If you’re like most of the country, you’ve been sent home from the office to work from home due to Coronavirus or COVID-19. Some may think of this as a small vacation, but if you work from home on a regular basis, you know this couldn’t be further from the case. If you are expected to be working from home whether as your own boss (aka entrepreneur) or working for someone else, the responsibility still lies with you to manage yourself so you can be most effective and still run your business or complete your responsibilities. 

So Deevo of Fusion Photography and I thought we would take a timeout from our usual entrepreneurial routine to write up how we manage our work from home  (“WFH”) routine – since, well, we have been doing this for a while now and are kind of experts at it… no to toot my own horn 😉

To get started, we suggest yourself a few basic questions in order to be set up for success during this work from home time: 

  • What sort of a schedule do you want to keep? 
  • Where will I work? As in what room of the house?
  • Should I employ set work hours or should my schedule be flexible?
  • Do I have a quiet, distraction-free area at home in which to focus on my work?
  • Consider setting boundaries with friends and family around privacy and do not disturb 
  • How can you utilize your breaks? Listen to music or go for a walk or do something creative during the break so that you return to work refreshed.
  • What will keep you motivated? Self-motivation is needed to be at the top of your game. Set personal boundaries and goals. With nobody watching, you might get tempted to take it easy at times. 
  • How organized are you? Remember you have to handle various roles.
  • Can you manage your social media interactions?
  • Who would be your tech support? If you are not tech-savvy it is important that you do have someone to fall back upon to seek help.
  • How will you keep yourself fit? Exercise as much as possible. Think of it as self-care because, it is.
  • Can you manage your diet? Avoid reaching out for junk foods; grab your favorite fruit instead.
  • Why is exercise so important? Sitting the whole day with your laptop spells doom for health. MOVE and get fresh air and exercise every day, or as much as possible, to stay fit.
  • Can you handle distractions at home? You have to set rules so that you are not disturbed during work.  The phone and doorbell will still ring though. You should be able to concentrate back on work right after.
  • Should you designate call time? Most definitely! Otherwise, you will find family and friends calling you up at all odd hours.  For them, you are ‘home’… they tend to easily forget about the working part.

Tips for Working from Home

1. Setup a morning routine.
I can’t stress enough to you the importance of establishing a great morning routine, because it will set you up for a successful day — and ultimately a successful life.
A morning routine sets the tone for the whole day, and if you do each day right, you’ll do life right, and I mean, who doesn’t want to do life right?! My morning routine is well worth the time it takes me because like I said, successful morning equals a successful day. I experimented with a few different things and figured out what worked best for me. I strongly encourage you to do the same.

Knowing exactly how the first minutes of my day is going to unfold puts me in charge of the rest of the day because it sets me up for success, organizes me and ultimately makes me more productive.

2. Create/Maintain a designated work space
Creating a designated work space provides a couple of advantages. For starters, it designates where you work and not relax, or play. Second, it actually promotes creativity and discipline when working. This results in more productivity and less distractions. My work space symbolizes productivity and being organized. Actually, part of my morning routine is clearing my desk and other important areas of my home of any “distractions” or clutter. I work better in an organized space.

3. Plan out your day in advance.
Part of my morning routine is planning out the day ahead of me. What are my priorities, what calls do I need to make, what errands do I have to run, etc. I am really working on EXECUTING this year so when I plan out my day I try to only “say yes” to or make time for things that get me a step closer to executing a goal. That being said, I pretty much start out everyday with a goal and make sure my day will align with achieving what I’ve put before me. Your goals don’t have to be large – think of them as small little accomplishments that are you getting you closer to the bigger picture.

4. Establish ground rules for everyone at home as it pertains to your work/environment.
If you have small children or also have a significant other working from home with you, make “rules” around what qualifies as being interruptible during the work time of the day. The key piece to this is sticking to these rules. If you don’t stick to them, they won’t follow them!

5. Take Breaks
Breaks can help IMMENSELY if you work from home! Taking regular breaks will help you make better decisions (by thinking more clearly) Breaks spark creative ideas and new solutions. Taking breaks helps you stay focused over long periods of time. Breaks can help you retain information in memory (important for studying or rehearsing a speech etc.). Additionally, research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns. They include obesity and a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels — that make up metabolic syndrome – so get up take a walk, do some pushups, some jumping jacks, meditate, read, just take scheduled 15-minute breaks.

6. Enjoy Nature
Not leaving your home all day can be mentally tough. Being outside can improve memory, fight depression, and lower blood pressure — Spending time in forests, hiking in mountains, and just being outside can lead to significant health benefits. We all don’t have access to mountains and beaches, so what else can we do.  Take off your shoes, walk in the grass in your backyard. Put your shoes back on, take a walk around the block. Sit and bask in the sun for 10 minutes. Rake some leaves, mow the grass, anything to put you in touch with mother nature. Being outdoors has a demonstrated de-stressing effect. The outdoors can lower levels of cortisol — a hormone often used as a marker for stress as well as decrease heart rate,both beneficial for good health.

7. Eat Well

In theory, it’s easier to be healthy when you’re working from home: no office snacks or donuts, you can cook healthy meals, and work out whenever you want. What a win, right? The reality, however, probably looks something like this: Slumped on your couch wearing workout clothes you never worked out in (or let’s be honest, your pajamas), tapping away on your laptop, and eating peanut butter out of the jar because you didn’t have the time or energy to make lunch. Nutrition is critical to staying focused, energized, and productive throughout the day. It’s hard to concentrate and be productive when you’re hungry or your blood sugar is low. Much like eating healthy at the office, the key to eating nutritious foods at home is to stock your kitchen with healthy foods and meal prep.

8. Make Time for Things that AREN’T Work
When working from home, it can become really easy to focus on work literally all hours of every day. Even if you started out this time thinking it would be a break, you’ll catch yourself falling into this habit. Trust me, it happens. This is why making time for things that aren’t work is vital. What’s the fun of working from home if you can’t actually use the time for GROWTH or development outside of your job? Here are a few things I suggest and try to practice on a regular basis as part of my work from home routine:

  • Get outside and do some yard work! Sounds crazy, but it really can be relaxing if you think of it as enjoying nature rather than a chore. I mean seriously – I could afford to get out there myself. Also spend this time planning out what you want your yard to look like come summer. Plan out your garden and here’s a crazy idea – START YOUR GARDEN! 🙂
  • Learn something new! You know how you’ve been wanting to learn Spanish, but just haven’t found the time? Now is your time. Order a book online (try a local bookstore) or find an online course to get you started.
  • Practice taking a break from social media. Instead of using your off work time to scroll through Instagram, practice putting your phone aside and focusing on one of the other things in this list. It’s refreshing and so good for your soul.
  • Find time for fitness. I already touched on fitness above, but I just wanted to enforce – your gym being closed doesn’t mean you can’t workout. My yoga classes are actually now hosted online. I’m sure there are SO MANY options right now for something similar with all different branches of fitness, just do a quick google search and bam.
  • Read. Two options here: start a new book OR finally finished reading that one that you started months ago and haven’t touched since. I’m sure each of us has a book like that lying around.
  • Meditate or journal or do both. Meditating and journaling are proven to be great for your mental health and life success. Start with baby steps of each and see where it gets you. You may be shocked at how much you like these practices.
  • Spend time organizing. I think each of us has that pile lying somewhere that we’ve been putting off organizing. It could be laundry, it could be mail, it could be images on your computer that you want to print off. Whatever it is, use this time to put some effort into organizing it and rid yourself of the stress that is associated with it just sitting there. You’ll thank me later!

There you have it. Advice from a photographer who works from home when not on location at a shoot. Take a closer look at my morning routine below and let me know what other tips you have to add to this list!