The key to feeling comfy and looking good at home
There’s nothing better than a day at home. I’m lucky enough to work at a company that supports working from home as a method of self-care if you’ve got a long commute, and with my 4h/day travel time, it does take a lot out of you! After travelling to work every day for almost 5 years, I finally resolved to work from home one day a week. To make it work, I blocked off my entire day every week as working remotely, so anyone booking meetings would avoid that day in my calendar. As soon as I did that, my dreams of working from home became a very real, very manageable thing.
I chose Wednesday, because I knew I’d be totally checked out in vacation mode if I worked from home on Monday or Friday! Having my home day smack in the middle of the week gives my body an opportunity to rest and restore after 2 long days on transit, and it feels like a mini-weekend! Last Thursday I walked into work and said “Happy Monday!” to someone—and they laughed and said: “It’s Thursday.” At least I know my theory worked!
This post is a two-parter! Part 1 is my formula for easygoing and effortless at-home style, and Part 2 are my tips on how to productively work from home. Enjoy!
Part 1: Easygoing & Effortless At-Home Style
I made the decision early on that I would always get dressed and ready when I worked from home, no matter what. It seems weird, but it was important to me to feel like I was in a professional environment—like I was ready to go outside, meet with someone, if I ever needed to. Maybe it was that feeling put-together injected my brain with feelings of productivity and confidence. Either way, it became important to always get out of my pyjamas.
Whether you’re staying at home with kiddos or working from home, these outfit ideas are comfy and polished enough to leave the house in a snap.
Wrap pants & sweatshirt
These Free Label wrap pants are made from Tencel, a fabric that’s light and drapey, with a tiny bit of natural sheen that means I can wear it to the office and look professional, or I can dress it down for home with a more casual sweatshirt and a pair of comfy slides. Looser bottoms mean you can cozy up on the couch or in your desk chair no problem! In the summer, sub the sweatshirt for a simple fitted tee and you’ve got yourself an easy, comfy outfit that you can hop out in after work if you’ve got some errands to run.
Linen pants & sweatshirt
I picked up these linen pants from a local maker last year, and while I do sometimes wear them to bed, I love them most for my work-from-home days. This is the same kind of outfit as the last one, just sharing another way it could look if you had multiple loose-fitting bottoms! Simple formula, super comfy, super low-maintenance.
Jeans & fitted tee
Sometimes though, there’s something in me that wants to wear jeans. I adore the vintage pairs I’ve found thrifting, and they’ve got enough give to be comfortable while curled up on my desk chair. With a looser tee, this combo might look too casual or oversized, but a fitted shirt will balance out the mom jeans and create a more streamlined silhouette.
Part 2: How to Productively Work from Home
People I know sometimes ask how I stay focused when I work from home. Don’t I get distracted, or want to do housework instead? The answer is—yes! Of course. That one load of laundry, those dishes…at first, I didn’t know how to manage those urges to get distracted. If I had a busy day at work, I wasn’t tempted at all. But if there was a slower day, it became almost impossible to focus! If you can relate, I’ll let you know what worked for me!
Change your office setup
Turns out, one of the biggest barriers to me focusing was that my desk faced a wall. At work, our offices are open concept so I’m used to seeing motion in front of me. As soon as I reconfigured my home desk so I could see the window and door of the room, my focus improved tenfold!
Have a realistic must-do list for the end of the day
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has a to-do list that’s longer than a page some days. Having a long priority list can lead to weird aimless feelings. I make it my first task of the morning to very clearly identify a manageable to-do list. I’m really conservative, because I know things might get in the way—and it gives me the ability to stay on-target!
Time block your calendar
It’s not that I’m easily distracted. It’s that I’m impatient and need 3 things to do at once in order to feel productive. Ha! I’m the worst. Because of this, I’ve developed a strategy to make sure I have no room to move away from the task at hand. I block my calendar by half-hour or 1-hour intervals, dedicated to a specific type of work or task. These smaller chunks of time provide you with manageable checkpoints in the day, and a little more structure than a whole 8 hours of, well…anything. My goal is to make it to the end of that hour or half hour without looking at anything else. When it’s done, I reward myself with a tiny micro-break.
Take regular breaks
That brings me to breaks! Depending on how demanding your job is, you’ll either find it hard to commit to doing work, or hard to find time to get up from your desk because you’re on a mission to finish everything. Either way, it’s important to give yourself time out of the chair. I almost always get to 5:30pm feeling tense and antsy without knowing why, until I realize I haven’t left the house or stretched very much. Reward yourself after focusing for an hour by taking a little walk around the block or moving around the house! My office at work is a highly conversational environment, so even if I do take multiple walks a day, it ends up occupying less time than I would have spent in casual conversation or in meetings at the office.
DO sneak in a tiny bit of housework if you like!
This, I DO. I use my micro-breaks to get out of my chair and move productively. Even if you get up 10 times in the day to spend 3 minutes putting clothes in the dryer or cleaning up the dishes, it totals up to 30 minutes of the lunch hour or break time you would have taken in the office. So why not get a little ahead?
If it’s too quiet, put on ambient noise or go to a coffee shop
I go through this a lot. Remember, me? The person who needs 5 things to do at once to have any chance of staying on task? Ambient noise and mumbling coffee shop environments give me just enough mental stimulation to keep my attention on work. I swear by Chillhop music as the ultimate focus soundtrack. It is the best ingredient to a productive day. (COVID-19 edit: swap a coffee shop out for a brisk walk in the park or your neighbourhood! It does wonders for the mind and will keep your brain active and body happy ☺️)
Hope you found some of these tips helpful! Happy home days!