A few of my post-college jobs have allowed for me to work out of the office occasionally, and I’ve always thought I was pretty good at working from home. (I’m self-motivated, not distracted by the TV, try to keep regular working hours, etc.) But this is the first time that I simply don’t have an office to go to, even if I wanted to. Big difference! While there are a whole lot of perks, it can be extremely challenging in ways you might not think of. Over the last few weeks that I’ve been in Chicago, I’ve been figuring out what works best for me so I figured I’d share a few tips and tricks for my girls that work from home, too!
1. Get moving! Kind of a long story here, but I’ve started taking a walk in the AM before I start work and it’s been so helpful. I’ve been kind of nutty about “getting in my steps” each day for the last year or two. My Jawbone band actually broke back in early May, which was right after the whole eviction notice thing. I got busy with the move and I guess I forgot to replace my band. Once I moved to Chicago in July, my new photographer, Melissa, was wearing the new Jawbone band and I decided to pick one up. I’m so glad that I did! I live in a pretty central location and haven’t bought a car yet, so I walk a lot. Or, at least I thought I was walking a lot! Once I got my new band, I realized I was rarely hitting my 11,000 step goal each day with my regular trips to the gym, grocery store, etc. With this revelation, I stumbled upon a little tip that’s been so beneficial with my productivity — go for a walk in the morning! When you’re commuting to an office, you either walk to public transportation, walk to work, or at the very least, walk to your car. Getting out of the house in the morning makes me feel so much more refreshed when I get back to my desk. If I had a dog to walk (wishful thinking), this would be a no brainer. And I actually make coffee at home, so coffee runs aren’t really an option for me in the morning either. So I’ve just started wandering in the morning once I get up! I usually take my coffee with me to go as I walk around and explore the neighborhood. The fresh air wakes me up, and I get in a good chunk of my steps for the day with my 20-30 minute walk each morning. Seriously, it’s a game changer! (Plus, it kind of forces you to change out of pajamas, which brings me to my next point…)
2. Change out of the clothes you slept in! Even if you aren’t showering, and even if you’re putting on workout clothes, at least change out of your pajamas. When I’m working at home, I’m usually in comfortable jeans and a tee shirt. While I’m by no means dressed up, having real pants on makes me feel a little bit more put together than lululemon. 😉
3. Have caffeine and your other beverages of choice on hand! When I worked at an office, there was an endless supply of bottled water, sparkling water, diet coke, coffee, and tea in the kitchen refrigerator. Sometimes you just need to step away from your desk for a few moments, and I’d always find myself wandering to the kitchen to get a drink. Not much has changed now that I’m working from home! I keep my refrigerator stocked with my favorite drinks at all times — Bottled Water, La Croix, and Green Juices. And rosé for when times get tough… Kidding, kind of. 😉 I also keep a variety of coffee and flavored teas on hand for a little caffeine boost. Right now, I’m loving the Café Bustelo Cool cans, that are already mixed with milk. When I’m out of those, though, I just make my own with Keurig K-Cups and almond milk. (FYI — I get my bottled water delivered so I don’t have to carry it from the store. It’s the same price. Total game changer! I started doing this in New York via Poland Spring and now the same company is called Ice Mountain in Chicago. I drink so much more water now, it’s so easy to just grab a bottle on the way out the door, and you’re basically guaranteed to not run out.)
4. Take advantage of having different hours than most! The other day, I found myself at Whole Foods right around 6pm and quickly regretted it. If your employer allows you flexibility when it comes to the exact hours you’re at your computer, run your errands or hit the gym during the day. You’ll actually save time since you’re avoiding the crowds! I try to keep regular working hours and will still workout before or after work most days, but some days, I take my “lunch break” right in the middle of the day and get out of the house for a few hours. Whether it’s taking a spin class, running to the dry cleaner, or even popping in to J.Crew, it’s nice to not have to battle any crowds.
5. Set up a dedicated work space! Right now, my work space is both my couch and my kitchen counter. You can see my old lucite desk from New York in the picture above, and you can see that it’s just covered in a pile of notebooks, folders, cameras, and computers. That “desk” is actually a console table and it’s just not big enough to actually work out. Maybe I’m just a messy worker and need more space, but it’s simply not working for me anymore. Now that I have the space, I ordered a nice big desk back in July, but naturally, it’s on backorder. (Cross your fingers that it comes soon!!) It’s so important to have a dedicated work space that both inspires and motivates you to get work done!
6. Have a go-to spot when you just need to get out! Believe me, if anyone knows the feeling of needing to get out of your apartment, it’s this girl. Living and working from my 300-sq-ft-studio in New York for the last few months I was there was enough to make anyone claustrophobic. Sometimes you just need a change of scenery! In New York, I had plenty of cafés, coffee shops, and hotel lobbies that I loved to work from. I’m still trying to find my spots here in Chicago though. (If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments below!)
Café Bustelo is actually popping up in Chicago for a few days this weekend and I’m so looking forward to working from there later today and hopefully tomorrow, too. Including details below if you’re in the area! — Free coffee, free wifi, and a fun environment… Can’t beat it!
7. Set up work dates or make plans after work! There have been some days where I am plugging away at my computer and realize that I haven’t talked to anyone besides my doorman in the last eight hours. Granted, those types of days are rare, as I usually have calls or meetings throughout the day, but they do happen! I’m lucky to have a few friends in Chicago that also primarily work from home and depending on the week, we will work from one of our apartments or a café if we can swing it. It’s just so nice to have other humans to interact with! I know that sounds kind of crazy, and I wouldn’t say that I feel lonely working from home, but I just go kind of stir crazy and want to be social! Whether it’s meeting a girlfriend for a workout class, going on a date, or grabbing coffee or a drink with a friend, make plans after work if you won’t be seeing anyone all day. It makes a world of a difference! (Or if all else fails, call your mom. I think I talk to my mom on the phone probably 2-3 different times per day. Thanks for listening to me babble, Mom. xo)
Any tips or tricks I’m missing?! Would love to hear your thoughts if you ever have to work from home!
Created in partnership with Café Bustelo