Every time I end up working from home, I often find myself fighting one of my biggest enemies: ROUTINE. Or rather, in this case, the lack of it.
I mean, yes, when it comes to time management, I am quite adept at getting things done. I meet most of my deadlines (barring some hiccups when unforeseen events occur). In fact, I prefer to complete things ahead of time if I could. I like performing to the best of my abilities.
But, certain aspects of my life do pay the price sometimes. Especially whenever I work from home.
With no clear work/home boundaries, the lines between personal and professional times blur in a big way. And, when this happens, the side that suffers the most is the personal side. You see, I often end up taking the time to meet my boss'/clients'/colleagues'needs. And, of course, my kids' and hubby's needs. So, with all of these things happening, I often forget to look after myself.
There were many days over the last few weeks, in fact, when I sat down at my desk after helping to get the kids and hubby get ready for their days - preparing their breakfast and packing lunches - and then me getting ready for my own work, and then forgotting to eat my own breakfast and lunch. Yes, I started work and before I knew it, it was 2pm. Lunch time became 3pm. Not the best thing to do, really.
Then, recently, I started noticing little niggly things. I was beginning to experience some aches and pains. My moods were getting more and more unpredictable. My sleeping pattern has started going all over the place.
Thankfully, I recognised the signs immediately. Having been here before, I knew that I was beginning to fall into that work-from-home bad habits trap.
This time, though, I am determined to get it off my system.
One of the areas that I wish to look into is how I spend my working day. That's why when I read the article, What Successful People Do on the First Hour of Their Work Day, a few days ago, I found it really interesting. And, I immediately knew that I needed to give some of the suggestions a go. For example:
Stop checking emails on the first hour of the day. This is a very hard habit to break. Like many others who keep a tablet and a smartphone next to the bed, checking emails and social media had become a habit over the last few years. Since my work is primarily online, I have used this as an excuse to keep myself connected as much as possible. And yes, that means habitually leaning over to get my device first thing in the morning, even when I am barely awake. Early this year, I tried to stop this but, I lapsed and got back in to the habit after a couple of months. I am trying this again, and I hope that this time it will stick. And yes, it's no emails and no web overall... So, no Twitter, Facebook, etc within the first hour of my day at least.
Engaging in some kind of physical activity within the first hour of my day. Everyone who knows me knows that I am not exactly crazy about exercise. But, I am really trying to make this really important now. Well, if it's true that too much sitting can kill you, then I am definitely in grave danger now that I am working from home and I have significantly cut down on my commuting and walking time.
Unfortunately, the only physical activity that I really enjoy is dance. However, my schedule at the moment doesn't permit me to attend dance classes. Also, the dance studio that I used to go to is in the city, so now that I no longer work in the city, it is more of a logistical challenge to go. Yes, it sounds like a lame excuse. But, with a new business to build, a growing client list, new projects, two young children, a postgrad degree to finish, and a household to run, something's got to give. The dance thing just has to go for now.
However, my aches and pains are not something to be ignored, so I decided that regardless of enjoyment factor, I will try to do more exercise. Even if it's just 15-30 minutes a day. I know I've been here before and I keep falling off the wagon. But, I am back on it and hoping to stick with it longer and longer each time until physical activity becomes more of a habit.
Name 10 Things To Be Grateful For. Yes, this seems a bit airy fairy, but I think the best part about starting the day with gratitude is that it can put us in a positive frame of mind before we enter our work day. Often, it's so easy to get distracted if we encounter issues at work and/or if we read disturbing or sad news. Putting a bit of positivity at the beginning of the day through gratitude is a good way to remember the things that really matters most.
Start the Day with Breakfast. This wasn't mentioned in the article, but with some alarming signals being sent by my body to let me know that I am not doing anyone any favours with my unhealthy eating habits, I have decided that this is something that I need to do. I have never been good with eating breakfast. And, I am worse when I work from home. I guess, I often find myself just wanting to get started with my work and forgetting about eating. Not the best idea. So yes, breakfast within the first hour or so of my day.
With my determination to lead a healthier, more balanced work-life routine, I have also put a few other things in place to avoid ending up with the same issues that I faced before.
For example, one of my biggest issues in the past was ending up staying indoors for a week or two straight (true story!). To make sure that this doesn't happen, I am more involved with some of my kids' pick-ups and drop-offs for school, etc. Most of the time, my good hubby looks after the driving around for the kiddies as part of our division of work. I am not the biggest fan of driving, you see. But, nowadays, I am happy to do a bit more of this and it gives me a good reason to go out and have more time with the kids.
Also, I am making sure that I schedule a lunch out, a cuppa, or a drink at least once a week with a friend, professional contact, or a new acquaintance. Or perhaps, attending an event or organising a meeting.
Oh, and yes, at the moment, I also go out to Uni for my weekly postgrad class.
So yes. So far, so good. My calendar remains quite vibrant, without getting too busy.
How about you? How do you usually start your working day? What does the first hour of your work day look like?
Also, if you work from home, what are your favourite tips to lead a happy, healthy, and productive work-life balance?
Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.