These days, work at home jobs are no longer unusual. Thanks to easily accessible technology, many companies are pivoting towards more remote work options, and if you run your own small business, chances are your office is home based. Several months ago, I polled the Healthy Work and Unconventional RD communities to gather their tried-and-true work from home tips. Many of the people who are quoted below are wellness entrepreneurs who work remotely for themselves, and a few also work remotely for a company. As per usual, their responses are brilliant, and I’m excited to share their practical insights with you.
I’ve worked remotely for the last four years, and prior to that, the company I worked for had weekly work-from-home benefits, so I’m no stranger to the good, the bad, and the ugly of working from home. In general, I’m a huge fan of working from home -- I love the slower mornings, better food options, no commute (#DCproblems), my flexible schedule, and getting to see my husband more (he also works remote!). But on the flip side, there are aspects of working remotely that get to me -- feelings of isolation, less clear work/home boundaries, and seeing my husband too much (i.e. love you, but I don’t love being interrupted when I’m working on certain things). ;)
If I’m totally honest, I go through seasons where working remotely is a DREAM, I get into a rhythm, and I feel like I’m reaping all the benefits without any of the pitfalls. But then eventually a season comes where I hit a whole bunch of hurdles all at once and then all of the sudden I have trouble accessing the self-motivation and discipline that work from home jobs require.
So what’s the key to thriving versus surviving with remote work? I think part of the answer lies in my last paragraph: rhythms. Remote work will inevitably allow for greater flexibility in your schedule and life (again, this is a huge perk!), but what makes that flexibility sustainable is creating routines and embracing some daily, weekly, monthly, etc. structure that suits you and your lifestyle.
Another extremely important part of work from home is self care. You can’t pour from an empty cup. You can’t stay focused or manage a business from your home office if you’re relying solely on hustle and willpower. Figure out how to set boundaries and prioritize self care so that you are working from a place of rest. A healthy you = a healthy work life. And let other people help you sometimes.
I believe that anyone, even extroverts like me, can work productively and happily at home, but you do have to set yourself up for success. And don’t just take my word for it. I’ve rounded up top work from home tips from 25 wellness entrepreneurs. Can you spot the themes?
Stephanie Machacek - Get out for a walk at some point in the day to recharge.
Janell Kaplan - Make a dedicated workspace, even if it's just a corner of a room, and stick to a work schedule, or you risk losing personal space/time to work. Healthy boundaries that separate the professional from the personal are a must! (e.g., I demo cooking in my kitchen, but that's the only work I allow in my kitchen).
Caitlin Higgins - Plan ahead and put every task in your work calendar. Time block EVERYTHING (e.g., each task, consultations, client notes, lunch break, walking breaks, etc.).
Ana Reisdorf - Don't pay attention to the mess. I just head up to my office and ignore. Then I set a 30 minute timer to do dishes or fold laundry as a "break".
Caitlin Self - Make a to-do list! I do mine as "must do" and then "if time" so that if I'm on a roll I can tackle the If Time List. But since they're separate, I won't procrastinate my must-do tasks if something on the "if time" list is more fun. Give yourself motivational breaks throughout the day (I usually plan to test-bake during my afternoon slump). Listen to brain.fm when you really need to focus.
Emily Cerda - Time blocking everything really shifted the game for me. I even time block meetings with myself!
Jackie Durand - Keep a schedule, just like you would in a traditional workplace.
Deborah Rankin - To keep work life from bleeding into personal life, I shut my work computer at a set time on Friday afternoon and hide it in a drawer or cabinet where I can’t see it, so I take a break from work on the weekend. Also, the kitchen is always open at home, so to keep from snacking all day I have a rule: lunch is at high noon.
Ashley Stewart - My biggest suggestion is to have a designated place where work happens. For me, it’s a desk instead of an office, but it’s a space that’s all mine and helps me focus on just work!
Marissa Mekelburg - The number one thing for productivity is having and keeping a schedule just like if you worked outside the home and no matter what, you keep it. For example, I am up by 6 am everyday and at my desk by 6:30am. I workout at 11am, have lunch and am back to work at 1pm. If I need to schedule something not related to business (like taking my dog to the vet) it is done on my days off.
Jen Hernandez - Set “meetings” with colleagues to brainstorm, have adult time, and to help keep you accountable! (And sane!) 🤪.
Courtnay Mecca - Leave the house to work. I hit up the library to work when I need a (free) location change.
Mary Angela Miller - I try to repurpose the time I formerly spent commuting, 60 to 90 minutes per day, into better health practices (i.e. extending my daily walk, attempting to meet the recommended sleep guidelines, etc.). This helps me be much more productive during the time I spend at my desk. Another tip: try to situate your workspace where there is natural light. My home office is in a loft, but before I downsized, my office was in my basement. I now feel connected to the outside world rather than isolated from it.
Brianne Bell - Treat work time as sacred. No, you’re not available for coffee at 3pm Wednesday. If that’s your work time, make sure to set boundaries around it.
Michele Sidorenkov - Working from home can sometimes be a little lonely and isolating, so I love to have the news or live radio on in the background while I work. Knowing what is going on in the world around me when I sometimes don't leave the house for days at a time helps me stay connected to the outside world!
Chloe Davis - When you begin to feel unmotivated from whatever work you are doing, you need to take time and space to refresh and to take a break! Change up the scenery and then sit back down for a new perspective. My step 1 at doing this has been scheduling that time in advance so it’s “in writing” on my calendar as “busy”! I can’t deny it to myself but it also prevents others from using that time.
Lauren Smith - Set boundaries. I could work 6am to 8pm without breaks because I'm #crazy like many other entrepreneurs, so setting boundaries helps me actually optimize my time and makes me feel better without burning out.
Elizabeth Ward - I get up very early and work out. I am showered, fed, and caffeinated by 8:30 AM and ready to work. This routine helps to keep me on track for the day.
Yan Yin Phoi - Create a to-do list. A long-term one and a short-term (day to day) one. I work on the short-term list at the start of the day, and when I meet an obstacle that prevents me from finishing that up (e.g. pending replies, writer's block), I choose some thing from the long-term list to work on. This way, I'm always doing something and making productive use of my time.
Tracy Mann - Mom of 5 here. Most of the time I still hire a nanny/babysitter when I have my work hours.
Julie Stefanski - Merging activities can maximize productivity when working from home. If I'm on a conference call where I don't have to participate, I'll wash my dishes or walk my dog at the same time. It's difficult to stay active when stuck to a computer so I'll place my laptop on the kitchen counter or ride my stationary bike and read a journal article at the same time.
Jeanette Kimszal - Focus on just one task at hand until it’s complete. Instead of a to-do list make a “should do” list consisting of tasks that are of absolute importance. This way you can triage what needs to get done first.
Sharon Jarrett - I have a “do today” list. Other things (and there are always other things!) are completed as time permits. I spend time at least once a week assessing and reassessing ways to streamline and automate my processes. If clients call after my set hours, their calls go directly to voicemail. If I need to run errands, I save them for Friday afternoons. I close my office at 12:30 on Fridays and use the rest of the day to do personal things.
Whitney Bateson - I just started working from around the world this past year so that became a little trickier! I still have routines, regular office hours, but I often move to a few different locations to work from throughout the day/week and that helps me feel invigorated
Libby N Rothschild - Remember to get dressed and still do your hair.
“My kids are 10 and 12, but they have been respecting my office time for years (like, even through grad school). Giving them a lot of activity options, having them check in with the time being clear on when your sessions are, and spacing sessions a little more liberally than usual so that you can pop in and give them some interaction before you jump into the next session is key. I give them things to look forward to either in-between or after my sessions so that they know they'll be rewarded for not interrupting (things like game time, a movie night, going outside to play ball). Now that they're older and one is homeschooling, we have evening or morning meetings where we talk about what they need to accomplish in the day. I give them control over the order and timing of the tasks (or subjects/activities), but make it clear what is expected to get done by day's end. More than anything, I think it takes TIME to create these expectations and routines. They'll slip into it sooner than later!” -Emily Cerda, Clinical Nutritionist & Owner of Thrive Inside Nutrition
Talk about a treasure trove of solid advice. 😻 In addition to these tips, I’d like to share about some of my favorite tools for working from home. Nowadays, we have lots of technology and so many wonderful resources for virtual communication, digital organization, workflow, and business management. You can get my full list of tools, apps, & services to run your wellness business here, but I want to specifically call out a few of my favorite tools that are technology godsends for remote work, IMO.
To be transparent, some of these links are affiliate links, which means we may get a small commission if you purchase. This will in no way impact the price you pay. We are only affiliates for products we’ve personally used & loved.
Notion - The all-in-one workspace for your notes, tasks, wikis, and databases. People are comparing it to a mash-up of Google Docs, Evernote, Trello and Todoist. For my team, it has completely replaced Asana and Trello (great tools, btw!), and I have Notion workspaces for both my business and personal project management. Bottom line: Notion boosts my productivity and helps me and my team stay organized. It basically runs my life. You can read more about how I’m specifically using Notion to time block, schedule tasks, and more here.
Pricing: Free to start! $4 to $8 / month per user for more bells and whistles. Pricing Details
Slack - There are certainly endless ways to communicate digitally, but Slack is becoming the industry standard for internal (i.e. non client facing) communication. I love it. Like a lot. In fact, I use it every single day and have for years. It eliminates all those unnecessary back-and-forth team email convos that end up clogging up your inbox & getting lost in the shuffle. It is super easy to create different channels for different topics that are relevant to our team, contractors, even family. For example, I have a channel dedicated to marketing, design, sales, and development to help manage the multiple streams of communication with employees. You can integrate other apps, like Google Calendar to receive notifications inline (i.e. a calendar event can be posted directly in Slack).
Pricing: The free account will work for most use cases. (They do have paid plans starting at $6.67 per users. ) Pricing Details
Zoom - Most working at home jobs will require some kind of video conferencing tool. I prefer Zoom because they have focused on building a product that has a reliable connection, which TBH is probably one of the most important aspects of a video webinar or any other video call. While Google Hangouts or Skype can be used for similar remote work purposes, they tend to be a bit unreliable which can be frustrating when meeting with clients, collaborators, etc. Zoom can also be HIPPA-compliant, while Skype and GH are technically not.
Pricing: The free option is not HIPPA-compliant and has a 40-minute limit on meetings, but you can upgrade to pro for $14.99 /month per host. You can also convert your existing free or paid Zoom account to a HIPAA-compliant Zoom version managed by Practice Better. Zoom also has add-ons ons, including Video Webinars (which we use!) starting at $40/mo. Pricing Details
So what about you? Curious about jobs working from home? Are you already a wellness entrepreneur living the remote work life? If so, make sure you don't stay isolated for very long. We're better together, and finding community with other passionate people is essential to thrive as an entrepreneur. This is why I created the Healthy Work Community, a free space where wellness entrepreneurs can collaborate, encourage each other, & learn together. Consider it your virtual co-working space. Hope to see you there!
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