J's Tips for Working From Home
I know I’m not alone when I say that I’m busy. So many of our readers are hustling away in the corporate world while running a business on the side or teaching fitness part time. Maybe you’re like me and are planning your wedding on top of it all. We’re all busy, which is why I felt the need to write this post. Plus, I honestly have never given you guys the whole scoop on what I do day-to-day...until now.
Many of you know that I work a full time corporate job, which has been great since my transition in December (you can read more about that phase of my life here). I now work with the best team of smart women, have amazing exposure to leadership at my company, and really think I’m adding value on a daily basis. Oh, and my team is 100% remote, so I can pretty much work from anywhere that has wifi. A job like this is hard to come by, and I know I’m lucky.
This past year, it has become evident to me that I have an addiction to staying busy. I thrive on a full calendar and a long to-do list. So aside from working a full-time corporate job, there are a few other priorities in my life right now - some of which you may not know. In no particular order:
The Blog! fitcityblonde has been part of my life since 2014, the summer I entered the “real-world.” I’m just realizing it now, but ever since the beginning of my career, I’ve had this side hustle. I’ve never known anything different! Which is maybe why it comes so naturally to me. Most of the “work” that comes from the blog is what you’d expect: blogging. Since we are heavily focused on fitness, it also means we spend a good amount of time working out (maybe 6-7 hours a week). Other fun tasks include managing our inbox, reaching out to potential partners, and maintaining our content calendar - all of which I love to do.
Freelancing! Ever since the fall of 2017, I’ve been part of the coolest group of freelancers called The Gauge Collective, which is run by an amazingly hard-working former Flywheel instructor, Teddy Heidt. He’s pooled together a group of talented individuals who all play an important role in managing the marketing and social media content for our collection of clients. Most of my work with TGC involves coming up with the copy and content for all social channels for a handful of our clients. I’m also involved with influencer outreach, which I love because it is so well tied to what I already do with fitcityblonde.
Yoga Teaching! You may have followed along with my CPY teacher training journey on the blog or on our instagram account. What I will tell you now is that the hard work was worth the wait. I will be subbing as needed at Mirepoix, the cutest wellness hidden gem in Chicago, and will be teaching a few hours a week at The Peninsula Chicago. Stay tuned for more class times!
Wedding Planning! The Big Day is August 4th, 2018. Exactly three months from the day I’m writing this. We’ve got most of the big stuff out of the way (at least...I know who the guy is. That’s all that matters, right?) But since we don’t have a wedding planner, some of the little things have been keeping me busy. The best kind of busy :) this only happens once! Shoot me a comment or email if you can relate or have any tips for planning a destination wedding!
Nutrition School! Last fall was a big transition period for me. I started yoga teacher training, transitioned jobs, and signed up for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I’ve passed the mid-way mark and am now trying to figure out what I want to do with my certification as a Health Coach. Are any of you IIN grads? Do you know anyone that’s looking for a coach to get them back on the healthy track? Send them my way! This is my true passion, and I LOVE chatting about it (just ask my poor fiance - 99% of our dinner conversations are about nutrition and wellness. Poor Chris).
So I wasn’t lying when I said I’m busy. And I have the sneaky feeling you are too. I’m by no means an expert, but here are a few of the things I’ve learned that have helped me stay sane and productive in all areas of my life...
Set a Schedule (& stick to it!)
It may feel a bit obsessive, but setting aside blocks of time for certain tasks has helped me master my schedule. A typical day looks a little something like this:
6-7am - workout
7:30am - log on and scan my inbox to gauge the day’s priorities
7:30-8am - shower and get ready (While I usually skip the makeup, and my attire is usually athleisure, I make a point to get out of my PJ’s asap. Look good, feel good, do good)
8-9am - email time! This includes outstanding personal, work, freelance, and fitcityblonde emails
9-10am - work (priority 1)
10am-noon - work (priorities 1 and 2)
12-1pm - get out of the house. This usually consists of a 30 min walk with my dog
1-1:30pm - check in on freelance emails/projects and address any immediate tasks
1:30-3pm - work (priority 3)
3-3:30pm - short break to take the dog out and stretch my legs
3:30-5:30pm - work (priority 4)
5:30-7pm - finish up any freelance and blog to-do’s for the day. This is when I focus on responding to comments and messages on our Instagram, write new blog posts, update our content calendar, etc.
Being dedicated to one task does not mean intermittently checking my gmail, fitcityblonde email account, or scrolling through Instagram. It means being completely focused on that single task for that set amount of time, then MOVING ON once time’s up. And if there is no hard deadline on that task, I won’t go back to it until the next time I’ve scheduled for it. As a multi-tasker, this has been a difficult habit for me to pick up. I’m so used to cruising through 6 things at one time, shooting off emails left and right without taking the time to focus. That is no way to produce effective work and is ultimately unsustainable. Hello burnout!
Best practice: close all documents, browser windows, or applications that do not pertain to the task at hand. I used to be the person with tons of tabs open (many of which involved shopping, catching up on the news & planning out my workouts for the next week). It got to be way too distracting, and I’d constantly jump from one thing to the next. My new schedule has helped me concentrate more fully, thereby catching more mistakes and creating a better work product.
Note: as my corporate job ALWAYS comes first, I do keep a close eye on my Outlook for new emails or requests that hadn’t made their way into that day’s priorities yet. While keeping a schedule is KEY, I can’t stress enough how important it is to be flexible and understand what comes first.
My biggest distraction if I’m working from home is the temptation to do household chores. I’m strange, but cleaning is therapeutic for me… I kind of enjoy it. But sometimes, a “quick load of laundry” turns into a whole-house deep clean that ends up taking longer than I had time for.
Best practice: I cannot focus in a cluttered space, so I set aside ~20 minutes to tidy things up around the house. And I save the big cleans for the weekends.
Other distractions to be mindful of: the TV, the kitchen (we’ll talk about this one next), kids/dogs/other humans at home, and social media.
Avoid Eating the Entire Kitchen
When I asked what advice you’d like from this post, many of you replied with, “how do I avoid eating the entire kitchen?” This is one I struggled with for a while when I first started working from home too, so I know where you’re coming from.
I like to work at the kitchen counter most days (it’s sunny and bright - which just makes me happy), but the fridge is constantly staring me right in the face. This was tough at first. The snack attacks were REAL...but they always left me feeling sluggish and unable to concentrate. My solution? Meal prep just as I would if I was working from the office. And more importantly, meal prep with the RIGHT FOODS! By including lots of healthy fats, fiber, and leafy greens into my diet, I found that I was able to stay fuller longer - completely eliminating the desire to snack every few hours. It’s taken a lot of trial and error, but I have found what works well for me. Every body is different, and yours may need more or less of certain nutrients. But I challenge you to become more aware of your body’s response to the food you’re consuming. You’ll learn at lot.
My typical day in meals looks like this:
7am - hot water with lemon
8am - bulletproof matcha
11am - fab four smoothie (made the night before)
2pm - big salad with arugula, avocado, hemp hearts, walnuts, lemon juice, olive oil (made the night before)
7pm - dinner with Chris is usually a roasted veggie + meat or fish. My favorite last week was roasted broccolini + lamb kebabs that we bought at the farmer’s market!
Don’t Ignore Your Social Calendar
The cabin fever is real. For those of you that also work from home, I’m hoping you can relate. Despite the constant instant messages with friends from work, the busy afternoons of calls, and the overflowing inbox, it can get pretty lonely. Sometimes I’ll go 8 hours without talking to a human face-to-face (I’ll let you believe what you want when it comes to talking to my dog).
To avoid those types of days, I’ll make a point to schedule in some social time...on my actual calendar! When I block the time, it’s like a meeting - I can’t skip it just because I don’t feel like going. Booking an early morning yoga or evening Soul Cycle class with a friend is a great opportunity to sweat it out with a familiar face [love my 7am solidcore crew!]. Coffee, lunch, and happy hour dates filled my calendar when I worked downtown, but they quickly disappeared when my desk became my kitchen counter. As patio season ramps up and #SummertimeChi is (finally) upon us, they’ve started to make their way back onto my calendar.
On the days I truly don’t have time or energy to dedicate to someone else, I’ll combat the cabin fever by taking a 30 minute walk over lunch and chat up the barista at my favorite coffee shop. Getting out of the house in the middle of the day has been an amazing way to refresh and avoid the burnout.
Know When to Unplug
Initially, one of the best parts of working from home was that I could login earlier and logout later than I ever could when I had to commute to the office. This allowed for an average of 3 extra hours in front of my computer than before! Sometimes even more if Chris was traveling for work and I’d just lose track of time.
Aside from all of the health reasons to cut down on screen time, I’ve found that knowing when to unplug keeps me sane. I’ve also gotten better at managing my time, which has really cut back on the late nights in front of my computer. As soon as Chris gets home from work, it’s time to shut down and make time for the important things - quality time with those I love most.