Life has changed. And it may never be the same again. Many of us may find ourselves working at home more after all of this is over - whether we want to or not.
So our #bosslady wanted to share her tips on how she stays motivated and productive while working from home (and avoids the cookie jar or wine cupboard!).
Essentially, what you want to do when working from home doesn't change all that much from what you want to achieve when working at your place of work. The goals are still the same, it's just the way you achieve them that changes.
Goals for working from home successfully:
Maintaining your mental and physical wellbeing
Being productive and achieving your work goals
Maintaining a work-life balance
To achieve these things, it's all about commitment and drawing some boundaries. Here are the top tips.
1. Dedicated work space
If you can, create yourself a dedicated work space. Preferably with a door so you can close out home life and focus on work life when you need to.
If you don't have a spare room you can turn into a home office at this point in time, convert a corner of another room into an attractive and workable workspace.
Items around the home can often be repurposed and with a little paint and some styling they can look very nice and function quite well.
Aesthetics can be an important way of getting your head in the right space for work and more importantly enjoying working from home.
Courtney painted an ugly old Ikea trestle table destined for the curb and collection by a passerby who would give it a new life, white and decorated it with things she had around the home to make it a more attractive space for her to work.
With a few items repurposed from other parts of the house (and often really inexpensive things she bought on a whim!) she's created a really beautiful work space that FEELS amazing when she sits down for work each day. Very motivating and definitely helps her get her head in the game for the day. She creates a sense of feeling LUCKY to be able to work in this space. And that is a great way to start the day!
She also uses essential oils to create a motivating and uplifting scent that signals, this is the work space, this is work time, and let's get it done! Work can also be stressful at times so blends with lavender, chamomile and other calming oils can be a great way to try to promote a sense of calm in your work space.
2. Dedicated work hours
Creating a strong routine while working from home will be essential and this all starts with your work hours. Test these out and see what works for you if your workplace is flexible.
Courtney has adjusted her work hours to start a little earlier and finish a little earlier than she used to lately because she finds she's still waking up at the same time and it leaves plenty of time for her morning routine without the additional commute time.
Ensure everyone in your home is aware of these work hours and respectful of them. Equally, you need to be respectful of them! Which means finishing when you should be finishing and not succumbing to "work creep".
3. Establish a strong routine that gets you in the right frame of mind for work
Equally as important as being productive and motivated is your mental and physical well being.
You need to enjoy working from home! Turn it into an amazing routine that you love doing each day.
Courtney sets her alarm for 7.30 but wakes up naturally any time between 6.30 and 7.30am.
She gets up, throws her PE Nation on (so she's ready for a workout - do it straight away so there are no excuses - this is a tip she's learned), makes a coffee and either sits in her backyard to enjoy it or takes it in a travel cup on a walk around the neighbourhood with Miko (her boisterous Akita).
When she gets home from her walk, she feeds Miko but doesn't take her shoes off and settle into the comfort of home! She works out! Even if its just for 25-30 minutes. She will do some weights or if you don't have weights you could use all of the exercises we gave you during Fit Feb (see previous blogs) because we purposely gave you equipment-free exercises so everyone could do them regardless of what you may have at your disposal!
On the days where she is too sore from her workout or feeling low in energy, she will do a 30 minute yoga flow instead.
Anything active will help - this is as much about shifting your mindset from home life to work life as it is about counteracting all the sitting you're likely to be doing with movement and stretching at the end.
Once she's completed her work out she jumps in the shower because she finds if she doesn't, she'll work in activewear all day. And there's nothing wrong with that especially if it helps you get all the things you need to do done without excuses (eg exercise, regular stretching, walking the dog etc) but she finds tip #4 below works well for headspace and motivation, especially if you're feeling isolated or lacking in motivation, or struggling to get that productive, creative vibe back.
4. Dress for success
We all know that when we look good, we feel good. It's a no-brainer and why fashion is a multi-billion dollar a year business!
But there's also a practical side to it as well. If you are not dressed, you won't be ready fro opportunities when they come your way. A new client who wants to skype/zoom, a colleague who wants to collaborate and help you get your work done but you're not quite nailing it via email and the deadline is tonight. Do you struggle through on your own (in your pyjamas!) and submit something substandard or are you dressed and ready to Zoom, work with your colleague, nail it in half an hour and submit something well thought out and impressive?
So get up, dress up and show up!
Working from home means you don't have to be completely office-ready. You can still dial it down a notch and be a bit more comfortable but still stylish and presentable.
So take advantage of it while you can but don't drop the ball because you're slouching around in your pyjamas or sweatpants all day.
Below are some of Courtney's favourite work from home outfits at the moment! All available in our work from home edit.
This was Courtney's work from home outfit on Thursday - the Camilla Cobra King Embellished Knit and PE Nation Refresh Skirt allowed her to go straight from work to dinner.
Courtney loves her Camilla Cobra King T Back Singlet and Harem Pants for a super comfortable work from home outfit. The harems also pair beautifully with the Apero Brooklyn Tee and a blazer for those conference calls!
She has been wearing the Camilla Flight to Amun Ra Poncho A LOT from home and says "it's like wearing a warm hug!"
The brand new PE Nation arrivals have already become a staple in her work from home wardrobe for those more casual, highly functioning days where she goes from dog walking to exercise to work to dog walking. Great for the midday yoga and stretching breaks too!
Another great work from home outfit to go from office to Friday night Zoom drinks or Frock Up Friday! The Camilla Mirror Mirror Bomber gives the Racer Back Dress a slightly more work-worthy, polished edge but still fun and very motivating!
For casual and comfy work from home days Courtney is loving her PE Nation Short Corner Skirt and brand new Apero Femme Beaded Tee. The Bali Artisan Collection range of slides are staples in her wardrobe at the moment too because they're like wearing work appropriate slippers! Comfortable, but still distancing yourself from that slouchy home PJ life that is no good for work productivity and motivation!
Don't hurt yourself just because you don't have all the expensive equipment and expert help that you would have at work. It's just not worth it. Where we used to have equipment provided for us and work, health and safety experts looking out for us, we now need to educate ourselves and seek help where we need it!
Things to look out for (and FIX) because they WILL cause you back and neck pain:
Chair type, support and height in relation to desk, computer and where your arms rest while you're typing
Laptop, keyboard height (to ensure your arms are at the right angles to your body to avoid back, neck and shoulder stress)
Height of screens and distance from your eyes
Foot rests if required
Reach out to your workplace if you need help - many are loaning out equipment like chairs, footrests etc while you're working from home because they're not being used in the empty offices all day!
Watch this handy video on desk set up and stretches to avoid pain.
6. Take regular breaks
It's really tempting (or at least easy to do) to sit at your desk and work and work for hours straight once you're working at home.
Courtney found because her office space was a) inviting and lovely and b) now the singular place where she did ALL of her work, she was not taking enough breaks and the constant sitting in the same environment, same position etc took a toll on her back. It took a few weeks of yoga and regular physio appointments to relieve the damage she had done!
Because her office was now where she worked 8-10 hours a day on average for her corporate job AND the place she also worked 4-6 hours a day for us (as well as the place she did her online shopping, paid her bills etc) she found she could easily be sitting there for 8-16 hours straight with only short breaks for a drink or to get something to eat (usually eaten back at her desk).
This took its toll on her back and caused her real pain.
To avoid this happening again she sets reminders in her calendar to take regular stretch or meditation breaks. 3-10 minutes 3 times a day.
Sometimes she even does a short yoga flow. Her beautiful friend The Yoga Botanica created this 30 minute yoga flow to counteract sitting for us! Courtney does this every second day to make sure she is taking care of her back.
She also loves the short flows for the daily breaks. This has multiple benefits - it's a physical and mental break and helps you re-engage in your work instead of zoning out.
And a super quick one...
In addition to that, Courtney sometimes uses these quick breaks to throw on a load of washing of unpack the dishwasher. Sometimes in her lunch breaks she's been heading outdoors to do some pruning in the garden. Breaking down her home chores into small chunks has helped her get on top of home life, while taking the physical and mental breaks from work she needs, and by the time the weekend rolls around a lot of her chores are done and she can actually enjoy her weekend and get some down time! This is how the work from home life has been helping to restore some balance to her life. Don't underestimate how much these little things can give back to your life. Imagine if, in your lunch break, you got up and made the kids lunches for the next day, or zipped the vacuum cleaner around? You're giving your back the break it needs from all the sitting, your mind the break it needs from work, your eyes the break they need from the screen AND getting ahead of your work for the next day or the weekend so you can enjoy more time with the family or for yourself.
Imagine if you spent that 15 minutes of lunch making time the next morning, sitting and actually TASTING your coffee with your husband. Having a conversation. Asking the kids how they're going.
And when the weekend rolls around and all your vacuuming, mopping and bathrooms are clean and you have dedicated time aside to take the family on a picnic or cook up some tasty treats for a family movie night, or a zoom wine date with your girlfriends.
Which leads us to work from home tip number 7...
7. Make working from home WORK FOR YOU
For some of us, this change has been scary, unsettling, disconnecting and not enjoyable but you have an opportunity to change that and make it WORK FOR YOU!
Some of us have struggled to balance our work and home commitments for quite some time. Working from home is now the opportunity to put some of these tips and tricks into play and derive some serious benefit from this situation.
Like we said above, regular breaks are so critical for your mental and physical wellbeing, and for your productivity and motivation, so why not use them to help lessen some of the home load at the same time. This is like FREE TIME. You didn't get this opportunity when you were working out of the home. At best you may have been able to pay some bills online or duck to the bank in your lunch break.
Now you get to do some of the at-home things that take up valuable quality time after work or on weekends.
This is the single most valuable tip we have for turning your views of working from home its head and really appreciating the opportunity - which is great for your mental health while navigating this change.
Do some of those quick chores in your mental and physical breaks from work and see how much non-work time you get back! To journal after work each night reflecting on things you're grateful for and the emotional burdens you don't need and are going to let go. To sit and TASTE your coffee in the morning, maybe outside in the garden with the morning sun on your face and a furry friend keeping you company (probably in a BEAUTIFUL, well-kept garden space now because you've been able to keep on top of the mowing, weeding, planting and pruning!). To spend with your family members REALLY engaging, with time up your sleeve. Not rushing from one thing to another or trying to chat with the kids/hubby while throwing a load of washing on. It's done! So you can sit in the lounge room and have a REAL chat. Holding eye contact. Slowing down your interaction. REALLY listening and letting the conversation flow without purpose. Just to connect. Just to understand. Just to support.
Working from home has so many benefits for us if we do it well. For our mental health, for our relationships, for our homes, and for our work and productivity.
Create a space that motivates you, dress for success, show up for life every single day and take advantages of those opportunities to buy back your home time and tell me you don't love it in a few weeks time! I'd be so surprised if you didn't!
I love it and I'm a natural born extrovert! So isolation has been tough for the extroverts but the other benefits are plentiful and invigorating. And I want you all to experience that.
Let me know how you go! I'd love to know what little changes you have made since reading this blog post that have had a positive effect on your work from home life. Share your tips and tricks below! Sharing is caring! That's why we have our Frock Up Friday sessions on instagram and this blog on our website!
Have a wonderful week ladies and can't wait to see you all again next Friday!