How to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle Working from Home
The Top 10 Healthy Lifestyle Tips for People with Work-at-Home Jobs
In this blog, we’ll cover:
Hack #1: Making Your Sanctuary
Hack #2: Protecting Your Back
Hack #3: Exercise Daily
Hack #4: Ample Sleep
Hack #5: Make a Strict Schedule
Hack #6: Schedule Active Meetings
Hack #7: Fill Your Home with Healthy Food
Hack #8: Drink Water
Hack #9: Change Your Location Occasionally
Hack #10: Take Breaks & Shut Downs
We all want to work from home today – and I am no exception! Who wants to get dressed in uncomfortable work clothes, sit in traffic, and pace around the same office floor every single day? If you could stay home, in your pajamas, and turn the TV on with your laptop, that would be the logical pick for just about everyone, no doubt.
That’s probably why 50% of the U.S. workforce will take part in the gig economy by 2020. Thanks to technology, freelancing platforms, and jobs apps, more people than ever before can stay at home and make a decent living. You can rent out your space on Airbnb, host online classes from your living room, and sell your graphic design and web design skills on sites like Fiverr.com.
At the same time, you can maximize the use of your time and make your own hours according to your needs. Are you a night owl? Now you can sleep in until 11:00 AM if you’re willing to work until midnight. If you’d rather get an early start on the day so you can go to a show at 3:00 PM, you don’t have to check in with your boss regarding the matter. You can do what you want, wherever you want to do it.
It seems like the ultimate dream, and in many ways, it is. I have been a full-time freelancer since December 2015. After I quit my job in New York City with no plan or timeline, I had to make something work. Out of necessity, I plunged headfirst into the world of freelancing, and I haven’t looked back since. That’s because the taste of pure time freedom is so captivating, I simply can’t imagine trading that in ever again.
Four-years later, and I have enjoyed considerable success as a freelancer. I have been in CNBC due to my Fiverr.com earnings (titled “How this 25-year-old made $150,000 in six months off of Fiverr“), I have been featured as a rising freelancer in Entrepreneur Mag, and I have been in dozens of podcasts where I discuss my approach to time management and disciplining myself as a solo entity.
My work ethic, thirst for knowledge, and stamina prepared me for the world of freelancing adequately. I was able to fine-tune my approach and complete my first freelancing orders without too many stumbles.
However, no one prepared me for the health side of things. When you ultimately sit eight hours per day, with no office-provided chair, desk, or lumbar support pillow, you end up on the coach, crunched in half with your laptop. Suddenly, three years have gone by, and you notice a sharp pain by your spine. You go to the doctors and discover that you have been slowly tilting your hips as a result of your sitting posture.
What 24-year-old thinks about the health of their spine? Not this one!
Now, that’s just one health instance I am going to discuss in this healthy lifestyle blog. Working from home comes with its benefits, but blurring the lines between home and work can take a serious toll on your health.
If you’re thinking of foraying into the world of work at home jobs, then stick around for my top 10 at-home health tips. From nutrition basics to fitness routines, and of course, back pain, I’m going to help you curate the healthiest freelancing working environment possible – just because no one told me, doesn’t mean that I can’t tell you.
Let’s get started.
Hack #1: Making Your Sanctuary
I’m going to start with the most important part of curating a healthy working environment for yourself at home: the work sanctuary. Since I am going to specifically talk about your back and how you can ruin it in a forthcoming chapter, I am going to outline what you should have in your at-home work environment in this chapter, and why it is so, SO important.
For starters, your at-home workspace should be a sanctuary. It should not be a place that you hate or want to avoid. You want to treat yourself to a nice environment while you work so that you continue to like to work. That is why I recommend carving out a niche for yourself near some windows, possibly the heating vent if you’re frequently cold, next to some extra shelving for your belongings, etc.
Take some time to hang up some pictures, maybe some artwork that gets you inspired, and put some kind of music system in the space that you can access when you want to cut through the silence. Really spend some time making the space unique to you, your likes, and your interests. You want to LIKE working in this space. Otherwise, you will start to make excuses and after a while, fall behind on projects. Clients will surely notice.
Here are different essential components of your personal work sanctuary:
1. The Desk or Countertop: Where you work needs to be aligned perfectly with your height. For far too long, I sat hunched over because I did not take time to make sure the table was adjusted to my height in the chair I was using. As a result, I ended up hunched over because I was sitting in a $20 chair I got on Amazon. I didn’t think it mattered – but trust me, it did.
Therefore, make sure the surface upon which you work is adjusted perfectly to your height, whether you’re standing or sitting. I am going to touch on standing desks in another chapter, but just know that you have plenty of options available to you to ensure your head, to neck, to laptop ratio are perfectly positioned for a neutral spine.
Additionally, make sure your desk has enough space for you to keep some kind of planner, journal, and pens nearby. I find I am more organized when I have the materials I need right at my disposal.
2. The Work Chair: Nothing is more important than getting a proper work chair that is designed specifically for computer work. That means the chair can adjust in height to match your distance to the counter, as well as provide lower back support to keep you from curling inwards. If you are going to splurge, definitely splurge on your office chair. I paid $149.99 for mine on Amazon, and I am glad I did. Do not order $50 office chairs – your health and spinal alignment are going to suffer as a result.
If you’re artsy like me, get a chair that is fun and inspiring. My chair is all white. I find that more feminine and encouraging than the typical, bulky black office chair. Do yourself a favor whenever you can!
3. Create a Sound Barrier: Now, this is going to depend upon the kind of work you do. If you’re a video editor, you are going to be wearing expensive noise-canceling headphones no matter what. But, if you’re a copywriter and editor like me, then you need a quiet sanctuary. That’s why many writers end up working at home – the incessant chatter at cafes can slow down my working ability.
I would recommend a white noise machine or some kind of soothing noise machine that can play sounds in the background if you are near a construction site or if your building is noisy. If you can work with music playing, then get an Amazon Alexa or some kind of chatbot that will play music for you on voice command. Again, you want to LIKE where you work.
4. Consider Rugs or Décor: Unless your office is in an entirely carpeted room, adding in some rugs is a great way to make the space feel more homey. Plus, rugs absorb noises, as well as provide extra warmth in the winter months. You can really have fun with it and pick out some creative rugs that reflect your personal taste and style.
Your office doesn’t have to be a prison, which is why I also recommend hanging up some artwork, artifacts from your travels, photos, and any other items that inspire you. When you look up from your work to take a breath, you want to look at colorful items that remind you of fun and motivating times. Don’t just leave the walls barren – who wants to work in that kind of environment?
5. Sit Near a Window: In my old apartment, there was just one window use to light an entire railroad apartment. The darkness and dinginess got to me after a while. It turns out that light is pretty important for our sanity. Countless studies have proven we are happier when we can see the sun/outdoors.
The beauty of working for yourself is that you can control where you work. I highly recommend carving out your space right next to a window. The sunlight will keep you more alert, contribute to overall happiness, and inspire you to work harder than if you sit in the dark, or in a windowless room. Although many cubicles are windowless today, that doesn’t have to be the case for you as your own boss.
Spend some time analyzing your home or apartment and identifying where you can set up a desk near the natural sunlight.
6. Don’t Forget About Carpal Tunnel: As someone who writes over 8,000 words per day, I am no stranger to carpal tunnel. If you are typing feverishly, I highly recommend an armrest ahead of your laptop. This will release the strain on your wrists while you type. Carpal tunnel is no joke, and can require an expensive surgery if not treated with seriousness. Give your forearms a break with the right armrest.
You can also do forearm and finger stretches every night when you are done working.
Working with Little Space
I spend half of my time working out of my little apartment in Brooklyn Heights. Although it’s beautiful and I adore it, it’s a one-bedroom converted into a two bedroom for me and my roommate. Needless to say, there’s not exactly a lot of space. You have to get creative in a city like New York.
Therefore, I recommend finding an apartment with ample natural lighting, because your personal desk options will be limited. Since you will be most likely working from a countertop, be sure to get an office chair that is able to reach the height of the counter.
And if you’re short like me, make sure the chair as a foot support rest, since your feet will not be reaching the floor.
Make It Personal
I cannot stress enough how important it is to make your space personal. You want it to be a sort of “man cave” that you can’t wait to sit in and get to work. And if you feel like the space, at some point, has lost its inspiring value, try rearranging the room and start again. My sister used to rearrange her bedroom every three months. I used to think she was crazy, but looking back, I realize how happy it made her try a new setting.
Don’t fall into any ruts, or let dinginess get the best of you. Start with a personal sanctuary that provides you with a platform to be successful as a freelancer.
Hack #2: Protecting Your Back
I’m 26-years-old as I write this blog. I am considered lean, I work out frequently, and I eat healthily. None of that stopped my back from essentially bending in half. When you sit a certain way, over and over again, for years on end, your muscles start to form in a crooked way, and your tendons can shorten to that new position.
Now, don’t quote me on any of this medical jargon. Basically, I have tilted hips today. My left hip is one-inch higher than my right hip. This is because my pelvis is leaning towards my left side and starting to bend inwards, therefore pulling my spine, at the base, slightly towards my left side.
Even the slightest of tugs on your spine is highly uncomfortable. As a result, I can’t run, jump, or walk up an incline without pain right now. I am working tirelessly every single day to fix it. I spend 45 minutes doing special stretches; I meet with a personal trainer twice per week to do special exercises, and I see a massage therapist twice per month. It is an expensive problem to fix, and I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to create that perfect work sanctuary the second I started to freelance.
But alas, here we are. I don’t blame my younger self for not knowing. I was so young! That’s why I am sharing this information with you now – I am trying to spare you.
Here are a few ways in which you can protect your back while working from home every day:
1. Get a Chair with Lumbar Support: Lumbar support refers to that part of your lower back when your spine starts to curve inwards, opposing your upper back. Therefore, your lower back is designed to stay in that position, even while you are sitting. If you have no lumbar support, your spine starts to hunch and arch over, which can create a slew of back problems.
Any decent office chair comes with built-in lumbar support. However, if you are doing a lot of traveling, I highly recommend getting a lumbar support pillow. I find that trains, buses, and especially planes, have terrible seats. These seats concave inwards (to help with shock absorption), which makes sense – but is not a great position for your back. You can find pillows for $20 or less and strap them to any suitcase.
2. Wear a Posture Corrector: I have not done this, but I hear raving reviews from people who do. You can get a tiny little harness online today that slips under your clothes, around your shoulders, and essentially forces the upper half of your back into the proper posture. We end up slouching terribly today as we are constantly looking down at laptops and phones. People used to look straight forward, which is why our necks were not designed to support a head that sticks outwards and downwards.
In many instances, poor upper back posture can shift the placement of your shoulders forward, which can actually contribute to the lower back pain you are feeling. All of it is connected – from your head, down to your glutes. If one thing is out of whack, it’s going to set off problems in a variety of other places.
3. Set a Walking Alarm: Zillions of studies have shown that it’s terrible for humans to sit for more than 1-hour at a time. One particular recent study highlighted that the more you sit, the earlier you die. That’s how bad sitting is for the human body. If you take a second to look at our structures, we were clearly meant to walk, run, jump, and squat. We were not meant to sit, bent in half.
The good news is: you can counteract that with some purposeful movement. There are many apps today that will remind you when it’s time to stop and get up. Take a 5-minute break and either stretch or do a lap down the hallway. Maybe chug a glass of water. Just get up and get your organs moving.
4. Stretch Every Morning and Evening: I didn’t use to be a believer in stretching. When I worked out, I just wanted to get it done. Well, I was wrong. Stretching is a critical part of keeping your body limber and strong. Now, I spend close to 1-hour each day stretching my hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes, abs, quads, calves, and all of the other muscles around your hips and abdomen. I feel amazing afterward, and after three months of doing this religiously, I am starting to feel my back come into place.
Yoga is a great way to get this stretching in. However, you can practice effective stretches right at home with some YouTube videos.
5. See a Massage Therapist: I had never gotten a single massage in my life until I had to see a massage therapist when I visited the chiropractor for my problem. Man, I have been missing out! The massage therapist is able to pinpoint my shortened muscles and explain my skeletal misalignment. I have learned a tremendous amount regarding my body, which means I am now educated to not make this mistake again.
Massage therapists can limber up your cramped muscles and help prevent your body from developing harmful posture. I would recommend seeing one bi-weekly. They are not too expensive, and they are more important than buying an extra drink or a movie ticket – especially if you are going to run a business from your apartment with little movement in your daily routine.
6. Don’t Cross Your Legs: Based on the firing of different muscles in my legs and the bends of my feet, my personal trainer immediately identified I was a leg crosser. When you cross your legs, you are extending the inner muscles of the leg, which can grow shorter if you continue to sit in that pose every single day. This can also lead to back problems, even though you might not even realize it.
Resist the urge to cross your legs and keep them squarely apart. Also, resist the urge to lean one way or anything. Square up your body to the best of your ability while you are working each day.
Although 80% of Americans state that they have experienced back pain at one point in their lives, don’t let this be you. Don’t give in to what the back pain blogs will tell you. There is nothing more frustrating or painful than back problems. Your back supports your entire body. Your spine is a central nervous system column that you should never, ever mess with.
If you are going to work a sedentary profession, please follow these tips above for keeping your back protected.
Of course, regular exercise, in my opinion, is an integral part of keeping your back protected as well. We’re now going to look at the benefits of exercise, and why keeping your body in shape is an important part of a healthy at-home working lifestyle.
Hack #3: Exercise Daily
I really can’t stress how important it is that you make time to exercise if you are going to be working from home. When you choose to work from home, you are missing out on all of those extra steps and movements you used to take getting into the car, getting gas, walking into work, walking around work, and so forth. You must make time to proactively exercise to keep your body in healthy shape and resistant to the wear-and-tear of staying still.
Exercise is one of the best things anyone can do for their health. Here are just a few reasons why it’s especially critical if you are considering a work-at-home skilled job.
Kick-Starts Your Metabolism
I don’t know about you, but I’m guessing just about every person out there wishes they had a more active metabolism. Your metabolism is your body’s personal ability to burn calories into energy. The more you burn, the more fat you will lose. It’s a pretty simple concept.
In order to get this machine revved up, you need to move around. When you sit all day, your body doesn’t really need to generate new power. It can just remain complacent. Therefore, you will be burning calories less effectively, which can contribute to weight gain. Makes sense if you are not actively moving!
Workouts based on high-intensity-interval-training (HIIT), which is a popular way to blast fat, will kick-start your muscles for up to 24-hours at a time. These HIIT workouts include short blasts of intense exercise, like jumping up and down, doing push-ups, and so forth. In just 30 minutes, you can do enough HIIT to get many of your muscles revved until the next day.
I recommend working out in the morning if you are going to sit all day – that way, you get your muscles hungry for nutrients early on.
When we exercise, our body releases a happy hormone known as an endorphin. This feel-good hormone has been proven to energize your body and mentally make you happier. That’s why the expression “runner’s high” exists.
For me, when I am dealing with a really difficult client, I go workout. Afterward, I feel noticeably happier and calmer than when I began the workout.
Plus, I just feel better about my body. Maybe I didn’t alter it in one workout; psychologically, I just feel better about my overall appearance. It’s a silly thing, but I’m sure this is true for many women! If not for your physical health, do it for your mental health. You are going to need it if you commit to working in isolation every single day from home.
Engages Sleeping Muscles
Since my hips are tilted out of alignment, my left glute is “asleep.” The shifting of the pelvis has made it harder for me to engage this muscle, which is why I am doing special exercises to wake it back up.
Any muscle can fall asleep in your body if you don’t engage it. That’s why simply going for a run every single day is going to burn less and less calories in your body. HIIT, on the other hand, will engage sleepy muscles and get them rearing to go.
It’s important to keep muscles awake – especially muscles related to the placement of your hips and spine. As you sit all day, many muscles in this area will go to sleep. One of the easiest ways to keep them awake is through dynamic exercise.
Strengthens Back and Core Muscles
Muscles and tendons are the natural connector pieces in our bodies. They were designed to keep our skeleton in place. If you want to ensure your spine and hip joints remain where they belong, then target the muscles that keep them there.
I highly recommend working out your back, obliques, glutes, and abs on a daily basis if you want to keep your structure supported. Some easy workouts include sit-ups, planks, push-ups, side raises, and any machine that works your upper back, like rowing. This will guarantee that your muscles stay strong and engaged, thereby keeping your spine in place.
In an effort to bring my spine back where it belongs, I am strengthening the necessary muscles tenfold. You are capable of more than you think when it comes to your physical strength – believe me! I am able to do things in the gym today that I never thought were possible.
Should I Get a Personal Trainer?
If your bank account allows for it, I highly recommend getting a personal trainer. I discovered that I had an incorrect form with many workouts that also contributed to my back pain. Personal trainers can correct your form and help curate workouts that are meant specifically for your sedentary body.
They know that you need to wake up certain muscles while you endure different kinds of pressures in this working lifestyle. My trainer has completely changed my approach to exercise, and I can really feel it making a difference.
Now, if you don’t have the funds yet, that’s ok. Start by watching YouTube videos and following fitness professionals on Instagram. But, beware: not everyone on there knows what they are talking about. Take time to really research them and read the comments. You do not want to take faulty fitness information into account.
Still, making fitness part of your everyday hobby is a great way to open up to this kind of living.
Lastly, if you can’t make it to the gym on a given day, I highly recommend going for a brisk walk. Anything you can do related to exercising is going to benefit your body. I take active rest days when I am not going to the gym. On these days, I try to walk more than 5 miles. It’s a great cardiovascular activity that will get your heart rate up while still permitting your body to repair any sore or tender muscles.
To me, all of this is essential for protecting your body while you work from home. Exercise is a preventative measure that can keep your body prepared for the demands of sitting all day. Instead of being reactive to potential problems, why not be proactive and get out ahead of them? Exercising is a great way to make that happen.
Hack #4: Ample Sleep
Doctors agree that we’re supposed to get between 7 and 9-hours of sleep in our 20s and 30s. How many of you actually make sure that’s a reality on a daily basis? I’m just as guilty as you of scrolling through memes and failing to power down social media past 11:00 PM. Night time is finally a time in which we get a moment for ourselves, which is why we end up relaxing longer than we should.
I can’t stress how important ample sleep is for working hard with clarity, vision, and focus. Some of us aren’t good sleepers, and I certainly fall into that category. I’m going to share some of my tactics for working with my body when it just doesn’t want to power down in the evening.
I’ve been a bad sleeper since I was a child. I blame it on my supersonic hearing. I can hear everything, including when I am sleeping. If someone in an apartment two-floors down from me sneezes, my subconscious can hear it. I wish I were kidding – I sleep with a white noise machine on full volume to try and drown out the noises around me.
If you’re a bad sleeper, just know that you are not alone. Whether you have insomnia, you nap too much during the day, you do too much screen time in the evening, or you just naturally don’t get into REM, I feel for you.
Here are a few of my tricks for getting the best sleep I can possibly get:
● Shut Down the Screens: I don’t need to share the countless studies showing just how bad blue light is for us and our eyes. This light tricks our bodies into thinking the sun is coming back up. Therefore, try and turn off all screens at least two hours before bed. TVs do not count as blue light, which means you can sit down and watch TV before bed just fine. It really makes a difference.
● Drown Out the Noise: I used to use a fan to sleep and found it drying me out so badly. White noise machines are God’s gift to the earth. They are only about $55 on Amazon – and boy, are they worth it. Set it to the setting you want to hear and let it drown out the noise that probably wakes you up throughout the night.
● Don’t Nap: I love naps just as much as the next person. Napping is terrible for natural sleep cycles. Please try to resist the urge to nap if you want to sleep well that night.
● Avoid Drinking Every Single Night: I sleep terribly if I have more than two glasses of wine. Our bodies do not receive the same restful sleep if we go to sleep tipsy or drunk. Therefore, try and keep the casual drinking to a minimum for your body.
● Make Your Bed a Sanctuary: Make your bed as comfortable as possible. Splurge on sheets and blankets that make you feel like you’re drifting away on a cloud.
● Read: Nothing puts me to sleep like a good blog right before bed. I highly recommend getting into a reading habit after you lay down to sleep. I can only make it through 20 or 30-pages of a good blog before feeling sleepy.
● Melatonin: Sometimes, no matter what I do, I just can’t feel sleepy. I occasionally take melatonin as an extra boost. It’s a natural option for you to consider as opposed to dangerous sleeping pills. If it’s really bad, I take Benadryl to ensure I am going to fall into a deep sleep. I only do this before flights, etc.
The Importance of Making Time for Sleep
Now, let’s not confuse natural sleeping problems with failing to curate a proper sleep schedule. It might have been cool in college to pull an all-nighter, but no one thinks that’s cute today. You need to carve out an 8-hour window for your body to lay down and try and get some shut-eye if you want to have 16 hours of focus the next day.
Remember that working for yourself, working from home, or working while traveling is going to take more dedication and focus than a plain 9-to-5 job. Trust me, I have worked both. Therefore, try and create a predictable sleep schedule for yourself. Our bodies do better with predictable cycles, which is why I can’t stress how important it is to carve in some sleep normalcy for your bodies.
Your Body is Your Sanctuary
Studies have shown that the less we sleep, the less we live. I’m not kidding – sleep is so important to your overall health that skimping out on it is going to catch up with you. If you want to run your own business, you have to be on your A-game. Your body can only rejuvenate itself while you sleep.
Hack #5: Make a Strict Schedule
One of the simplest ways to keep your at-home working lifestyle in check is to plan out each day. Without a schedule, you’ll find yourself running rampant in ways you never knew were possible, considering there’s no boss keeping that schedule for you now. As this starts to happen, our health suffers at the expense of our crazy planning. We sleep less, we exercise less, and we eat more poorly living in anarchy.
That’s why a strict schedule is so important for a healthy lifestyle working from home. I swear by it. In fact, I think it’s the most important ingredient for making a lot of money working from your countertop or desk.
Time is a valuable commodity, but it can get the best of you if you don’t keep it in check.
Here are just a few reasons why you need a strict schedule:
● Maximize Productivity: As I mentioned in another blog of mine “Time Management for Freelancers,” in order to maximize your productivity, you need to grab each minute of the day. That starts with blocking out your day to the 15-minute interval. Time is of the essence, and if you want to feel in control of this commodity, you need to master it with the strictest schedule imaginable. You should see the schedules of billionaires – they fit in more in one day than most people do in a month.
Don’t be ashamed to strictly budget out your business time. That way, you can ensure time is leftover for your health.
● Make Time for Exercise: Do not throw away exercise if your schedule starts to get busier. Instead, shift your sleeping schedule accordingly so you can wake up earlier and fit more in. Exercise is so important for your body, muscular structure, overall happiness, and longevity. With a schedule, you can ensure you make time for exercise 4 to 5 times per week.
● Plan for Sleep: If you know that work is going to keep you up until midnight on Tuesday, then plan to start work at 9:00 AM the next day. You can always preserve your 8-hour sleep window. It’s just a matter of prioritizing tasks and planning ahead for your health.
● Schedule in Fun Time: If you don’t want to go crazy, you need to build in some me-time working from home. It’s essential since you are going to be blurring the lines working where you live. With a schedule, you can ensure time for socialization and fun a few days out. For example, if a friend has a birthday party on Friday night, start to plan the week around it so that you don’t have to sacrifice seeing your friend. There are no excuses when you make a schedule.
I highly recommend keeping a journal or online log of this schedule, so you can see it at all times. There are a lot of software options and apps out there that can centralize all of your schedules in one place as well, if you have organization problems.
After a while, this kind of planning will become second-nature, and you won’t think twice about it. You’ll begin to master time in a way that won’t take a toll on your body.
I wasn’t always careful about this, which is why I am paying for it with my back right now. If work starts to pick up unexpectedly, instead of getting overwhelmed and throwing away all preparation, remain calm and whip out your planner. You got this.
Hack #6: Schedule Active Meetings
Meetings are an inevitable part of doing business with clients. These clients want to get to know you, as well as know that they can command your attention from time-to-time, whether that be in person or through the computer. If you say no, you’ll be without clients.
Although in other blogs, I will talk about the advantages of Fiverr. This anonymous freelance platform removes the need for meetings, so you can pound out orders without the hand-holding.
But in the meantime, you need to make meetings a part of your life. Studies have shown that the higher up people climb in organizations, the more meetings they end up sitting in. Meetings are boring and lack movement, which is why they can be a health trap. My roommate occasionally has 3-hour meetings – yikes.
The beauty of working from home is that you don’t have to conform to that kind of structure anymore. You can do something about your meetings. You can make them active.
What Are Active Meetings?
Active meetings imply you are moving in some kind of way while the meeting is occurring. The world is definitely catching on to this trend, with a new kind of stationary bike desk chairs being released, standing desks in offices, and so forth. If a meeting only requires listening and response abilities, why not get your body moving in the meantime?
Here are a few ways to create active meetings in your life:
● Yoga During Digital Calls: Naturally, most of your client calls are going to be through the computer or phone if you work from home. That gives you plenty of opportunities to move around while the call is happening. I know people that have a yoga mat set up in their apartment for meetings. Simply go on with your stretches with your phone on speaker. Yoga is a silent physical activity and one that is incredibly important for your body if you are going to sit all day.
● Stationary Bike Chairs: With digital calls, you can also remain seated if you have a stationary bike chair. With these chairs, you essentially pedal a bike sitting down for however long you please. If you decide to do this activity for two hours, you can burn up to 1,000-calories. Talk about a good source of cardio!
This seated activity is incredibly easy to do while you take calls. In fact, you can pedal this chair doing just about anything work-related.
● Standing In Person: If you have to meet in person, discuss the possibility of standing during the meeting with your client. If you are more open about your health requirements upfront, they won’t find it as weird. Don’t wait until the last second, however, to tell them that you are health conscious. If they planned to sit, they are going to be frustrated.
● Walking In Person: This is a very California concept, but why not go on a bike ride or for a walk while you have a meeting with a client? It’s a great way to walk a 5k while also productively listening to their wants in needs. By the end, it will make you hate meetings a little less if it means you get to move while they’re happening.
We are definitely seeing a shift towards active meeting normalcy right now in the working world. If you feel this is a weird concept to spring on your clients, know that you are not the only one doing it. It’s going to catch on like wildfire, especially as more people join the gig economy today.
Hack #7: Fill Your Home with Healthy Food
I don’t know about you, but I can’t say no to food that’s directly in front of me. I do a pretty good job of eating healthily, but it’s simply because I have curated food that is healthy to eat in my apartment. One of the most dangerous parts of working from home is being in walking distance of your refrigerator throughout the day.
However, if you “starve yourself” of nasty food while you’re working at home, I find that you’re more likely to just eat the healthy food you have near you. You have the advantage of working at home – you can cook in your kitchen. As a result, I actually eat way more healthily than I ever did in an office when people wanted to go out for lunch a few times per week.
It definitely took me a while to figure out how to curate the perfect food haven, but now that I have, I fill my body with brain food from sunrise until sunset. Of course, when I travel, this kind of convenience disappears. But it’s still important to make time for it when you are home.
Here are a few things I learned over the years for my personal at-home food haven:
● Get Rid of All Junk Food: If you have bags of potato chips in your home, you are going to stick your hand into the bag if you are in that same vicinity Monday through Friday from morning until evening. Just get rid of the junk food altogether. There’s no need to have it in the home.
That’s not to say you can’t still have some fun snack foods. Places like Trader Joes have entire snack sections that are devoted to healthy snacking, with plenty of rice crackers, nuts, granola, and so forth. I would advise you also to limit your healthy snack purchases, because eating in excess can diminish their value. This first step is critically important – rid your home of all the food you can possibly binge while you are working.
● Prepare Food You Want to Eat: I am going to touch on meal prepping in the next chapter, but if you have an abundance of delicious and healthy food already prepared around you, you are going to eat it. You are not going to make an unnecessary trip to Chipotle for a burrito.
● Using Cooking as Work “Down-Time:” I personally find cooking to be a great break from my workflow. I cook lunch and dinner, and honestly, I have grown to love it. It’s such a nice break from staring at the computer. It allows me to unplug and it gives my eyes a much-needed break. If you don’t have dinner plans, definitely make time to whip up a fun meal that will take you 30-60 minutes. It’s a great way to pull yourself away from work.
● Frequent Farmer’s Markets: In Brooklyn, my apartment is just 100-feet away from a Farmer’s Market. I use it as an opportunity to leave the apartment and get some fresh air. Plus, this food isn’t covered in the pesticides and preservatives we are so used to eating today. Everything you can get at a Farmer’s Market is considered healthy brain food, containing much of the food’s original vitamins that are often stripped through our food system today.
● Make It Fun: Make eating healthy fun! Plan out your meals, find new ways to cook recipes that you love, and share your meals with friends and family. Make a Farmer’s Market schedule, and really commit to the healthy food part of your daily schedule.
I don’t know about you, but if I eat a huge hamburger and French fries, I just don’t feel the motivation to get back to work and crush it. But, if I eat a big helping of egg whites, a sweet potato, some broccoli, and some turkey bacon, now I feel like I am ready to take on the day. I snack on fruit whenever I am hungry, and I prevent myself from eating dessert after lunch.
I have found the sugar crash in the afternoon makes it really hard for me to stay focused. So in reality, my work schedule has forced me to adopt this healthy eating. It’s impossible for me to manage my empire without brain fuel.
Hack #8: Drink Water
I am the worst water drinker in the entire world. For some reason, my body does not feel thirsty in the way other bodies do. If I don’t drink water all day, I do not crave water. It is the weirdest and, honestly, most annoying problem. I, therefore, get headaches on occasion from dehydration, as well as aches when I have really fallen short on my water intake.
However, considering our bodies are 60-65% water, this critical resource is something we need to prioritize if we want to stay healthy, energized, and hydrated throughout the day.
As has been the theme of this blog, working from home can mess with natural schedules and cycles that make things like drinking water more difficult. When you are at home and relaxing in your personal sanctuary, you don’t think about your water bottle in the same way you do when you are not home. That’s why you need to set up alerts that ensure you are getting in your eight glasses of water per day.
I don’t know about you, but I feel tremendously better when I remember to feed my body with water throughout the day. Studies have shown that this can seep into everything we do, including our cognitive functions and overall bodily energy. Therefore, water = productivity.
Here are a few things I do to ensure I drink more water than I necessarily want to drink:
● Add Lemon or Lime: Sometimes, the plain taste of water isn’t enough for me. I need a little zest added to it so it’s more delectable. I am not a believer in trashing water bottles every single day, so I have my own Swell bottle that I carry around. Sometimes, tap water in new locations can taste disgusting, which is why adding a little lemon or lime can go a long way. Now you have a drink with some refreshment in it that will make you want to drink the water more frequently.
Not to mention, studies have shown that lemon water, first thing in the morning, can actually boost the performance of your metabolism throughout the day.
● Make Tea: I am a huge tea drinker. I use it as a way to get myself to drink more water. I am aware that tea is not the same thing as water, and that it can have dehydrating principles. But still, a drink is a drink, and I am not about to give up my tea drinking any time soon.
● Try Hint Water: Have you ever tried Hint water? It is the most delicious thing out there. There are no added sweeteners, preservatives, or carbonation to this drink, which makes it a great water alternative that will leave you licking your lips.
● Set Alarms on Your Phone: My sister has an alarm on her phone that reminds her to take a sip of water every 30 minutes. Yes, believe it or not, that’s how frequently you should be consuming water. Adding an alarm into your phone is an easy and cost-effective way to get your body into a new kind of water habit.
● Download Apps: If you want to get a little more intense, there are plenty of mobile apps out there that dive deeper into water consumption, not only reminding you when to drink, but also covering how much to drink and at what time. You can track water consumption and ensure that you are never dehydrated.
● Program It into Your Apple Watch or FitBit: Apple products and FitBits come with alert systems that also remind you to take a swig of agua.
● Make Hot Chocolate with Water: This is a trick that I do after eating dinner – I make hot chocolate with water. It’s an easy way to get down one to two glasses of water while also enjoying a low-fat sweet treat that will satisfy your sweet tooth.
As you can see, I am an expert on this water-drinking topic. It’s because I truly don’t enjoy drinking it. Don’t feel ashamed if you’re a bad water consumer – we’re in the same boat.
It’s an easy problem to fix, thank goodness!
Hack #9: Change Your Location Occasionally
I know this sort of goes against the work from home blog guide, but I think it’s incredibly important that you still mix up your setting if you are going to be working from home. Hear me out – I would propose that you change your working location 10-15% of the time you are working. That means you still get to hang at home 90% of the time, just as you wanted. But for that other 10%, mixing things up can be incredibly beneficial to your mental stability and stimulation as a social creature.
I often feel incredibly lonely working at home. I am an extrovert, which means I feel recharged when I am talking and sitting with people. I do not enjoy my alone time, so working in isolation can be really hard for me. Yes, I have a cat, but animals are not quite the same thing. I schedule in social gatherings and dinners all week to ensure I have some kind of human stimulation on a daily basis.
But more than that, I have recognized the importance of getting up and out of my space from time to time. I have allowed myself to go down the rabbit hole and I have worked out of my home without venturing into public for too long sometimes. I can tangibly feel the mental effects, and I can tell you: they are not good.
Biologically, we are social creatures, which means we need to socialize in order to feel joy. Therefore, whether you want to or not, I challenge you to change your location occasionally. Here are the ways in which I add some diversity to my days:
● Co-Working Spaces: I am spoiled here in New York City with the number of co-working spaces around me. For a little fee per month, you can work out of these places from time-to-time to meet new people. Since I was accepted into the Soho House in 2018, I go to one of the clubs to get in my public working time. But, it doesn’t have to be as fancy as that – many small cities have business hubs today, waiting for people like you.
● Coffee Shops: If you’re short on cash, working out of coffee shops is an easy way to pull yourself out of your cave and freely work around other humans. I must admit, I am a fan of Starbucks and their free WiFi. I actually made a business connection working out of a Starbucks the other day.
● Traveling: I make sure I go on some kind of excursion every single month, forcing me to change my work-from-home haven and step out of my comfort zone. Even if it’s a short trip away by car, I highly recommend taking advantage of your digital nomad lifestyle and opening up your shop from anywhere in the world.
● Coffee/Lunch Dates: Why wait for someone to initiate a lunch date when you can be the one to do it? Suggest coffee with business prospects every week. You will make new friends, win new clients, and get in some much-needed socialization in a new setting. Even if it’s just one day per week, it’s still an important thing to consider for a healthy schedule.
And last, but not least, I am going to touch on taking breaks and shutting down. This is one of the most common questions I am asked through my standing on social media: “How do you manage to work from where you live? Don’t you find it hard to separate personal from work?”
Hack #10: Take Breaks & Shut Downs
Step away from the computer. Turn the phone off. Don’t check your email until the morning.
These are three things you need to learn how to enforce on yourself if you are going to work at home. When you place your professional life in your personal life, the lines are going to blur. You need to have a solid line that you do not cross, no matter what. Since you have no boss telling you it’s time to go home for the day, you need to be that boss, and you need to decide enough is enough.
Over my years of working from home, I have definitely had trouble blurring this line. When someone offers to tip you an extra $25 if you get something done by 11:00 PM, it’s hard to say no – especially just starting out with little money.
However, I could feel over-time how important shutting down is for my physical and mental longevity. Not to mention, don’t forget about your eyes! Our eyes weren’t meant to stare at this thing for 14 hours per day. Everything is best in moderation, and working beyond what you should work is going to catch up with you in time; it always does.
So how have I managed to conquer this problem and carve out a healthy working lifestyle right at home? I hold true to the following practices:
● Strict Shutdown Time: I am very strict about what time I power down throughout the week. If it’s a normal day and I have things I want to do, I make myself shut down by 6:00 PM. If it’s one of my crunch time days, I make myself shut down by 9:00 PM, so I still have two hours to unwind and do what I want to do. I have made this a rule for myself for three years now, and I follow it strictly. It’s incredibly important – I can’t stress this enough.
● Separate Office Space: I would recommend keeping your workspace outside of your bedroom. You want some rooms in your home to remain separate from work. I strictly keep all working spaces and my laptop out of my bedroom so that after a long day, I can lay down and feel separate from my work.
● One Day Completely Off: Every week, I take Sundays off from work. It is my day of worship, day of rest, and day of reflection. I make clients accept deadlines for Monday, and I am not apologetic about taking the day off. I need to do it for myself. I have found that if you are upfront about this with people, they will respect you for it.
● Social Engagement Rule: I make time for dinners, parties, gatherings, and other kinds of social engagements. I make sure they come first. So if someone invites me to a party on Saturday, I make sure starting right now, I carve out enough time to make it to that party. Remember: life is supposed to be worth living! That means that friends, family, and lovers deserve to come ahead of your work.
I hope you will take my healthy lifestyle hacks seriously and spare yourself from the mental, physical, and emotional anguish I have suffered over the years due to a lack of preparedness. These are simple suggestions that you can start following today to preserve your body for the future.
We are entering a completely decentralized working world, which means this information is more important than ever. I want you to go out there and share these health tips, nutrition hacks, and back pain points with the people in your life embarking on a work-from-home lifestyle.
You’re already going to be working hard enough; don’t punish your body for it.
I hope you enjoyed my work-at-home job blog! Feel free to comment below and check out my other blogs, available today.