Education, Technology

My Work-from-Home Rules

My newly renovated "work cave"
My newly renovated “work cave”

My work environment has recently changed in a HUGE way.  After 12 years as a classroom teacher, I am now working from home and traveling all over the state working with teachers.  It’s that first location–my home–that has really inspired me to create a set of personal expectations.  I’ve found, in just a few weeks, that sticking to these rules makes my time much more productive.

As a disclaimer, these rules are my own and they work for me.  Others may find these too restrictive or no structured enough.  If that’s you, tell me in the comments.

  1. Stick to a schedule.  I decided early on to get up each morning at the same time and end my work at the same time each day.  I find that this keeps at bay the temptation to sleep in and waste a perfect morning.
  2. Exercise.  I have never been a guy who gets regular exercise.  Now, however, I can’t use any of the reasons that I once did because I make my own schedule.  So, I make a point of getting out of bed at the same time I used to when I was going to school.  I spend the first hour with some physical activity (walking, jogging, a seven-minute workout, etc.) and then I take a shower and start my day.
  3. Eat lunch.  During my most recent year of teaching, I often skipped lunch because I just didn’t have time.  Now, my biggest problem is that I snack a lot.  To combat this, I started a habit of taking a break at lunchtime, going downstairs to the kitchen, and making myself some lunch.  It gives me a nice Facebook/Twitter/feed-reading break, too.
  4. Work the Pomodoro.  I recently heard about the Pomodoro Technique from a friend, and I’ve started using it to keep me productive.  In essence, I work on a task for 20 minutes, and then I take a mandated 5 minute break.  I decide how many “pomodoros” each task will take and I try to complete it in less.  It actually works.
  5. Kiss the wife.  Okay, not everyone gets this perk.  My wife runs a daycare out of our home during the day, so I generally avoid leaving my “work cave” when I have a lot to do.  But when I complete a big task, or finish a phone call/video conference, I usually take a walk downstairs and steal a smooch from the Mrs.  It keeps me grounded.  And, I don’t think that she minds, either.

I’m sure that list will grow as I learn more of the pitfalls of working from home, but my level of productivity and sanity are stabilizing in a good place, thanks to the structure that these rules bring to my workplace.

What’s your system?


10 thoughts on “My Work-from-Home Rules

  1. Well my 2 cents.. you need the best office chair you can afford. Mine was 500. My productivity is monitored by work so I don’t have typical wah issues. I do enjoy eating lunch at home abd taking a walk in morning. And my house is gstting progressively cleaner. I also feng shui office with candles. Fountains and flowers. Just makes me a better nurse that and kcups.


    1. Thanks for your input, Kelly. Agreed on the chair–got a comfy new one–but I’m also experimenting with the standing desk idea. Thoughts (especially from a medical professional)?

      I’m not one for the Kung Fu (or whatever), but I love the natural lighting in my home office. I’m sure that has an impact, too.


      1. I posted my office as well to compare. I’m likely going to add a second standing desk for some ROM and research surfaces for long time standing. The surfaces as so I can continue to be barefoot while I work! I also just ordered meditation pillow so I can do yoga or sterching on breaks.


  2. One last final thought. When I do finish for day and log off, I shut the door and don’t go back in until login on monday. That room doesn’t ecist for family use (frank has man cave en suite ), declan has his room and I relax in our bedroom which is really my room. The door stays shut so I know its a strict boundary. In that room I’m a nurse. Out here poor decisions about second glass of wine are appeoved.


  3. This is a great little article for people working from home. You have to treat it as you would a job. Set goals, show up on time, work, be productive. Do not allow distractions if you are working at home!


  4. I had no clue that the Pomodoros technique existed, but that is definitely the technique which i am using to get through law school. I’ve found that I am most productive with a 25:5 minute ratio. I also use sticky notes religiously as a task organizer. I have a sticky note for each class that i work on regularly. I move it to a happy “stuff that i already finished” area after i have completed each task. This soothes my visual side deep in the midst of contract homework.


  5. It’s so awesome that you are finding your way in this new journey. So so happy for you. I would of course add a candle or some sort of sent to the office. Love that you are including exercise and the Mrs. gets kisses!


  6. I’m curious to hear more about how you are tracking with the Pomodoro Technique. Are you using a website or app to track it or just keeping track via a clock. I used for awhile, but then summer hit and I haven’t gone back to it.


    1. Philip, I use a Mac app to keep track of those darned ‘maters. But I don’t know how long that habit will last. Working on a standing desk plan now.


  7. Just found this entry…love it. My office is the converted dinning room, so only one door. Plus I use it for so many things…I definitely have to be more structured. I’m not sure about the standing desk concept. A few days a week I do stand for an entire day at my desk, can’t say I love it. Have you thought about one of the core balls? you can get a ‘holder’ for it…not sure what they call it. However it has wheels and you put the ball in it. You would use your core, sit up straight and the holder would prevent you from falling over easily. 🙂
    Hope you are doing well…I feel like I never got to say good by or good luck…however, there are never any good by’s my friend.


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