In this first post of our three-part series, Katie explains the six things that help her make the most of (and stay sane!) working from home.
1. Get dressed. I don't always listen to this one myself (sorry, Cecily and Rob -- TMI) but the fact remains: I have never had a productive day without pants. I'm always one to speak highly of the flexibility that comes with working from home, and there's a part of me that's still not over wearing my PJs because I can. But just because I can doesn't mean I should. When I get dressed, do my hair, and put on makeup, I tell myself that I'm ready to work. And when I do that, I can usually get my work done faster -- and get back into workout clothes or PJs sooner.
2. Feng shui matters. I am a firm believer that how your furniture is set up, how your office is oriented, and more broadly, what's around you in your office - matters. I change the orientation of my office around 3-4 times a year, and recently found that it made a big difference to no longer have my back to the door. It matters that I can see the trees out my window, too. (Ok, so I don't know if that's technically feng shui, but it's helpful.)
3. Don't eat lunch at your desk. They say it's bad to do in an office, that you should go to the break room or the common area and socialize a little. While I don't recommend that you talk to yourself too much if you're working from home alone, I do think it helps to separate your space, step away from a screen, and take a moment to yourself. It's a good way for me to recheck myself, too: "Did I just lose time watching funny cat videos or reading Buzzfeed Rewind articles?" Time to step away, grab a bite, and then get back to business.
4. Have a separate space. Not everyone has the luxury of a separate office in their home or apartment, but no matter where you live, you can have a space that's dedicated to working. Because I don't "go" to work, it helps me to enter that separate space. Like getting dressed, it's a little cue for my mind and body: "OK, time to work now." Like not being productive without pants, I've never had a super productive day sitting on the couch with my laptop.
5. Go outside. When I first started working from home, I got headaches all the time. My head would pound, my eyes would blur, and I'd generally feel dizzy and fuzzy. All the time. Then it would occur to me: "Wow, I haven't been outside in 4 days." Thankfully, I've learned a lot about managing stress and working from home since then, and started to exercise more, so this rarely happens to me these days. But I know how quickly I could fall back into that bad habit. The use of solitary confinement is arguably a violation of human rights, so there's no need to impose this kind of torture on yourself.
6. Stand up. Sitting can kill you. Using the Jawbone UP bracelet helps me with this. During the work day, I have an alarm set to go off if I am idle for 45 minutes. You don't have to run a marathon every day, just get up, get a glass of water, and get back to it. But don't take my word for it.