At the start of 2017, our team made a major shift from working 9-5 in a shared office space, to working virtually (from home)… This change came with big benefits, including saving morning and evening commute time, cost on a rented space, more flexible work hours (most of our team now works early in the morning and/or well into the evening, having more freedom to take care of other things during the day), and overall, working from home provides an opportunity to establish a healthier work/life balance.

However, this healthy balance comes with time, and it takes some navigating through rough waters to figure out what works for you. In the first month that our team worked from home, it became obvious right off the bat that this new environment requires A LOT more self-discipline and focus, and I really struggled at first to keep my head in the game!

The transition made sense though, for our team… We, who develop mobile solutions for network marketers, entrepreneurs, and other work-from-home professionals… We should absolutely understand the discipline and focus that it takes to work from home successfully, as well as knowing the freedom it provides. And truly, this shift has helped us make valuable improvements to our mobile solutions!

Looking back, I think I had a hard time initially for a few reasons, not the least of which was that it was something I had never done before… My home had always been a place to relax and unwind before and after work. It was never the place where I spent most of my day! This realization alone came with plenty of adjustments to my living space, AND how I worked in it…

I live in a two-bedroom apartment with a friend, where we don’t have an extra room/office. So I had to get creative, test out, and carve out a place in our small apartment where I could be most productive. After trying many options… the kitchen island, the living room, my bedroom (definitely not!)… I finally found that I was most productive at our “dining room” table (pictured below) which we never used anyway.

Home Office

Through this testing and carving process, I also found that any clutter around the house was a BIG distraction, and so I had to shift gears, cleaning and tidying up more regularly in order to avoid major interruptions during my work day.

After setting up a space that worked for me, and removing as many distractions as possible, I still found myself feeling a little burnout, and losing focus throughout the week…

I realized that there are a few other pain points that sneak up on you while working from home (especially in a little apartment)… things that never even cross your mind when you work in an office!

Namely –

  • A lack of sunshine and fresh air
  • A lack of social interaction throughout the day
  • Forgetting to eat well while sitting in front of a computer all day

Can you relate? After recognizing these subtle, but important needs (fundamental basic needs as a human being) that were preventing me from doing my best work, I started taking some time throughout the day to introduce healthy habits for myself as a person, not an employee – A vital shift in perspective that has helped me get my head in the “work from home” game!

I want to offer a few of these 20-minute (or less) activities, of which I recommend taking 3 20-minute breaks throughout your day. Do an activity that caters to a specific pain point you’re experiencing. The following eight activities have helped me clear my head and get re-focused on the tasks at hand, while also providing that healthy work/life balance that I mentioned earlier!

  1. VIDEO CONFERENCE WITH YOUR TEAM

    Just because physically, you are working at home, doesn’t mean you have to be alone! Set up a standing video call with your team, partners, or co-workers. Our team starts everyday at 9am with a 20-minute video call via Google Hangouts (free), where we share our tasks and goals for the day and hold each other accountable for completing those things we say we’ll complete. The video component is crucial here… It’s amazing what starting your day with a friendly face (or faces) can do for your overall productivity!
  2. DRINK A LARGE GLASS OF WATER & HAVE A HEALTHY SNACK

    Let’s be honest, none of us drink enough water these days, and it’s so true that what you put into your body is what you’ll get out of it! So why not take some time to fuel your body right? Stay hydrated, and choose nutritious snacks to provide yourself with clean energy throughout the day. One of my favorite energy boosters is an apple and a handful of almonds! Also, take time to eat both breakfast and lunch daily to kick start your metabolism AND your brain power!
     
  3. TRY SOME SIMPLE YOGA STRETCHES

    Do you sit in front of a computer all day too? Sitting for such long lengths of time can wreak havoc on the body, so try some simple yoga stretches get the body moving and improve your posture! Take 20 minutes away from your desk or work space and focus on breathing deeply in each pose. Below are 5 of my favorites for spine and hip health:

    Yoga Poses for Work At Home
  4. CLOSE YOUR EYES & COUNT YOUR BREATH

    I know, I know… this sounds super yoga-y and probably the first thought that popped into your head is
    “I can’t meditate.” Well don’t worry, I can’t meditate either. 😉 But let me tell you, taking 20 minutes to close your eyes, and simply breathe, can do wonders for your energy and focus! The trouble is, without something for the mind to focus on, it will wander back to work projects, your to-do list, and everything else that you are trying NOT to think about. So, try this simple exercise to calm your monkey mind and reset! Take a comfortable seat (away from your computer screen), and count each breath you take like so:

    Inhale – 1, Exhale – 1
    Inhale – 2, Exhale – 2
    Inhale – 3, Exhale – 3

    Continue until you reach Inhale – 54 and Exhale – 54. IF you make it all the way to Breath 54 without losing count, this exercise will take roughly 10 minutes (at 6 breaths per minute). However, if you lose count (which usually happens to me around 20-something), then it’s time to start over with Inhale – 1 and Exhale 1.

    Oh yes, this definitely takes some mental discipline and integrity… Don’t judge yourself when you lose count. After all, it takes practice for the mind to switch off of it’s autopilot “go, go, go!” mode. You will notice suddenly, that your thoughts are elsewhere, and you’re not sure if you’re on Breath 23 or 24… Time to start over. :) For this reason, I set a 20-minute timer for myself, and see where I’m at when the timer goes off, and how many times I had to start over during the exercise.

    Giving your mind this simple counting task, provides a focus point, while at the same time clearing the clutter, and allowing you to reset.
  5. GO FOR A 20-MINUTE WALK OUTSIDE

    Get some fresh air and sunshine! Soak up that Vitamin D, and get your body moving. Taking a 20-minute walk is also a great way to clear the mind and reset… a “moving meditation” of sorts. Establish a route through your neighborhood that you can use every time, so you don’t need to think about where you’re headed and which street you should turn down next. Then, personally I like to have a healthy snack (see #2 above) ready for when I get back, which I take with me back to my work space.
  6. TALK WITH A FRIEND ON THE PHONE

    Again, I’ve found one of the hardest parts of working from home is the lack of social interaction… So to combat this, I’ve started taking 20 minutes (usually during lunch) to call up a friend and catch up. If you’re like me, then you probably struggle to keep in touch with long-distance friends on a regular basis. This simple lunch-time phone call helps to balance multiple areas of my life, and keeps me involved with loved ones across the country!
  7. DO A LOAD OF LAUNDRY

    Oh, the benefits of working from home! If you’re noticing a trend here, it’s probably that most of these activities (aside from the video calls) take you away from your work space and away from your computer screen. That action in itself (no matter what you do for 20 minutes) will help you to re-focus upon your return.

    Laundry is another simple task for the mind to focus on, that provides 3 break sessions away from your work space
    (for a total of about 30 minutes). The first is loading the washing machine (10 minutes), the second (30 minutes later) is transferring clothes to the dryer (5 minutes), and the third (1 hour later) is folding your laundry (15 minutes). In between timers, I’ve found I can really crank out some productive work! Plus, I feel like I earn a Gold Star for getting some regular “adulting” done, and being a productive human being. 😉
  8. READ 10 PAGES FROM YOUR FAVORITE INSPIRATIONAL BOOK

    What better way to get inspired, than to read from an author or book that inspires you! It doesn’t have to be a traditional “self help” book or or even a work of non-fiction… Read a passage from any book that speaks to you, and gets you fired up! Perhaps it’s even a religious text, like the Bible or the Bhagavad Gita. Reading at least 10 pages a day is good for your cognitive process (and your vocabulary), and you know you’ve been telling everyone you wish you read more anyways. So here’s your excuse… Carpe diem!

There you have it! My top activities for getting re-focused while working from home…

Do you have other techniques you use throughout your day? Please comment and share your best strategies with us below…

Thanks for reading!