Starting to work from home can be like your regular work routine and schedule flew out a window.
You no longer wake up and dart out of bed for the shower at 7:32 after three snoozed alarms. You no longer debate how much makeup is enough and how much is too little. You no longer look at your shirts and consider that they might need ironing before the client meeting.
You also no longer have a commute. You don’t have to warm up the car, or wait for another 6 train because the first one was too full (hear me, New Yorkers). You don’t have to sit next to a smelly person on the bus (this is a good thing).
You don’t have to pack a lunch, and you also can’t do Sweetgreen group ordering with your team. There’s no coffee machine where you say hi to that new person every morning (what’s their name?) because you’re friendly, and there’s no hallway where you typically greet the cleaning staff with the ‘hello’ you’ve learned how to say in their native language.
You can’t gossip with your work bestie over lunch, you can’t grab the team and tell them to go to the pub below the office and meet you there at 6:30 before happy hour ends and you can’t make a mad dash for your spin class (this is getting very real, by the way) in order to not miss the arrival time cut-off.
You won’t be going home tonight knowing that your office is going to be there for you tomorrow, because now you officially work from home full-time, for the first time.
And what’s THAT supposed to look like?
Everyone feels comfortable with a different type of work-from-home schedule, but the best we can do is give you some tips and tell the tale of how to survive working from home. What’s true is that having no schedule at all can be one of the most common mistakes for people who start working from home.
As you read on, we’ll give you a layout of a typical work-from-home day that’s bound to lead you close to satisfactory productivity levels, while keeping you sane and in survival mode. Okay, let’s go onward, to our work-from-home schedule template.
Working from home with your partner? We have a working from home for couples guide for that!
Set your alarm for an agreeable time.
This ‘agreeable time’ is one that you agree to today, and one that you’ll agree to tomorrow. I find that waking up minutes before the first meeting or the first point at which I need to be ‘seen online’ is less than great.
Set your alarm for a time that gives you between a half hour and two hours before the start of your workday (or when you tell yourself your workday needs to start). This will give you time to get ready, feel fresh, feel ready and feel prepared.
7:32 am: Wake up at the time you agreed to, and stop snoozing.
The more you snooze, the more you lose. It’s simple. Snooze more, and lose out on prep time, sanity time, time to relax before the day kicks in and time that could be used for morning rituals.
7:55 am: Use a handful of standard morning rituals.
Morning rituals will give you a sense of balance. Do some of the same things every morning. For me, it’s: put on the NYTimes “The Daily” podcast on a JBL portable speaker while making sure all dishes are done, dried and put away, and that my kitchen is impeccably clean. I do this every day.
Dan subscribed to the Morning Brew email, which has been a great way to get a consolidated update of the news. It’s a great way to check your news all in one place, instead of having to hunt around in various different places.
Your ritual could be: pop out of bed, put on something reminiscent of a yoga outfit, do a 15-minute online yoga warm up (search terms like “morning yoga” on YouTube if you don’t already have a subscription to your favorite online yoga star) and immediately shower afterward.
8:35 am: A morning coffee ritual for working at home.
As a self-proclaimed coffee addict who’s had coffee daily without fail since around age 24, I can tell you that I feel like I’m not yet at work, even if I am, without coffee.
Making coffee at home can be done in a few ways, but we recommend:
- Using a Chemex with a reusable hemp filter
- Using an unbreakable French Press
- Using a ceramic V60 pour over
If you learn to brew coffee well, like we did in this coffee brewing expert class, the art of brewing coffee will already make you feel productive by the time it’s 8:55 am.
9:00 am: Starting your “work-from-home workday” on time.
Start work with a bang, because you’ve already been up for more than an hour. You can do this. You don’t need your office, and you’ll get doses of human interaction throughout the day. (We’re going to tell you how with our human interaction guide).
Sign into your remote desktop, check your various work emails and check updates from clients, vendors and events. It depends on your profession, of course – if you’re a teacher, writer, client services manager, lawyer or developer, this can look very different. Let’s use our imaginations.
10:15 am: Make a plan for having human interactions today.
Mental check: Have you been sucked into writing an article (like this one), doing data entry, creating a proposal or sucked into a webinar? Make sure you’re interacting with real humans in real time, and take a moment to think about your next move.
It could be pinging a coworker, checking in with a client, posting a status update in Slack or proposing an online get-together later in the week with your team.
For a freelance daily schedule, keep in mind if there are opportunities to schedule time with clients, or block off time for ‘no distractions’ from other client work. This is how to make working from home work for you.
10:20 am: Back to work. Plow through until lunch break with productivity tools.
Do you have any meetings? Remember to be present, and to put away your phone, one of our favorite tips for working from home. This is key for working from home productivity.
Scheduling work and meetings from home? Make the most of and benefit from technology, and consider how you can keep up your momentum. Are you using planning tools like Trello? Communication tools like Slack?
11:25 am: Okay, remember to hydrate.
Are you drinking water? It helps you feel energized and less lethargic. Fill up that reusable water bottle, or your favorite drinking glass or jar.
If you opt for another cup of coffee, make sure you are consuming just as much water in order to avoid dehydration or over-caffeination.
12:30 pm: Lunch break! Get up to cook a healthy lunch, or order something to support a local business.
Here are a few things that give us peace of mind while cooking during the middle of the day:
- the joy of dicing onions and peppers
- the satisfaction of fresh quinoa or rice
- the success of frying the perfect egg
- the crunch of a salad with a new self-made recipe for a dressing
- the spice of putting a brand-new hot sauce you ordered online into essentially anything that needs a kick
Cooking makes you feel like you created something, and that’s why cooking can be so therapeutic. Enjoy that you can take advantage of home cooking now, as opposed to the feeling of eating your previous desk lunch at work.
1:15 pm: Shift locations.
Gasp! After all this talk of having the perfect home office setup, we’re now telling you to get up and leave it? In terms of working-from-home-tips for productivity, a physical change of setting can work wonders.
If you have an alternate surface at which to work, or a laptop stand to use on a couch, you can take a break elsewhere in your home, and not lose out on work time. Make sure you gravitate back to your home office set-up for ultimate efficiency.
2:40 pm: Check in with a friend who also works remotely from home.
I hope you’ve been remembering this whole time that you’re not alone in your work-from-home environment. Well, you might physically be alone, but there are thousands of people in the world who do all their work from a laptop in a home.
Text, call or Slack a friend who also has a “WFH schedule,” and maybe it’s someone who has the potential to feel a little bit distanced by work, or professional life or circumstance. Make a connection, and share a remote work tip!
3:05 pm: Break time! Get up to stretch or take a walk.
One of our favorite work from home tips is to choose break-time activities.
This makes it easy to walk by the yoga mat and drop in for a stretch, push-up plank, camel pose or vinyasa exercise.
Not into yoga? Take a short walk, enjoy your outdoor space, meander through your apartment building hallway or run up and down the stairwell steps (as long as it’s not too loud, disturbing any neighbors who also are work-from-home professionals). These are all part of our remote work fitness tips, and we have so many more!
When you feel refreshed, it’s back to work.
4:15 pm: Take a minute to do a daily assessment of your home office environment
How has today been going? How are you feeling about your home workspace?
Are you getting proper natural light, limiting your distractions, avoiding body pains by having ergonomic products and blocking out noise? Keep in mind what you could address by picking up some home office products for coming weeks or months.
5:15 pm: The day is almost over! Put final touches on your work.
I don’t really know anyone these days who up-and-leaves their office at 5:00 pm on the dot. So, if you’re like us, you’re probably still doing things until 6 pm or onward, simply because you chose to take healthy breaks during the day. Hopefully, you have a lot to do.
If you’re a freelancer and your day looks a lot more liberal than the standard corporate office employee who is tied to stricter obligations like meetings, consider making your own freelance schedule template.
A freelance work-from-home schedule should be based on your deadlines with clients, business strategizing and outreach needs. Turn it into a freelance calendar that you can even share with other freelancers.
6:27 pm: Time for a virtual happy hour.
Put an event on the calendar for virtual happy hour either with your coworkers, members of your professional network or your friends.
Use Zoom, Hangouts or FaceTime. Make sure everyone has a drink in hand (seltzer is totally acceptable if you’re addicted to a SodaStream like we are).
Enjoy the human interaction and feel closer to these people than ever before!
6:27 pm: Alternate plan – go for a run
I used to really not like running. I still don’t love it, but after a day of sitting in a sedentary position, I find that I’m so full of energy, I just need to run around the park in my neighborhood, or give myself a destination of a scenic viewpoint where I can see the sun set.
If you own a bike, that’s even better. Snap on your helmet and put on your biking shorts, and get out there, to move parts of your body that haven’t experienced cardiovascular activity since the day before. This is SO important!
6:27 pm: Last alternate plan – do a 60-minute online yoga or pilates class
It depends on your fancy, but if you don’t have the capacity to go for a run, bike ride or stair climb, choose from any of the heaps of online fitness classes that exist online for free, and get down to do some stretching out.
I love trying yoga classes on YouTube as part of my work-at-home fitness routine. Have you ever tried pilates, or calisthenics, or a HIIT workout class?
So many parts of your body tense up, especially shoulders and neck, during a day of work, while your hands are in a typing position.
Give your body a lift and a treat, and make sure whichever route you choose, that you’re being active.
7:12 pm: Cook dinner, and put on a video or TV to keep you company.
For us, there’s nothing like cooking while watching a professional cooking show. We usually default to BonAppetit because the chefs are young, cool and super informative about cooking methods, professional tips and expert food information. We’ve learned so much.
If you have a TV near the kitchen or in the kitchen, turn on Food Network or something related (or, watch whatever it is you like to watch as long as it makes you feel good).
If you don’t have a TV, prop up an iPad or use your phone to watch something long-form on YouTube (again, BonAppetit comes highly-recommended, by us).
7:56 pm: Eat dinner with a virtual friend date.
Surprise a friend with a dinnertime FaceTime call, or plan ahead of time to eat dinner “together.” FaceTime can be so cool because you could be eating dinner with a friend one neighborhood over, or three time zones to the west. Unbelievable!
If you don’t have any friends or family members to “eat with” during dinner, leaf through a magazine to have some time to limit screen time, and put on a podcast.
8:34 pm: Do dishes and clean up, to clear your mind.
Make sure you clean up after yourself, whether you live alone, with roommates or with your partner (or dog/cat). Having a clean house at night leads to a more productive day the next day.
9:10 pm: Take some time for relaxing activities.
Are you in the middle of a good book? (Or, if you need some recommendations, check out our friends who have authored books.) Or do you belong to a book club? This is a great time in the evening to do some reading.
9:55 pm: Catch up with more friends.
Give a friend a call. Check in with your parents, or grandparents. FaceTime that cousin who just had a baby (hi, baby!).
10:17 pm: Running out of things to do?
Neaten up your room. Make plans for the next work-from-home day. Water your plants. Dust your floor. Clean the clothes off the infamous ‘clothes chair’ in your bedroom.
Have a glass of wine. Make a fun cocktail with an online recipe. Hydrate.
Congratulate yourself for another productive day at home, even if you thought you couldn’t do it.
If you could, congratulate yourself anyway. Take care of your mind by relaxing, your soul by being connected and your body by being kind to it.
Now that you have your routine, bookmark our work from home expert tips to make sure you’ve got all your WFH skills ironed out.
Looking for home office inspiration? We’ve even outlined how we made our home office in a Brooklyn apartment.
Lastly, are you working from home as a couple? We got you covered.
Last updated on January 19th, 2021