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In this episode, Chelsea walks us through the steps that help her work better from home, taken from her experience as a WFH freelancer, to a sometimes-remote business owner, back to working almost entirely from home.

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Hey, guys. It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet. And for this week's video, we've partnered with And this week, I wanted to talk to you about the golden rules that I have personally found for working from home in a way that allows you to be highly functional and not drive yourself crazy. For a lot of you, you may be working from home for the first time in your life. For others, this may just be a continuation of your usual work-from-home schedule but with the added stress of a global pandemic and mass quarantine, which never helps. And for me, it's kind of somewhere between the two. I used to be a full-time freelance writer, and I also used to work remotely for another media company from a remote location. So for several years, I worked full time from home, often on sort of an odd schedule compared to the rest of my co-workers. For the beginning of TFD, we also worked from home out of necessity. And though TFD has been working out of an office for the past several years now, obviously, for the past month, like most of you, we've been working from home again, too. But I do feel lucky in that this new phase of working from home is unexpected, but it's also nothing new for me in general. I have a ton of experience in the matter and, overall, despite a lot of hiccups in my personal life on top of the coronavirus, I'm actually feeling pretty OK. And a huge part of that is making sure that my work-from-home schedule does not start to feel like my work life and my personal life are blending into this depression soup that I can never exit. There aren't too many golden rules, but they're important to follow if you want to make the most of this work-from-home time, whether it's temporary or indefinite. And, of course, do remember, above all else, that if right now you are working from home and find it difficult, take solace in the fact that being able to do your job and continue your source of income from the comfort of your own home, even if it feels stressful, is still a huge privilege. Allow yourself to feel lucky. But without further ado, let's get into those golden rules of working from home.

Number one is create a commute. One of the biggest difficulties with working from home is having a complete blur between your work life and home life, which always makes you feel as if you could be getting more done or if you've never really finished your day. To combat this, you should create a specific routine that you go through every morning before you "arrive at work" as well as dedicating a specific spot in your home which is specifically for work. You should also have a specific routine that you follow when you're "leaving work." And make sure that even if you do use that workspace for other purposes, it's not immediately following work, just simply changing your environment even by going across the room, can have a huge impact on how you perceive your time. And before anyone sits here and tells me that it's difficult to do because they live in a small living space, the majority of the time that I was working from home, I was working out of a 230 square foot studio apartment with no separate rooms, and I managed to make sure that I had a routine that I followed and a specific space that was for work time only. It's, frankly, cliché at this point to say that one should get dressed for a day at the office even when you're working from home. And quite frankly, who has time to be doing all of that laundry? But if, for you, the option of putting on a button-down shirt, and jeans, and everything you might wear to work is simply not an option, find at least a few things that you can do with your physical self that help make you feel like you're not just extending your bed time. For me, every morning, I do my eyebrows and I apply a little bit of tinted lip balm on my lips and on my eyelids, because even though it doesn't dramatically change how I feel, I just have that little sense of being slightly more put together, and also don't feel utterly caught off guard by surprise video calls, which are, unfortunately, quite common these days. And as I highlighted earlier, if possible, make sure that the space you're using for work is not also being used for other things. For some of us, that's not a complete option, but for example, I choose to work at our dining room table everyday rather than the desk in our guest bedroom because it just has way better light and a nice, fresh breeze which is great for mental health, but it does mean that I am working at a space that is also used for other things. It's a small change, but when I'm eating at my dining table, I do not eat in the same chair at the dining table that I work at because that helps me not feel like I should just drag over my laptop and do a little bit more work while I'm enjoying my meal. The more artificial separation you can create in your mind between home life and work life, the easier it will feel to have a quote unquote "normal day."

Number two is build a digital backup brain. One of the most difficult things about working from home is the extent to which it leaves you alone with your own internal monologue and makes it incredibly easy to get distracted. It's very hard to stay focused when you have basically limitless ways in which to let your mind wander, and you're also much more aware of all of the personal stuff, like appointments, errands you need to run, family obligations, that you would otherwise push to the periphery of your mind if you were at a separate physical office space. To ensure that you're keeping yourself accountable and focused, you want to use the right digital tools to essentially act as a backup to your own brain. And one of the best tools for making sure we are staying on top of what needs to be done and have a visual roadmap for accomplishing all of it is is a flexible project management platform that allows us to create customized calendars, workflows, reminders, and visualizations for all of the various projects we have going on at any given time. Monday acts as a digital personal assistant, making sure that we are always reminded of what needs to be done and helping break overwhelming goals into more manageable mini tasks. Working from home, for many of us, can often translate into distraction and frustration, but tools like Monday help ensure that we are staying is focused on our work as we would be if we were heading into an office every day. If you can't wait to get started with, check out the link in our description.

Number three is treat yourself like an adult toddler. One thing to remember when working from home, especially in a time like this, is that it can be incredibly difficult to keep just a basic daily structure. And if you feel like you're having a hard time with it, it's nothing that is inherently wrong with you. When left to our own devices, we all tend to sort of slip into our worst habits and forget the routines that keep us happy and healthy. So there is zero shame in treating yourself like an adult toddler and keeping close track of all of the things that you're doing as well as giving yourself a little pat on the back for when you're doing things right. One of the best ways that I've personally found to do this is keep a little mini bullet journal that has all of my food as well as my various fitness activities throughout the day. I give myself little stars for when I do something like finish one of my tumblers of water-- eee! --when I go for a long walk, when I read a book, or when I do Pilates. At the end of every day, I tally up how many stars I get. And depending on how many stars I accumulate by the end of the week, I have various prizes that I can give myself. Because the truth is, it is incredibly difficult, while home by yourself all day, like I currently am, to feel like you even have a reason to really give yourself that structure. And it can also feel incredibly boring or tedious in the moment to be making all of the "good" choices. And of course, we are creatures who are motivated by seeing results. And for a lot of those "better choices" we're making, whether it's consistently drinking enough water or getting regular exercise, it will often take a long time for those results to really show up. So having a way that you can see your daily results, and feel great about them, and look back on them with pride is a great way to keep yourself motivated and give you a reason to follow that structure. If having these little motivators and having visual proof of when you're doing the right thing helps you keep on track, you should lean into that rather than feeling like you intrinsically "should" want to do these things. Quite frankly, I think I'm just going to keep doing this indefinitely, even after quarantine. Why not?

Number four is find accountability buddies. Once you've got a few habits that you're tracking and staying accountable to in your journal, it's helpful for some of the more "difficult to keep to" ones to find people who can help you stay motivated in this time. And having these accountability buddies isn't just about giving you increased reasons to have video chats lately, which is also very valid. This accountability is incredibly helpful for reaching your goals. The American Society of training and development did a study on accountability and found that you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you commit to someone. And if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person to whom you've committed, you will increase your chances of success by up to 95%. For me, for example, getting in a good workout more days of the week than not is very helpful. And so I have virtual Pilates groups with whom I meet several times a week and with whom we can all stay accountable to one another. But if just doing your work from home feels like one of those things that you want to be more accountable to, and less liable to get distracted, and surf the internet, and maybe get up and walk around, or get on the phone, or watch TV, or do any of the other number of things that are at your disposal when working from home, one fun option is to find a person, whether you actually work with them or not, to be on sort of a passive video chat with all throughout the workday so it's as if you are working in an office next to a colleague. Aside from having someone with whom you can pop in and chat every now and again, just knowing that someone could be watching you at any minute and you could be watching them increases both of your odds of staying more focused on the task and getting more done as well as battling that feeling of loneliness. Because for many of us, what we miss most about the office experience is just feeling like we have people that we're in it together with. Most importantly, never feel self-conscious about needing someone to reach out to for accountability. And I think, frankly, for most of us, we'd be surprised at how much the people around us actually want to offer help in that regard or might need some accountability of their own.

Number five, create tent poles for your daily structure. First, start by writing down a few bite-size activities or tasks that feel like a nice little respite or reward for your brain. Then, find places throughout your day and week to insert these various tasks and activities as rewards and things to look forward to so that you know that your time for just getting down to the work and focusing on it is both limited and punctuated by something enjoyable. You can sort of view this as an upgraded version of the Pomodoro method in which you are working for dedicated intervals punctuated by regular breaks, which has actually been demonstrated to improve productivity. The idea behind the technique is that the timer instills a sense of urgency. And rather than feeling like you have endless time in the workday to get things done and then ultimately squandering those precious work hours on distractions, you know that you only have 25 minutes to make as much progress on a task as possible. For many of us, the idea of chopping up our workday into such small intervals can be difficult with things like meetings, and calls, and getting into a more flow-like state with various projects. But if we can start to break up our days into even just slightly smaller chunks and then our weeks into chunks as well, we can start to make sure that the time that is dedicated for work doesn't feel like it's spilling over into every other moment. Something like giving yourself a lunch every day that you actually look forward to, a nice long bubble bath on Wednesday nights, a ritual phone call with friends, a special Friday morning breakfast, or maybe an afternoon walk around the block can all be great ways to tent-pole your day and week and make sure that the time you're working feels more like a time on which you can focus and then leave behind for something even more enjoyable.

Number six, track what works. It may sound tedious, but being careful to track what you are doing and the associated effects it has on things like your mood or how you feel in your body is incredibly important. And it's also a good way of getting in control of how you feel when working from home, which can often feel so out of your control. So for example, start by writing down how you feel when you wake up each morning-- how long it takes you to get out of bed, how many times you hit the snooze button, how ready you are to attack the first tasks of your day. And then, line it up with what you did the night before. How many hours of sleep did you get? What time did you go to bed? What did you eat right before bed? Does caffeine have an impact? Alcohol? Sugar? Does getting in a workout the day before lead to a better next day? Start to form patterns of what leads you to feel your best and get the most done and repeat the things that lead you there on a more regular basis. Now this does not always mean that you're going to make the quote unquote "best choice." Sometimes you're simply going to want to have a glass of wine and a slice of cake, even though you know that's not necessarily going to lead you to feel the best tomorrow morning. But it does allow you to stop conflating "short-term indulgence" with longer-term happiness, which can sometimes be mutually exclusive. Working from home can often, for us, be an excuse to slip into bad habits and indulge our most short-term impulses. So combat that by starting to take charge of your own emotions by understanding what really impacts them in a positive and negative way and trying to err more on the side of positive. And do remember whether you are working from home just temporarily or this is an ongoing thing for the indefinite future you are always going to want the best tools to make the most of your work.

And one of the ultimate tools for getting more done is So to learn more, check out at the link in our description. As always, guys, thank you for watching, and don't forget to hit the Subscribe button and to come back every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for new and awesome videos. Bye.