by Jenna Kutcher
I always thought I wanted to work from home. I mean, I guess I envisioned days spent on the couch eating popcorn and “doing big things” but in reality, I have such a hard time disconnecting from work, staying focused while I am working, even eating healthy. What I thought would be a dream come true is becoming a nightmare and I’m not exactly sure how it’s possible to balance normal life while working from home.
Help Me Love Home Again
Oh, friend. I feel you big time… like “all the feels” sort of ways. Working from home is like that unicorn that people are chasing, but once they catch it, they realize it was really just a horse in a costume. (That was the weirdest analogy, but stay with me.) I remember the first few days of working from home: I watched Real Housewives in bed all morning, cooked macaroni and cheese for lunch, took a midday nap and felt like I was on vacation… until, of course, I remembered that it’s called “working” from home and not vacation.
The struggle is real, it’s hard to live, work, eat, sleep, play in one space and love it for all of them. Over the years I’ve really had to hone in on what that is going to look like in my life and I have a few valuable tips that will save you years of frustration, hours of inefficiency, and hopefully spare you a little marital stress.
1.) Have a defined space: not the couch, not your bed, but an actual office – one you enjoy working from. My first office was a spare bedroom (complete with a bed) and I hated working in it. My desk was shoved in the corner, I never felt inspired in it. When we moved, my office was created in our sun porch: ample light, doors to close at the end of the day, and space for a desk that held all the cups of coffee necessary to get it done.
2.) Treat your job like a “real” job with real hours: that’s right. You still need to set your alarm clock and maintain a normal schedule. I literally wake up at 7AM every day, go to the gym at 8AM, and get to work, closing the office doors by 6PM at the latest. I have scheduled lunch breaks, specific times I walk the dogs, and a schedule that gives me the structure necessary to be efficient.
3.) Prep your meals in advance: seriously, eating well while working from home sounds like it would be easy but it’s super hard. You have all the pots and pan, a fridge full of food, a cabinet filled with a million possibilities. It sounds like a dream, right? Wrong. Most days I would just heat up whatever was fastest and call it good. I wasn’t eating balanced or well, I would be exhausted after lunch hour and rely on lots of coffee (or long naps) to get me through the day. Drew created our guide for groceries and weekly food prep here (that takes one hour to make all of our breakfasts and lunches for the week!)
4.) Have defined office hours: My clients know that I am in the office Monday-Friday and I only respond to emails within office hours. This means no texts late at night or Facebook messages about their weddings. It really helps me stay balanced and fight the urge to run into my office to answer “just one email.” Don’t get notifications on your phone, don’t chase your tail in your inbox everyday, have defined office hours and take care of things while you are in the office so you can enjoy life outside of the office!
5.) Define your new role with your spouse: For us, transitioning to me working from home wasn’t always easy. Drew would get frustrated that I didn’t fold the laundry or question why the dishes were still in the dishwasher at the end of the day, but it’s important to remember that you are, in fact, working from home. So just as those things wouldn’t get completed if you were to report to an office for work, they might not get done while you are holed up in your office plugging away at your to-do list! It’s important to define what this will look like so that you’re on the same page as you embark on learning to do your work where you live!
I hope this helps! I truthfully can’t explain how much I love working from home. Knowing that if I need to take a quick nap, my bed is there, and getting to hang out with my dogs every single day is pretty much the best! I wouldn’t trade this luxury for the world but I am so thankful that (most of) the growing pains that come with the transition are worked out! Enjoy every minute, prioritize well, set boundaries, and enjoy working in your pjs (bra optional!)