How to Develop Healthy Habits When You Work from Home

While working from home has a lot of perks, the lack of structure can make it easy to find yourself in an unhealthy, overworked rut. If you want to keep yourself functioning like a real human, you need to develop these five healthy habits, pronto.

Before you began your freelance adventure, did you ever daydream about how awesome it would be to work from home?

You know the daydream, I mean.

You get to set your hours and work in your pajamas. You sleep nine hours a night, and you’re in the best shape of your life because you have time to go to the gym every afternoon.

Once you start freelancing, though, the picture is not so rosy.

It probably looks more like: never getting enough sleep because there’s just one more thing to do, being constantly interrupted by your children or phone calls from friends who need a favor, and living off coffee and Cheetos because that’s easier than making yourself an authentic lunch.

While working from home has a lot of perks, the lack of structure can make it easy to find yourself in an unhealthy, overworked rut.

If you want to work from home and keep yourself functioning like a real human, you need to develop a few healthy habits, pronto.

How to Develop Healthy Habits When You Work from Home

Give Yourself a Schedule

If you telecommute and work with colleagues in an office, you’ll probably find yourself matching their 9-5 schedule. But if you can work whenever you want to, it can be hard to use your time productively.

To make sure you’re not wasting time or working longer hours than you need to, you need to figure out when you work effectively. Do you do your best work at night? Will you be more productive in the morning or afternoon?

Try out a few different schedules, pick that one that works for you, and stick to it. You’ll get a lot more done if you have set hours to accomplish your tasks and goals.

Set Boundaries

One of the best things about working from home is making time for chores, socializing, or other activities at odd hours. I love being able to tell a friend that I can pick her up from the airport or meet for coffee in the middle of the day.

Unfortunately, many people accustomed to typical 9-5 jobs hear “work from home” and interpret it as “not working.” So you may find yourself besieged with phone calls in the middle of the day from irate friends and family who expect you to be available or with a spouse who wonders why the laundry is still not done when you’ve been home all day.

Avoid this by setting clear, healthy boundaries. Tell people when you are available for socializing or calls. Don’t let them bully you into doing “favors” during your work time. Designate time for chores and housekeeping that is separate from your work hours.

By separating work time and free time, you’ll get more done and be able to relax when you’re off the clock.

Get Up and Move

With no distractions like chatting with co-workers or group lunch breaks to take you away from your desk, it’s easy to stay sedentary for hours while you work at home. Not only is this bad for your productivity, but it can also be very dangerous to your health.

Hopefully, you’re already making time for some daily exercise routine. But it’s still important to stretch your muscles and get your blood flowing throughout the day. Try my workout for freelancers — it only takes about five minutes to do, and everyone has an extra five minutes in their day.

If you set aside time to get up and move during your workday, you’ll feel more invigorated and focused when you do get back to work.

Eat Real Food

Whether you pack your lunch or run out to grab a bite with co-workers, working in an office lends itself to eating on a schedule.

When you work from home, it’s easy to go one of two unhealthy ways. Either you constantly snack throughout the day because, hey, your kitchen is right there. Or you find yourself skipping meals because putting something together in the middle of the workday seems like too much effort.

It’s important to give yourself a lunch break during the day, and you’re more likely to make healthy choices if you plan your lunches the same way you would if you were going to an office. If you’re the snacking type, try to keep around healthy snacks, like protein bars or nuts, that will fill you up quickly and give you energy.

And make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day; I get super unfocused when I’m dehydrated, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re the same!

Disconnect and Relax

One nice thing about working in an office is the business day has a definite end: you turn off your computer, put away your files, and go home. This sort of routine helps you stop thinking about work and relax.

It’s much harder to mentally switch off when there’s no physical divide between you and work. When you work from home, you can find yourself still checking your work email and finishing up “one last thing” when you’re technically off the clock.

I like to relax and disconnect from work at least an hour before bed, and I think everyone should do the same. To avoid this, decide on your end of the business day and stick with it. Don’t keep checking your email, don’t open another project.

You’ll sleep much better, suffer from less stress, and be more ready to get back to work the next day.

Working from home requires a lot of self-discipline, not just when it comes to deadlines. You’ll be much happier and more productive if you take time to develop healthy habits from the beginning — but no matter where you are in your freelance adventure, it’s never too late to start!

Do you think your habits are more or less healthy when you work from home?

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