People who work from home- how do you get your day started early?
October 1, 2015 8:05 PM   Subscribe

I've fallen into a bad pattern of starting the days work later. Sometimes I don't get going till 3 or 4 PM! Give me your tips & tricks to get started on the day early, reliably.
posted by skjønn to Work & Money (25 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: And just to head off the ineveitable- I do not have depression, trust me it is not that deep. THings are good but I need a proverbial kick in the pants.
posted by skjønn at 8:06 PM on October 1, 2015

Get dressed and go get a coffee and come back to start your work. Or schedule a gym class first thing. Or both. Key is to get dressed and get out.
posted by zutalors! at 8:10 PM on October 1, 2015 [11 favorites]

I still struggle with it even after 20 years. In my own case, it's certainly related to perfectionism and anxiety. The only way I've ever gotten around it is to just get up, piss and put a bit of time in on the job before eating or doing anything else. With me, it's the rituals around coffee, breakfast and social networking (and Metafiltering) that get the day off to a bad start and furthur jack my anxiety levels. An early bedtime is good. Then again, e leventh hour panic helps too.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:28 PM on October 1, 2015 [10 favorites]

I go for a run basically as soon as the kids are off to school. Sometimes I'll even run for as long as an hour despite the pile of work waiting for me. It's delightfully freeing and I don't even feel guilty because I know I would just waste that hour clicking around on google news before actually getting down to work anyway.

When I'm back from a run and freshly showered, it's way easier to actually get things done.
posted by 256 at 8:29 PM on October 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

I schedule calls in the morning. Not going to lie: I pretty much just roll out of bed to do them (damn people's increasing need to do video calls!) but it gets me up and at that point I'm already in front of my computer so it's easy enough to keep going.
posted by marylynn at 8:32 PM on October 1, 2015 [7 favorites]

Go outside and get a newspaper, either from a newspaper stall or a newspaper kiosk. At that point, you might as well put on pants and start the day.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 8:38 PM on October 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

I became a parent. Worked for me. No lazy mornings anymore!

(I also scheduled firewall changes such that my favorite timewasting sites were blocked in the morning. Those could be bypassed, though. Toddlers cannot be redirected with a cron job. [More's the pity.])
posted by BrunoLatourFanclub at 8:50 PM on October 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

I turn off my Internet at 9am, and it comes back on at 12. This gives me hours of uninterrupted work, and it's amazing how much I can get done in that time. Of course, that only helps if your work doesn't require constant access to the internet.

It also makes me get out of bed earlier, because my internet-addicted self wants a half-hour of solid coffee-drinking Twitter time.
posted by mjm101 at 8:57 PM on October 1, 2015 [6 favorites]

I have a job where I can work from my office or from home. I worked from home for a long time before I got this job and I still work from home once a week. If you have an office you can go to, go there sometimes. When I worked from home exclusively I made two places my work spots: Starbucks and the local public library. I went there every day for at least half of my workday. Now that I have an office I work about 75% from there and 25% from home.

I have a remote control overhead light and I turn it on about a half hour before I need to be out of bed. I also set my alarm an hour early so that I can spend an hour dozing around before I actually get out of bed. I'd rather do that than have to get out of bed right when I wake up. When I do finally get out of bed, I get in the shower and then I put on real clothes and real shoes. After I have a few productive hours in I let myself switch to sweatpants.

Finally, I set out my clothes before I go to sleep, and I either set up my coffee to automagically be ready when I wake up or I decide to go to Starbucks the next morning.
posted by sockermom at 9:01 PM on October 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

I make plans at the time that I want to be done with work, like a pre-booked yoga class or dinner with a friend at 6pm. That way I know I NEED to get going on time.
posted by joan_holloway at 9:16 PM on October 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is a remedial approach, but in case that's what you need, here it is. I'm on day 4 and it's working so far.

I wrote out all the steps of my morning routine in painful detail, in an order that's logical for me, and put it in WorkFlowy (under "Morning Steps"). Your logic and steps would obviously differ, but as an example, mine are:

1. Wake

2. Put water on for coffee. This is the big reward pulling me through, also something I have to be responsible for that has a time limit (because I use a particular method and certain proportions that involve the possibility of water boiling over if I forget about it)

3. Wash face/brush teeth while it boils. (Water on eyes essential at this stage; hate brushing teeth after coffee)

4. Have coffee. Set a timer for 20 mins. All I'm doing now is working towards alertness and enjoying that coffee. I tried not going to the internet at all, but had mild withdrawal. The alarm helps; I also got the Firefox Mind The Time extension, which lets you know you've spent x mins online (and gives you a report on how/where you spend it). I find LeechBlock stressful because of the commitment (and ensuing compulsion, tbh). Mind The Time is just a little reminder that time is actually passing and that I could use it better.

5. Do PT exercises. This is the key element, imo. Blood gets moving, can't help but start to feel alert and want to be productive, it's gentle, so doesn't make me nauseous or later resent sitting, like morning cardio does. (And it doesn't involve having to put sunscreen on, wash it off, put it on again, plan two outfits with half a brain going, etc.) If mornings are rough for you too, I think sticking to something mellow but arousing like that is worth trying. You could maybe do 10 sun salutations, or a short bodyweight routine.

6. Wash last night's dishes, which I feel like doing now, because I have energy from the PT exercises.

7. Make eggs & eat them (after exercises, because I don't like doing them on a full stomach)

8. Quick shower; wash hair every other day, use cap in between

9. Dress, do hair

10. Sit to plan the day, respond to emails.

Aim is to do that within 1 hr 15 - 1 hr 30 minutes.

Then, I either leave for a quick errand/walk before coming back to do stuff at home, or go to one of a couple of coffee shops I've chosen in advance (because they have good seating and either good internet, or none at all, which is helpful when I don't want it). Rest of the day is do stuff. Finish ~6-8pm. Everything has to be done by 6-8 pm.

If I'm out, I go back home to drop things off and get gym clothes; go to the gym, grab groceries on the way back, cook, eat. (Doing cardio in the evening has been helpful with sleep, YMMV with that, and also defines the outside boundary of the day.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:33 PM on October 1, 2015 [9 favorites]

I take a very different approach from a lot of the other commenters. For me the key is: I do some work very shortly after waking — before showering, eating, etc. (I've stopped drinking coffee, so that isn't a factor anymore.) Even though I generally don't consider myself a morning person, I'll get up and feel like: OK, I can get some writing done pretty quickly, right now, taking advantage of the fact that I can do this right away without needing to commute anywhere.

Then, I'll congratulate myself for getting some work done so early. I feel good about that. The day is off to a good start.

Then I'll do the usual showering, shaving, getting dressed, and having breakfast. Then I have to do more work before I can justify having lunch. After lunch, I come back and work, etc....
posted by John Cohen at 10:28 PM on October 1, 2015 [6 favorites]

I also do work right upon waking, rather than "getting ready" or anything like that. I wake up at 6:30, brush teeth and grab a glass of water, boot up my computer, respond to emails and try to do a good hour or so of work. Meanwhile my wonderful husband makes breakfast; after about an hour-ish of work, I take a 30 minute break to walk the dogs and eat breakfast [you could whip up some eggs or oatmeal or something quickly yourself; cold brew makes coffee super easy in the am too]. Then, I go right back to work til ~12pm. I break to walk the dogs, look at the internet, eat a quick bite (a firm cutoff time for my lunch break is KEY here). Then I work til between 2-3pm, depending on how busy I am and when I reach a good stopping point.

I am always done with work by 3pm -- I try to schedule other things around 3/4ish (gym, errands, beach w/ other work-from-home ppl, etc) so that I can't just shift my workday later. I don't shower or get properly dressed until after work it done. Once you have a few days with your work obligation ending at 3, you'll be motivated to get up early and get going.

note: there are things working in my favor - I'm a morning person, have a spouse who also works from home, and the rest of my team is in a time zone 6 hrs earlier than mine so I have a valid business reason to be up so early
posted by melissasaurus at 10:58 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

There is one thing that works really well for me. I arrange coffee dates with friends at a very early time in the morning. These last an hour or so, sometimes two hours if we're having a really great time. Then I'm all charged up, my attitude is in place, and I'm ready to go.

I have to get up and go, because I've made a date and my friend will be waiting.

Also, this is is good for keeping friendships going.
posted by Puddle Jumper at 1:25 AM on October 2, 2015

It depends upon your line of business, but I have set office hours between 10 & 12. If anybody wants to call, that's when I pick up. It means I need to be up, awake and at the computer because you never know if anybody's going to call.

Then since I'm sentient anyway (not a morning person, yo), I switch off all distractions - you can get apps that'll switch off social media etc - and I start going through emails etc.
posted by kariebookish at 4:00 AM on October 2, 2015

I used to have a colleague who got up, got ready, and went for a walk around the block as their "commute," then came back and got to work. They did the reverse at the end of the day to "commute" home. It worked for them.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:05 AM on October 2, 2015 [6 favorites]

I make coffee right away, then sit on my couch with a notebook and brainstorm - how can I make today an Ultimate Day? (Utimate as in great.) If I were going to have a great day, what would it look like and what things would I get done? I end up with a good size list, generally more than I could do in a day, which is OK because then I have ideas for tomorrow's list too.

I usually get excited about/interested in getting started on my list and jump right in.

But, that works with my personality because I like getting up early and getting started. I feel great in the morning but I know not everyone does. When do you feel great/at your best? If that's at 3pm, maybe doing your work at that time is helping you do a better job in the long run. In any case, whenever you have the most mojo, consider attempting to line up Mojo Time with Work Time.
posted by TheClonusHorror at 6:05 AM on October 2, 2015

I have a daily 10am meeting with my team; anyone working from home that day calls in to participate. It takes a small bit of mental energy to put together notes on what I did yesterday and what I plan to do to day, and that usually puts my brain into 'active' mode which usually gets me up and moving.
posted by xbonesgt at 6:54 AM on October 2, 2015

I generally make a to-do list (or a fresh one, anyway) toward the end of the day. So in the morning I can pick the low-hanging fruit off it to get going.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:00 AM on October 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a Start Work alarm set for 8:30 AM.
posted by smackfu at 8:34 AM on October 2, 2015

yup, toddlers are a very reliable wake-up system. Failing that, cats are good too.

But seriously, I also work from home and I just have a set schedule. I go to work from 9-5, just like other people, but I'm just going to my home office rather than another building. That kind of mental trick works well for me.... People expect me to answer my phone and read email by 9am, so I have to do it. I do find getting out of the house for a walk or a run really helps, even if it's just around the block (I like to do that at the end of the day too). I also have stuff to do in the evenings, so I have to finish work by 5 or so so I can go do my fun stuff/other non-work stuff.

I also try to read email and review my work schedule for the day before I allow myself to check facebook or whatever, so I get the most pressing stuff done before getting distracted.
posted by john_snow at 12:04 PM on October 2, 2015

Knowing that I have a video conference call at 10:30 a.m. every day is a good kickstarter for me.

I'm more of a morning person anyway, though.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 2:14 PM on October 2, 2015

Being expected to show myself and be present in work chat once I'm on for the day, just like having to be seen at my desk in a physical workplace, gets me going, as do client calls. Having scheduled times to be "at work" and/or "in meetings," even when work is chat and meetings are video calls, helps hold me accountable. Also, having coworkers and clients to check in with who are one time zone later than mine makes it crucial for me to get going relatively on time. And the requirement to track my time each day makes it a necessity to keep up with work. You need passive systems in place like this that keep you accountable—even if that's just the expectation that by a certain time of day, your coworkers will start seeing work product emailed back or work tickets addressed or your check-in with them in chat. Part of doing your job is likely being present and managing expectations regarding your workflow, so spending time getting organized and getting tasks and items flowing is a legitimate way to begin the day. Inasmuch as assessing status can be no fun, finding ways to signal that you are present and working can help make sure you're holding yourself accountable.

If I'm not feeling well, it's easy to let this slip by a half hour or so—I was sick much of the past month, and my days frequently started between 9:30 and 10 a.m. my time—but if that's the case, I try to make it up on the back end and stay later or come back on later in the evening for a while. In my case, part of the job is being present for whatever comes up, so I do need to be available during the day as much as possible, but a lot of the non-time-related work product can be created on a flexible schedule.

Otherwise, in terms of getting started, the way I ease into things, unless something urgent presents itself or I'm running behind on something that needs to be done that day, is to check email, read through the backscroll in work chat, and take action on anything that comes up. From there, moving into the work of the day is usually a smooth transition. Perhaps something will happen to draw me into a given project, or I'll need to create an agenda for a meeting and check in with my team, or I'll need to write an email or correspond with a client in chat. Then there will be a meeting on the schedule and I need to round up the team. Each day of the week starts to take on its own shape as this goes on and certain meetings and check-in times become routine, and soon you have a pretty steady rhythm for the way each week will go.

Another way I ensure I'll get going on the right stuff as soon as possible in the morning is to schedule calendar events for myself; I'll add items to my calendar like TAKE CARE OF THAT DAMN THING, whatever it might be, set to alert me 15 minutes 'til 9 a.m. If it's on the calendar, that is a cue that my better self, the one with foresight who wasn't in the throes of procrastination, knew this thing was important and in need of doing at a given time. I'll also stack up my inbox, which I use as my to-do list, with items that need to be addressed first the next day, so once I clear new items out of the inbox, the items that are next in line are naturally the ones that most need doing. I usually send a to-do–list email to myself about an item even if I put a note to self on the calendar, just to make sure everywhere I look, info about what I should be doing is unavoidable.

Otherwise, taking a shower, getting dressed, and doing my hair and makeup is also an important way to maintain ties to the world of the living and get going each morning. I highly recommend it! And having a break to look forward to, like a walk for lunch, can be motivating to get through the morning's work.
posted by limeonaire at 7:48 PM on October 2, 2015

Yeah, getting out right away helps me, too. Failing that, just showering, dressing, and exercising right after waking up usually do the trick (assuming I have work scheduled immediately after, as a routine). Unfortunately, allowing myself to browse the web, play a game, scan through email, or otherwise do anything but Get Going Right Away makes it a gazillion times harder to get started, even with a strict schedule in place. I can take little play/rest breaks later without losing too much momentum.
posted by moira at 7:14 PM on October 3, 2015

I get dressed in business casual. Most importantly, I put on shoes. Something about wearing shoes lets my body know that this isn't relaxing at home time. The business casual dress just helps me get into a mental place for making calls. For things that would normally distract me during the day, I try to write those on a list to consider doing when I'm done with work. It took years to get to this point. I finally decided that I just did not like the feeling of still having work that needed to get done hanging over my head as the day got later and later. So I created the habit of get work out of the way so I have the rest of the day to myself.
posted by vignettist at 10:19 PM on October 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

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