Rachel Rodgers is an intellectual property lawyer, mother, business coach, wife and CEO of Hello Seven (that’s 7-figures for you in the back). We asked the business coach to share tips for us all on life balance while working from home and she came through with some goodies.
An important part of Rachel’s work is also to create a more equitable, diverse, and anti-racist environment with her business clients and you can explore that work more on her Instagram here. Here’s Rachel on the quandry of WFH balance..
“Working from home” might initially seem like a dream come true.
No bothersome coworkers leaning into your cubicle to interrupt you with piddly nonsense, infusing your personal space with their stale potato chip breath! Unlimited access to the fridge! No pants required! Plus you can blast Lizzo all day long!
However, as millions of people abruptly learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home isn’t always as fabulous as it may seem.
At home, you’ve got plenty of perks, for sure. But you also face all kinds of challenges — interruptions from kids, distracting piles of laundry, and lack of privacy, for starters.
I’ve worked from home for ten years, so I’m a seasoned veteran when it comes to the telecommuting lifestyle. I’ve learned — through trial and error — how to create a beautiful and productive work environment at home.
If you’re struggling to focus, get things done, and enjoy your work at home, here are seven upgrades you can make right away…
7 Ways to Create a More Productive + Beautiful WFH Environment
1. Set up a beautiful space where you actually *want* to work.
Take a look at your current situation. Are you trying to work from a cramped corner of the kitchen surrounded by messy dishes, stacks of junk mail, and your partner’s toenail clippings? Nooo! Liberate yourself from this nightmare and upgrade your environment.
Claim a space in the house that is “yours.” Clear out the clutter. Add plants and flowers. Candles. Natural light from a window. Small upgrades make a huge difference.
And you don’t need a 2,500 square foot home to find a space to claim. Over the years, my workspace has gone from a nook in my bedroom, to a walk-in closet, to a section of the living room. Your work is what keeps the bills paid in your home, so it is worthy of its own special section of your house. Claim a space and make it feel delightful no matter how small.
2. Get dressed for work.
When I first started working from home, I thought, “Hooray! Pajamas every day! Sweat pants! Or no pants!” But I soon realized that wearing PJs all day zaps my energy and leaves me feeling frumpy. It’s hard to supervise a team of ten employees and feel like a visionary leader when you’ve got a hole in the crotch of your stained yoga pants.
These days, my go-to look is usually a pair of athleisure pants (are they sweatpants or professional trousers? No one will ever know!) and a silky kimono. Stylish but relaxed. When I am dressed I feel more energized and confident, and it feels great to know I’m ready for a spontaneous Zoom meeting at any moment.
3. Take an actual lunch break.
Earlier in my career, I’d often skip lunch (“I’m too busy!”) and then I’d be starving and inhale a whole bag of cookies. Or I’d gobble down a protein bar (with tons of chemicals and unpronounceable preservatives) in between conference calls instead of having a real meal comprised of actual food!
These days, I make an effort to step away from my desk, sit down, and eat a real meal: one with plants, high-quality carbs, healthy fats, and lean protein. When I eat real food in a distraction-free environment (no phone, tablet, tv, or computer) my meal tastes way better, my body feels happier, and I leave the table satisfied and energized.
4. Set boundaries — and enforce them.
It is not possible to focus deeply and work efficiently when you’re being interrupted 307 times a day.
Every single interruption — a doorbell, a text, a social media notification, your darling child (“Mommy look at meeee!” )— overloads your brain, making it virtually impossible to do high-quality work.
The solution? Boundaries. Especially with your kids. Make sure they know, “When I am sitting here at my desk, that means you need to play or read and not interrupt.”
Your children need love and affection, but they are not entitled to every single minute of your time, nor every iota of your energy! You are allowed to work, and enjoy your work, unapologetically. Working efficiently doesn’t make you a bad parent. To the contrary, it makes you a great role model.
5. Move your body.
You are not a disembodied head floating on a video conferencing screen! You are a human being with a body, so treat it well. Move your body daily, in whatever manner feels good for you. I like doing Pilates or a quick cycling ride, jog, or walk to boost my energy.
On days when I don’t feel like it, I remind myself, “If I take a 20 minute walk right now, this will make me smarter and more efficient for the rest of my workday. It’s worth it.”
6. Free up bandwidth in your brain.
Once a month, my husband and I sit down and make a list of all the household stuff that needs to happen. Laundry. Grocery shopping. Meal prep. Errands. Repairs. Bills. Etc.
Then we go through each item on the list and decide, “Okay, who’s going to be responsible for this particular task? You? Me? One of the kids? Are we gonna hire a professional to do this task?” We divvy things up.
This frees up tons of bandwidth in my brain, not to mention, tons of time on my schedule. I can focus on my work and enjoy it, instead of being weighed down by 10,000 menial household chores.
7. Surround yourself with ambitious, joyful people.
Working from home can feel lonely at times. All the more reason to upgrade your social circle. Make sure you’re interacting with high-caliber people daily — people who energize you and give you life! Start a group-text with a few of your most inspiring friends. Join a virtual club. Find an accountability partner and check in weekly to discuss your goals. The right community changes everything.
In summary: Get a real desk. Put on some pants. Eat actual food. Remind your kids that you’re not a 24/7 fun-factory available for their nonstop entertainment. Move your body. Delegate chores. Hang out (virtually or face to face) with people who inspire you to be your best self. Treat yourself well.
Do this, and your workday will flow beautifully. And you will feel like a million bucks.