28 November, 2012  |   6 Comments

Working from home, a tip or three

My Monday’s are superduperdays, I’ll give them that.

But for a good chunk of the rest of the week, I work from home. This allows a less intense schedule. Inspired by Pamie’s most recent Weekly Procrastination post, I thought I’d throw my tips on the pile.

Pinot says PLEASE WALK ME.

My morning starts the rest of the week at 5:00 am when I walk the dog.
Being a morning person stunk in college, but I’m okay with it now.

My coffee is 2/3 decaffeinated and 1/3 caffeinated.
(This way I can have more than one cup before inappropriate outbursts.)

I exercise, make the coffee, quickly scan work email for emergencies and make breakfasts for the toddlers. If there’s time, I do morning pages. We get dressed, I take the girls to school and we laugh and yell the whole way through.

When I’m back at the house alone, I eat breakfast (it helps!) and make my daily list.

a Helen Jane work from home tip
Make a list first
My lists are super granular. I break everything down into 30 minute or less chunks of activity. I do it before getting into my email (besides my emergency scan). I list all the tasks to do before nine pm. I don’t let my list cover more than 2/3 of the page so there’s room for the inevitable tasks that pop up.

Every day, I’m surprised when my husband comes home, even though it’s been this way for 3 years. Gah. After realizing I’ve been hunched over the phone or the laptop for five hours straight and my neck probably hurt and my leg was asleep, I installed a stretch timer.

Thus the next tip…

a Helen Jane work from home tip
Set up a Stretch Timer on your phone or your computer 
Bodies weren’t made for all this laptop hunching.
We’re at home! let’s take advantage of our privacy and get a little weird! Let’s swing these meat sack appendages around every 30 minutes or so, it feels good. I use the Stretch Timer widget and/or the timer on my phone.

By 4:30 pm, The pacing outside my office space has worn yet another hole in the carpet. All my people need something. So I take a break and start supper in earnest. When the food goes in the oven, or the food is simmering, I head back upstairs for a work check-in.

a Helen Jane work from home tip
Take advantage of supper
You can make amazing suppers, just by popping in at various parts of the preparation process. Take tiny breaks to chill doughs, whip up desserts and use your food processor in a calm, measured and uncrowded kitchen. Some steps can take only a few minutes — use that stretch timer to your advantage.

By 5:30 pm, supper is on the table. We say what we’re “thank you” for and we eat together.  I love this part of the day.

Lamb Kebabs

Before bed, the girls dance and run and sometimes play Candyland and sometimes play dress-up and sometimes play with blocks and sometimes play babies and sometimes make a Hot Wheels track and sometimes fight and cry.

Just like you and me.

Usually it looks like this:

Then we bathe and pajama and read and tuck.

At 8:00, I check once more into work, as well as my side projects and writing projects and all the little things that seemed fun at the time. This includes working on my presentations, illustrations and party preparations.

By 9:30, I finish up my prep for tomorrow. Depending on where I’ll be, you could find me getting notes, clothing, packing, tomorrow’s dinner and bus fare ready for another day.

a Helen Jane work from home tip

30 minutes tonight is worth an hour in the morning
That last half hour of the day can make or break your next day. Put out as much as you can for tomorrow. I put out my makeup and hair-doing supplies, my clothing, dog walking doodads (leash, bags, coat), the coffee, the girls’ lunches, everything I can.

Hope some of these scheduling tips help you pack a wee bit more into your day.


6 thoughts on “Working from home, a tip or three

  1. 1
    zan says:

    Thank you for these! Especially the stretching tip. I’m slowly becoming a hunchback and it’s uncomfortable.

    The one tip I’d add, and it’s mostly self-reprimanding: Don’t forget lunch. I’m still working from home 9-5, but because I’m already comfortably at home and can just bring a sandwich or snack up to my desk, I seem to take fifteen minutes instead of the usual hour, and it’s starting to – pardon the pun – eat away at me. I’m trying to remind myself to take my lunch hour to do some reading instead of housework, as well, or even just get out and go for a walk; just because you work from home doesn’t mean you always have to be at home!

    • 1.1
      Helen Jane says:

      I could write a month of posts about how to craft a list — but one of the things that goes on there is “eat lunch.” If you’re as addicted to crossing things off as I am, it satisfies self-care AND another line item.

      And YES. There are a lot of benefits to working from home – like being able to go to places by your house during the day — that I think we’re afraid to trumpet, lest they think we’re slacking.

      From what I see, very few of us are slacking.

      Thanks for the tips, lady. I like you.

  2. 2
    Sarah Brown says:

    HJ, this is all illuminating (especially that coffee mix, how did I never think of that?), but I’m dying to know how you put out your hair the night before?

  3. 3

    A morning person, fellow dog person, who also works at home — agree 100% with your tips (except my coffee is 100% caffeinated). I also get my lunch ready the night before….usually plating some leftovers from dinner so they can be warmed.

  4. 4
    joanie says:

    One of my favorite things about the internet is realizing I’m not alone! I also make lists and plan ahead the night before, and I sometimes get so much flack for it from friends! BUT … funny, my life is so much less stressful than theirs. 🙂

    Thanks for the stretching reminder … setting that up today!

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