece of advice when it comes to working from home success.
Yet, the reality is that not everyone has the luxury of creating a designated workspace. So what can you do to “create a space” even if it’s also your kitchen table or living room coffee table?
My advice is to have items that signal “work” and use them only when you are dedicating time to your workday. Maybe it’s a reading lamp that is only on when you are working or a candle that you only light during the day, this can help associate your brain with “work time” and when the workday is done, get rid of them. Turn the light off, blow out the candle, put the computer under the couch, whatever it is, make sure they are off and out of sight so that you don’t find yourself working throughout the entire day.
3. Create Manageable To-Do Lists
I’m the biggest proponent of to-do lists.
Literally, whatever the reason, I will frequently recommend trying some sort of list to help with the task at hand. Making sure I feel successful throughout the day largely hinges on my list-making tendencies and the associated elation I feel when getting to cross something off my list (is this just me?!).
Unfortunately, a lot of the projects I work on are not “one and done” items so it can sometimes feel like I am not making any progress on my tasks because I’m never quite done with a project. How do I get around this? By breaking down large tasks into smaller to-do list items helps me mentally tackle each task I need to do but also gives me that burst of dopamine I crave when I cross something off my list.
Make sure the tasks are manageable (edit blog article or complete search analysis)
Write out tasks each day, if you didn’t get it done you can’t cross it out until it’s complete or you move it to a different day
If you know you aren’t going to finish any large tasks in a day, make a list item for small things. Being able to cross even one item off can feel great
4. Stay Hydrated
If you’re like me, you can go hours without getting up from your computer or taking a break. This usually means I come out in a daze of dehydration because I haven’t drunk water in hours. I make sure to keep a water bottle in my eyesight at all times and have markers on how much I need to drink each hour. This helps me stay on top of my water intake and stay hydrated which helps me focus and keep a clear head.
My other go-to work from home drinks:
5. Get dressed (actually)
One of the joys of working from home is that sweatpants are an acceptable dress code most of the time. Even if you have a video call, there’s really no need to change out of your sweatpants. Throw a nice top on and you’re good to go!
For me though, I find that when I stay in my comfy clothes all day, my mind kind of stays in that zone too and it’s much harder for me to get to work. On the days I get up and do my hair and makeup and (gasp) wear real pants, I find my productivity tends to increase as well.
That’s not to say I get dressed up to the 9’s each and every day, but I make it a priority to change my clothes after my morning coffee and do my hair (and sometimes makeup) before I sit down at my computer for the day.
This might be a controversial one but for me, getting physically ready for the day has definitely helped me get mentally prepped as well.
6. Move Your Body
It’s one of the first tips you will always hear from “experts” about working at a desk, be that at home or in the office. They say, “exercise is key”. And I get it, exercise is key, but sometimes I feel like the walk downstairs and back to my kitchen is too much of a journey that this piece of advice can sometimes feel forced.
That being said, I also do have a healthy respect for the benefits that movement and activity have and I know that when I do get my butt in motion, I inevitably feel better. Ensuring that I make time to move my body during the day has been a priority for me since I transitioned to working from home and I’ll be the first to admit that some days are more successful for me than others when it comes to being active.
Some days I’m up at 6, taking a peloton class and then a weights class all before 7:00 am, and feeling chipper and energetic throughout the day. Other days though, I’m essentially a slug that makes no unnecessary trips up and down the stairs than is absolutely necessary. I typically fall somewhere between those two mediums of energy.
What I have been able to find are 2 foolproof daily activities that get my butt moving, even when I’m feeling lazy.
The first perhaps is not so much by my own choice, is taking the dogs for a walk. As you may know, I have 2 “large and in charge” Pitbulls. And, though one is content to sleep on my heated blanket under my desk all day, the other will not so gently remind you when it is time to burn off some sassy energy. So grabbing the leash and heading outside, unless it’s minus 25, is a sure-fire way to boost my energy with some movement.
The second, as lame as it sounds, is to blast my favorite song and shake my booty for a 3-4 minute dance party. This is the best solution when I am in one of my slug moods and need to power up. My husband thinks I’m crazy and my dogs leave the room, but sometimes a quick dance break is all I need to re-energize and power through my afternoon.
7. Get Some Healthy Snacks
Anyone else out there a compulsive snacker? This has probably been one of my biggest hurdles working from home. I’m a food grazer, meaning I don’t eat a lot at one time but I like to munch throughout the day. Being at home and having unbridled access to a stocked kitchen all day has been a challenge.
Feeling bored? Go get a snack. Stuck on a project? Take a break and get a snack. Need a pick-me-up? SNACK! The answer always seems to be to grab a snack, but if I’m not careful my snacking habits lead to unwanted lb’s stacking up. I’ve had to make some changes in my weekly grocery shopping habits to picking out snacks that’ll leave me satisfied but also ones that are relatively healthy.
My two favorites: peppers with cream cheese and all you can eat bagel seasoning (thanks TikTok) and apples with a scoop of peanut butter. One hits my salty cravings and the other satisfies my sweet tooth. Both are enough to curb my snack cravings and neither are chips or cookies!
8. Set a Routine
This has been a lifesaver for me.
My first few weeks of self/home employment were a blur of constant breaks, lunch meetings, errand runs, and coffee visits, without much actually being accomplished. As I moved out of my initial celebration phase, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to be very successful as a solopreneur if I didn’t figure my shit out and set a schedule.
In the past, carving out a routine has always come really naturally to me, so once I brushed off the dust of creating a routine, this thankfully came relatively easy to me.
I bought myself a cool little habit tracker (I love to write everything out) and wrote down what my ideal routine looked like. Making sure I incorporated daily fitness goals, reading habits, break times, water intake, etc. I came up with a routine that ticked all my boxes and one that I would be able to maintain over the long run. Having a clear layout for my days helps me to tackle each day with a clear intention and I feel much more accomplished knowing what is in store for me each day.
Do I stick to it EVERY day? Honestly, no. But more or less, having a set routine in place during the week helps me accomplish what I need to get done without falling down the Netflix tunnel or scheduling too many “Zoom Happy Hour Chats”.
9. Try the 20 Minute Trick
I’ve been using this trick for a few years now and it’s been a lifesaver in times when I just can't seem to focus on a task that needs to get done.
If you aren’t familiar, the 20-minute trick is based on the idea that it's harder to stop working than it is to start working in the first place. So if you can convince yourself to work on something for 20 min and then quit, it’s easy to start the task and when the 20-minute mark rolls around, you usually find that you’re on a roll and it’s harder to stop the task then it is to just keep going.
This is my favorite trick to use when I’m working on a writing project and I am struggling with a bit of writer’s block. I have an hourglass on my desk that is timed for 20 minutes. So when I’m struggling, I flip that over and just start writing and am usually pleasantly surprised to find that after the first 5 minutes or so I get into the groove and don’t even notice when the time has run out.
If you haven’t tried this trick before, give it a go! Set a timer on your phone, turn it over, and get to work and see what happens!
10. Treat Yourself
Working from home can get draining. You aren’t seeing your coworkers during the day (or like me, you might not have any coworkers) you can get bored or overwhelmed, so it’s important to take care of yourself.
This looks different for everyone. Sometimes for me, it’s going to grab Starbucks when I complete a big assignment or giving myself a manicure while I watch a webinar. Finding small ways to take care of yourself when you work from home is super important.
When all else fails, I go in search of puppy snuggles to give me the pick me up I need.
I hope some of these work from home habits help improve your work from home life! Let me know your own work from home tips and tricks!