Develop a daily structure and routine with key hacks to maintain productivity and manage stress.
The great thing about working from home is the flexibility and freedom from rigid structures. The bad thing about work from home is the flexibility and freedom from structures.

It goes both ways.

For folks that have been commuting and slaving away in offices for years, being able to work remotely is such a kick-ass perk. It’s a dream come true.

No scrambling in the mornings.

No rush-hour driving stress.

Sleeping in a bit more.

Working in your PJs or shorts-n-tee.

Browsing the internet freely.

Taking mid-day naps.

Hanging out with your pets.

Having zero office noise.

For the ultimate white-collar slackers, the new WFH set-up is the perfect “pretending to work” scenario.

VIDEO: Pretending To Work From Home
YOUTUBE: The Onion
LENGTH: 1:08
For the majority of folks, this new format of working is such a big difference from how things are in the office that it creates new issues and challenges.

In the office, you have more structure and routine in your day. You get into a rhythm and pace of doing emails, chatting with coworkers, working on presentations, taking breaks, attending meetings, joining conference calls, heading out to lunch, etc.

However, when you’re working from home, all of that normal day-to-day ebb and flow of the office activity is gone. The framework disappears and you’re left alone, mentally wandering and distracted.

Your mind is jumping from work-related tasks to personal interests to whatever bullshit crosses your mind. It’s all over the place. Your mind is like a hyped-up labrador trying to chase down a hundred bouncing tennis balls.

This isn’t good, at all.

And if you want to keep the work from home perk going, you need to get your shit together and be productive while also not getting burned out. And, when you achieve that ideal balance, it’s pretty dope.

Simple Hacks For WFH Productivity & Stress Relief

The term “hacking” originated from the computing industry. It’s when someone illegally “hacks” or breaks into a computer network to download confidential information, plant viruses or wreak general havoc.

Today, it’s expanded beyond that original definition to include other meanings like shortcuts, tips, pointers, etc.

Some hacks are truly shortcut measures to make something easier to do while others are more about saving time, effort and/or money.

These work from home hacks blend a bit of everything with the ultimate aim of creating an ideal work from home balance of focused productivity without all the stress.

1) Easy Morning Routine 

Since you don’t have to commute in the mornings, you’ve got extra time. Lots of productivity resources will tell you to wake up at your normal time and go workout to kick-start your day.

If that’s your thing, go for it. Otherwise, we say sleep in a little, but not a lot.

Leave enough time so that you can have a slow ramp-up to your day. Ya’ know, ease into the morning instead of jumping right into work.

Go for an easy morning walk, have a relaxing breakfast and a cup of your favorite joe before booting up the laptop.

2) Dedicated Working Area

You’ve seen those cliche photos of people working in their PJs on the bed or couch, right?. And you probably know by now that kind of working style just doesn’t work.

The same goes for working off of the living room coffee table - ain’t gonna cut it.

You need to have a dedicated working space in your house. This could be your home office desk, one half of the dining table, guest room, etc. Make that spot your official work zone.

If your living situation doesn’t offer any good options, then consider other free places to work remotely.

3) Prioritize Tasks For The Day

Everyone’s got a shitload of things to do. The task list never ends. So, instead of scrambling yourself across random tasks, focus on your top priorities for the day.

Everything can’t be #1, so prioritize your tasks with the Eisenhower method and focus only on the shit that matters for that day and get it done. Otherwise, you’ll just fall into the trap of doing shallow bullshit work that doesn’t do anything to move your projects forward.

4) Do Micro Exercises

It’s been proven in several studies that sitting on your ass all day long wrecks your health and that it’s important to break up all that sitting with some movement.

In other words, you gotta get up off your ass and move your body throughout the day. Don’t be like Jabba The Hutt.

An easy way to do this is to incorporate easy micro exercises into your working routine. Micro exercises are easy low-sweat body movements that you can do in a few minutes like air squats, going up/down stairs, walking around the block, etc.

These micro exercise sessions can be integrated into your workday via time-based or task-based intervals. The key to making this work - start off really easy, like super easy. This will ensure that you do it every time.

5) Take Real Lunch Breaks

Sometimes you need to power through lunch because of a tight deadline. That’s understandable because sometimes, the shit has gotta get done.

However, there are real dangers to working through lunch on a daily basis. Most notably, you’ll run out of steam in the afternoon and eventually get burned out over the long term.

You need mental down-time. So, on normal days when there isn’t an urgent pressing deadline, step away from your desk and take a real lunch break and get outside for some fresh air. 

6) Monotask Your Work

The concept of multi-tasking seems like something everyone can do. But in reality, based upon science, the brain doesn’t work that way. It can’t do two things at once. It may seem like you are, but in actuality, you’re switching between two tasks very rapidly.

The drawback is that when you’re not focused on one task through completion, you have to mentally reset yourself each time. This wastes mental energy.

The key to making progress is to mono-task your work. By doing this, you’ll be able to get more done with less stress - and that’s the name of the game.

7) Set Boundaries With Signals

It’s Murphy’s Law - you’re working from home, the only time you get interrupted is when you’re on a conference call or video meeting. Figures, right?

Unless you’re single and live alone, you’ve got other people and/or pets to deal with.

Use clear signals to indicate to others that you’re not to be disturbed. This is kinda like seeing the red “ON AIR” light turn on outside of radio studios. Your signal could be a closed door, wearing headphones, putting up a “Do Not Disturb” sign, etc.

Communicate to others in the house that when this signal is up, don’t come by and interrupt. This should work for most humans, but all bets are off for pets.

8) Unplug & Disconnect On Time 

In a normal office workday, there’s a natural end-of-day marker to separate your work time from personal time. It’s the evening commute home.

But with WFH, there’s no commute and thus, no clear transitional activity between work and home. And without this transitional phase, work can often spill over into your personal evening time.

You need to disconnect from work every day and give yourself some down-time to relax and decompress from the day’s chaos.

And having some “me-time” is critical to managing work stress.

9) Backup Your Files

When your computer isn’t hooked up to the corporate network, you probably don’t have the benefit of automatic backups being made. And, not having a backup of your hard drive is not smart.

All it takes is one hard drive failure or virus to lose all of your emails, presentations, excel databases, research, etc. And, if you’re ever experienced this kind of catastrophic failure, it’s soul-crushing.

Don’t take any risks. Cover your ass and back-up your files to the corporate network. Reach out to your IT department and ask how to do this. 

10) Prop Up Your Laptop 

When you’re working your laptop like a drill sargent does to recruits, it can get hot, like really fucking hot. When you’re running several programs at once along with multiple web applications, the processor is getting worked big time.

If things start to overheat, the computer will automatically shut down to prevent damage to internal components. This can lead to other problems.

To prevent your laptop from overheating, prop up the bottom of the laptop so that it has some airflow and space to dissipate heat.

You can tape a pencil along the bottom back edge of the laptop, use spare lego bricks and make legs, place the back edge of the laptop on the spine of a book, etc.

11) Wired Earphones & Mic

Going wireless is definitely the most convenient way to use earphones. But, anything that’s wireless also has batteries that require charging.

And, chances are pretty good that the one meeting you have with your boss’s boss, the batteries will die on you during the call or meeting.

Have a spare set of wired earphones or headphones. They don’t ever need to be charged and they typically perform better than wireless ones.

Use the wireless earphones for your music.

12) Take Eye Breaks

You remember back in the day when your parents would yell at you to move back from the TV? There was a concern that watching TV up close would ruin your eyes.

Well, it’s not actually true, but staring at any monitor or screen has led to a new phenomenon called “digital eye strain.”

In today’s world of computers, smartphones, flat-screen TVs, etc., we stare into monitors of all kinds all day long. More specifically, it’s not staring that causes eye strain but the constant and frenetic eye movement that does.

So, use the 20-20-20 method to give your eyes some relief throughout the day. It’s taking a break every 20 minutes, looking at something that is at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

13) Power Nap

One of the most glorious benefits of working from home is the ability to take a nap during the day. There are ways to nap at work, but it’s not as easy as it is at home.

With WFH, you can easily take a power nap during the day. However, you gotta be smart about it. It’s not just about napping and not getting busted. It’s about recharging your batteries so that you’re more productive for the rest of the day.

Take a power nap during your lunch break. Or take it in the afternoon and make up the time later.

14) Walking Conference Calls

Admit it, you’ve dozed off at your desk during one of the countless boring conference calls. How could you not? Right? You’re required to join but you’re not directly involved. So, your mind starts to drift off, the lights turn down and the drooling begins.

Instead of dozing off, go for a walk during the conference call to invigorate yourself, get some fresh air and light casual exercise.

These non-critical calls are the best kind of calls to take while going for a walk outside. Walking conference calls are the perfect way to get your ass off that chair and move your body while working.

15) Knock Out Chores

Free time in the evenings and weekends are so precious and valuable. Nobody wants to use that free time for chores. It sucks. But, chores are an unavoidable part of life.

To preserve your free time for things and activities that you like, knock out as many of your quick and easy chores during the day as possible. Not all chores are well suited to do during the workday, but here are some of the best chores to do while working. These won’t impact your productivity and can be done in the background while working.

Crossing off a few annoying chores here and there during the week without impacting your productivity will help to really maximize your free time and make your weekends feel longer.

16) Socialize & Bond

Working from home can be a socially isolating experience, especially if you’re single. And even if you’re not, interacting with your family can only go so far and that has its limits too.

So, it’s important to connect and bond with your colleagues.

Every now and then, why not have a short informal chat with your work BFF?

It’s a great way to take a little break and get some laughs in, share your struggles, get advice, shoot the shit, catch up on things, etc.

17) One-Minute Meditations

No matter how busy your day is, you need to take breaks. Even on those days where you’re putting out fires all day long, you need to take breaks so that you don’t crash and burn yourself.

Everyone can spare a minute before and after completing tasks, making phone calls, giving presentations, hosting meetings, reading documents, etc.

You can do simple 1-minute breathing meditations to dial things down a bit. It’s just simply breathing slowly with your eyes closed for 60 seconds - that’s all it takes to lower your blood pressure and heart rate.

18) Snack Healthy

Unlike the vending machine at work, the snack pantry and cupboard at home doesn’t require you to feed money into it. Everything is easily accessible. And, that can be a bad thing.

For many people, snacking while working is part of the daily routine. If you’re snacking on junk food, you’re only making things worse.

You need to snack smartly with healthier options. This doesn’t mean that you should be like a rabbit and only eat dry raw veggies all day. There are tasty and nutritious snacks out there that won’t pack on the pounds.

19) Avoid Cyberloafing Procrastination

There’s no boss looking over your shoulder at home. So, browsing the web, scanning social media, watching the game and general cyberloafing can easily become a bad habit that will eventually get noticed through low productivity.

Don’t fall into the crushing effects of procrastination. Stay focused and get your shit done. You can browse the web during your free micro-moments during the day. Just don’t fall into the rabbit hole and waste hours of work time.

20) Manage Upward

When you’re in the office, your boss can see that you’re working - whether it’s replying to emails, editing a presentation, talking on the phone, etc. Your presence alone is an indicator of your focus and productivity.

With WFH, your boss can’t see you and the progress or challenges you’re experiencing. So, be sure to have scheduled one-on-one meetings with them to keep them up-to-date and get ahead of the curve for any possible upcoming tasks or requests.

You need to manage your boss so that he or she knows exactly what’s going on and what support you need to move your project forward.

Work From Home Hacks Boost Productivity & Happiness

When you’re first starting out with work from home, the structureless nature feels like you’ve escaped the cubicle prison. You’re roaming the open fields of remote work joy.

But after a few days or weeks, that same freeform format starts to show it’s shortfalls through lack of focus, decreased productivity, lower motivation, etc.

But you can beat this by creating your own tweaks and hacks for your WFH day.

And when you find that ideal balance of productivity, focus and relaxation, you’ll get into a rhythm and pace that’s unstoppable. You’ll get in the zone with work and it’ll feel fucking awesome.

So, experiment with some WFH hacks and see what you can do. Get it right and you’ll have a recipe for your WFH routine that can be replicated day-in and day-out.

And when that happens, you’ll become a WFH superstar.

Feel Better,

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