This is by far one of the hardest things to do when you work from home; this is especially true if you run your own business which often means a never ending To Do List. It is always easier to find a reason not to exercise than it is to find one to exercise but there truly is no To Do item more important than your health!
Since beginning my work from home life over 7 years ago I have tried many times to stick to an afternoon workout schedule but I never could because inevitably I'd get caught up in what I was doing and the time would get away from me. So last August I committed to hitting the gym first thing in the morning and it has worked out great. I usually wake up between 6:30am and 7:00am; I set an alarm but I'm an early riser so I usually wake-up before my alarm. I eat breakfast (usually a bowl of Organic Oatmeal and Vanilla Almond Milk), make the bed and then get dressed and head to the gym. I like long workouts so I am there for about an hour and a half to two hours which means I'm home by 10:30am or so. When I get home I make a Vegan Protein Shake with Almond Milk and half a Banana, then I shower and get dressed for the day. So my work day generally starts around 11:30am. I know this may seem like a late start to some of you but it works for me. I find that I am much more productive during my work day when I've gotten my workout in so I actually end up getting a lot more done. Also keep in mind if you don't workout for as long as I do it won't be such a late start.
My schedule may not be right for you but I highly recommend you find one that is and stick to it. Your body and brain will thank you!
2. DON'T WORK IN YOUR PAJAMAS
When I tell people I work from home they often say, "Wow you're so lucky you could just work in your pajamas all day", yes I guess I could; but I DON'T. Now that I go to the gym in the mornings this is less of an issue because I have to shower after the gym but even before that I did not work in my PJ's.
I don't dress like I'm going to work at a corporate office but I absolutely do not stay in pajamas, not even for an hour. I generally wear leggings because I like to sit Indian style and they give me the flexibility to do that but I wear a nice shirt or sweater and make sure that my hair is combed, my face is washed and my teeth are brushed. I rarely wear make-up so I don't put any on but if you are the kind of person who likes make-up then by all means put a little on even if no one else is going to see you. Getting dressed for the day will help you feel good about yourself and therefore you'll produce better work.
3. EAT REGULAR HEALTHY MEALS
Trust me I know all to well how easy it is to get lost in your work and forget to eat but this is quite possibly the worst thing you could do; you, your health, your brain and therefore your work will suffer if you go days, weeks, months, years without eating properly or often enough.
Here's a few tricks that I've found useful to keep my eating habits on track.
- Eat Breakfast. I used to hate eating breakfast but about 3 years ago I started to make myself eat first thing in the morning and now I wake up starving (which is a sign of a healthy metabolism).
- Eat small meals every 3 hours. I'm sure you've heard this a million times but it is key to maintaining a healthy weight and body. It's also great when you have a work from home schedule because small meals generally means your meal prep will be faster which means you can get back to work sooner.
- Set a timer for meal times. This has been the most helpful thing I've done to stay on track. Like many of you my work is creative so it is very easy to get enveloped in what I'm doing and not notice the time or even my hunger pangs. As soon as I eat a meal I set a timer (you can use your phone) for 3 hours. No matter what I'm doing the alarm goes off I am reminded it's time to eat again.
- Don't keep junk food in your home. I try really hard to eat whole organic foods but of course I crave a little treat now and then. The key is to make sure you only indulge in treats every once in awhile and one of the best ways to do that is to make sure you don't have that stuff laying around the house. My husband and I try to have one day a week where we eat something that's not so great for us. We eat it all in that one day and the rest of the week it's not even around to tempt us.
I know this one is also very challenging because it is oh so tempting to make your food and head right back to your desk plate in hand but this is so bad for you for so many reasons.
One reason is that it might take you a lot longer to eat if you are also trying to work which may also mean that your food will get cold or unappetizing and be left unfinished; or you'll be finishing it up when it's almost time to eat again 3 hours later. Working while you eat also causes you to eat mindlessly which is bad for your digestion and metabolism.
You've taken the time to make a nice healthy meal for yourself so now take just a few more minutes to actually enjoy it; your work is not going anywhere, it will be there when you get back.
5. DRINK LOST AND LOTS OF WATER
Drinking water is by far one of the best things you can do for your health! A lot of people don't realize this but the afternoon drag that so many of us experience is actually dehydration. When you're feeling tired try drinking an 8oz glass of water or larger as a quick pick me up. Many people will also feel hungry when they are dehydrated; I know crazy right! Imagine how many calories you'll save if you realized that your hunger pangs weren't hunger at all but really just your body letting you know that it's thirsty.
It's a good idea to drink a glass of water 30mins before a meal to help with digestion. Water also washes toxins from the body, helps to reduce cholesterol, helps the liver and kidneys function, moisturizes the skin, and tones muscles. And ladies guess what, the right amount of water will stop the body from retaining water and that is always a good thing.
So do your body a favor and drink water!
Even living my Veganish lifestyle I find it challenging to eat the daily recommended serving of Vegetables & Fruits which is why I think juicing is so great. I'ts a great way to fill up on all those nutrients without feeling like you can't take one more bite of broccoli.
Please note that unless you are on a juice fast, juice is not a complete meal and should not be used as a meal replacement. I make a Green Juice or Green Smoothie to go along with one of my small meals.
One of my favorite recipes is super simple and so YUM!
- 3 Carrots
- 1 Apple (Red of Green)
- 1/2 Lemon or Lime
- 1/2 Cucumber
- Kale (I don't add a specific amount, I just keep adding until the juice is a Green color I like)
7. TAKE REGULAR BREAKS
Studies have shown that the human brain has a difficult time focusing on a task for more than an hour straight so taking breaks is actually very beneficial to your work.
I try to take a short break every hour or so. Sometimes I stay at my computer and catch up on my favorite blogs or look for some fresh inspiration on Pinterest, Dribbble or Behance. But most times I try to actually leave my desk. I get up and get a fresh glass of water or cup of tea, or I go upstairs and put some laundry in, or I do a few quick Sun Salutations or push-ups or jumping jacks, something to get the blood flowing and my mind refreshed.
8. GET OUTSIDE
When you work from home it is very easy to become a hermit; especially if you are like me and are a homebody to begin with. I am going to be honest and share something I am a little embarrassed about... before I met my husband I would sometimes go an entire week without leaving my house or seeing or talking to anyone; I know sad right.
Well I don't do that anymore. Even in the winter I try to get outside at least once every day; even if it's just to go to the gym or the post office to ship orders. I also like to make time occasionally to meet a friend for lunch or coffee/tea and when it's nice out I LOVE to take walks so I am definitely looking forward to Spring and Summer!
9. KEEP THINGS CLEAN AND ORGANIZED
I am a neat freak so this is not generally hard for me but sometimes I'm working on a project and I pull out paints, pencils, markers, paper and whatever else I might need. Or sometimes throughout the day more and more things end up on my desk or on the floor by my desk and before I know it my office is a huge mess.
I don't know about you but I don't work well if my space is messy and unorganized for a long period of time so I've made it a habit to clean up and put things away before I leave my office for the day.
Speaking of habits, I read The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharpe about 4 or so years ago and I highly recommend it; it is a truly wonderful book!
10. CREATE A SCHEDULE
I've discussed this a bit in some of the other topics but creating a schedule extends beyond making time for exercise, eating, and breaks. It's a good idea to create a schedule for your work day and week in general. Sure your work may change a bit from week to week depending on what projects you have going on but it's a good idea to create a schedule for the task that don't change; particularly because those are the ones that aren't so fun.
For example one of my goals this year is to stay on top of my bookkeeping. I have used Quickbooks for years but have never really taken advantage of all that it can do so every year at tax season I spend endless hours pulling all my expenses together when I could have easily tracked them all year long in Quickbooks. So I've added bookkeeping to my Friday schedule. Every Friday I will login into my Quickbooks and organize the new expenses it has imported from my Bank Account and Business Credit Card.
(BTW if you're curious and are in search of accounting software I use the Simple Start Online version. It is only $12.95/month and it's great! I know a lot of small business owners are intimidated by Quickbooks but I'm not sure why; I think it is really user friendly and I love the look of the new dashboard. And if you use it properly, as I finally plan to, it is an invaluable accounting tool!)
I hope these tips are helpful to you in some way and I'd love to hear how you all stay healthy while working from home.
Illustration by me.