Dang, 2020 has been a whirlwind, am I right? It seems like it’s just one thing after another. However, the show must go on. Many of you have told me you are being told to work from home and are thrown into this without any help. I’m here to help give you some of my top tips for working from home and how to stay healthy in the process. Know that this is just a phase and if you find your productivity goes down and your snack intake goes up, you will be a-okay.
Working from Home
I have been working from home more or less for the last 6 years. I left my job at the hospital to pursue The Sassy Dietitian and every other adventure that went along with it. I am lucky enough to also coach at my local CrossFit gym which allows me to get out of the house most days. However, the majority of the time I am at home with myself and Bode, my dog, of course.
It comes to a shock for most people when they get to know me that I survive working from home. Why? Because I am incredibly extroverted and thrive off of human interaction and group settings. So, how in the world does someone like me work from home?
It’s simple really, I need the boundary in order to get work done. Having people around, while fun, is a distraction for me. That doesn’t mean I don’t talk to anyone, it just means that when I’m at home I get to choose who I talk to and when I talk to them. A phone call is far easier to delay than a desk drive by.
I get that many of you are doing this temporarily but I figued I’d help give you some of my favorite tips for when you are working from home. Of course, I’m going to add in nutrition tips and tricks as well as I know many of you are confused and fearful of your current access to food. Just know that even if you don’t follow all the tips below, this too shall pass and we will make it out the other side whether we eat all the snacks or not.
10 Tips for Working from Home & Staying Healthy
These tips are what I have found helpful for me and for my clients. This list is not exhaustive and I’m sure not every tip will work for you. Use the few that you find the most helpful and get to work.
1. Make a To-Do List & Schedule it Out.
This may sound trivial and simple but, this is the biggest key to my success at home. What I do, is I set the first hour on Monday (or even Sunday night) as my To-Do list o’clock. I write down everything on my mind or that I want to accomplish in the near future. This list includes:
- Weekly Work Tasks: Emails, Projects, Meetings, Follow-Ups, Brand work etc.
- Long-term projects: Food photos, blog posts, Instagram posts, etc.
- Home Tasks: walk the dog, laundry, meal prep, clean the floors, etc.
- Other Things that Need to get done: buy birthday gifts, call friends, grocery shop, etc.
Now, once I have everything I can remember listed, I go ahead and schedule it onto my calendar. I use a written agenda with a back-up google calendar but you can easily do this all online. Once the item is scheduled, I check it off the list. For those items that aren’t as important, or can wait, I highlight them and carry them over to next week’s list. Then I put the list away and get to work knowing that I can add to it at any time but that the priortized work will get done.
Yes, this means I even schedule WHEN I’m doing laundry. When you work from home if you don’t do this you’ll find yourself putting a load in at 10am because you got distracted at work only to find it there 4 days later when you need another mindless break.
2. Find a mourning routine.
You’ve probably heard this on every podcast you’ve every listened to but, it’s incredibly important. You don’t realize that when you went into the office you had a morning routine. You woke up the same time, got dressed, had coffee, drove/commuted to the office, etc. etc. and now that you are working from home there will be change but try to find a morning routine that can be your new norm.
For me, on mornings I don’t coach, I wake up, get dressed, brush my teeth, drink a big glass of water, download a podcast and go on my hour long walk with my dog. When we get back, I make my coffee & grab breakfast (usually overnight oats) and head upstairs to my desk where I start work usually between 7-8am.
Take 5 minutes right now and write out at least 3-5 things you will start doing daily when you work form home. This is as simple as putting on an outfit different than your pajamas 😉
3. Set Boundaries.
Ah, this one took me a while, so it’s okay if you don’t figure this one out quickly, give yourself some grace here. When I first started working from home, okay and even up til last year, I used to work every hour of the day, go to lunch with friends who had the day off, go to open gym or to any class someone else wanted me to and the list goes on.
I had no boundaries.
You have boundaries at work, right? A usual start/end time, a desk, meetings, a set time you can make it to the gym, lunch hour, etc. You probably even have a way to avoid that chatty coworker who gives you just a little too much information.
Set boundaries NOW. Make a designated place to work in your house and leave the computer there. If you don’t have a designated space within your home then make one by checking out some modern shed plans, so you can have a little office away from your house. Set up meetings and write them down. Others who call can wait until your work hours are up. Speaking of work hours, set those from the get-go, it’s okay if they are different from your office, but keep them consistent.
4. Plan your meals ahead.
This one always gets people. They think because they work from home that they will be able to eat healthy whenever they want. The problem is that reality hits, we get super busy, and we end up just either NOT eating or snacking on convenience foods all day.
Listen, if i’m being honest, this still happens to me sometimes, but not often. Why?
Because I plan out my meals as if I’m going to work. That’s right, I pack my breakfast and lunch or at least schedule it for the week. For instance, this week I know I’m having:
- Breakfast: egg sandwiches (takes a little prep)
- Lunch: mac & cheese (already pre-portioned)
- Snacks: pretzels & hummus, Bambas, & apples with peanut butter.
I often write down what I’m having for the week during my to-do list task (see the first tip above) so that I don’t have to think of what I’m having, I already know. Some clients even find success packing their lunch like they do when going to work. It’s okay to veer from the plan but at least having one is a good start.
5. Keep snacks out of sight.
This one is hard, but I highly recommend it. I used to try to work on the counter in my kitchen, but we had to break up. Why? Because I was snacking on anything not bolted down. Once in a while that’s ok but it ended up reducing productivity and making me feel like crap.
So, a few ways to deal with this, especially when you seemingly have so many snacks on hand:
- Make your work space away from the food space (different room, floor, etc.)
- Store snacks in higher to reach places and out of plain sight
- Slice veggies & fruit and have them easily accessible so you reach for them first
- If other people are at home with you, use them as a buddy system 🙂 tell them when you are snacking so that you can be more mindful
6. Schedule in Breaks.
Welp, I took forever to learn this one too, so please, learn this quickly. When you schedule out your week, plan breaks. Do not try to overbook yourself. I used to try to see 5 clients a day while also writing content, working on brand work and trying to keep up with emails. I burnt myself out.
Instead, buffer time around clients, meetings, and projects. Plan to go for a 15 minute walk before or after lunch. Plan when you will work out but also plan WHAT your workout will be. You can even use this time to connect with others, put it in the calendar though, or it won’t happen.
You didn’t think I’d leave out my classic hydration station, did you? Many of you do a good job hydrating at work because you have your routine, you have a water cooler, and you like the excuse to get up every so often to refill and/or use the facilities. Same applies at home.
Staying hydrated can help you focus, keep you feeling good and of course support your immune system. So, find yourself a glass, bottle or vessicle you enjoy drinking water out of. I personally use a large hydroflask cup (22 oz.) and often add a reusable straw in it so that I’m more apt to drink it.
Not a fan of water? Switch it up with some seltzer or added fruit/veggies/herbs to make it more enjoyable. Remember coffee-flavored water is not what we are talking about when we are discussing hydration 😉
8. Stay Connected with Friends, Colleagues & Co-workers.
We are the sum of the 5 people we spend the most time with and in this case it can be so hard to find those people. What I have found helpful over the years is to have MANY connections that I schedule time to talk with on a daily and/or weekly and/or monthly basis.
Besides having amazing friends that I text and/or call on a daily basis, I have other outlets that are helpful:
- Monthly in-person meeting with local female entrepreneurs
- Monthly Zoom Calls with other dietitian entrepreneurs
- Weekly group messages with dietitians
- Weekly calls with fellow RD bloggers
- Daily Marco Polos with friends & colleagues
Find time in your week to schedule these connections as they will only help your work. However, don’t just willy nilly answer calls and texts, set boundaries so you can get your other work done too.
9. Set a timer.
I love this trick. I find it’s really hard to focus when you run a business online. The second you turn on Instagram or Facebook you forget why you were even there in the first place. I set a timer any where from 15-60 minutes when I need to get a task done and can’t seem to focus.
For instance, I am currently on a 45 minute timer to write this blog post. The amount of news and content being pushed right now is insane and setting a timer is the only way I get things done. You can use your phone or even an app that won’t allow you to access other apps/web pages. I just use the timer on my phone and find it’s motivation enough.
10. Manage your expectations.
Now that I’ve given you my biggest tips for working from home, let me give you the biggest one at all. You must continually manage your expectations. You will start realizing how much work is realistic (especially if you have kids home with you) and what you can expect from both work goals and house task goals.
If this is temporary, I suggest trying to get 1-2 things done per day and calling it a win. If this is a more permanent switch, then start applying all the above and also add some time on your list for self-reflection at the end of the week to seee what got done, what didn’t and why. This isn’t a time for judgement it’s a time to learn.
Working from Home and Staying Healthy
These tips are meant to help you when working from home. Know that this will not guarantee health but it certainly will help with your mental, emotional and physical health overall in the long-term.
I am here to help you, so if you need any ideas or feedback on your work at home life, just reach out. Tag me on instagram or shoot me a DM/Email and we will get through this together!
Stay Healthy and Check on your friends!
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