By Krista Doyle

There are a lot of benefits to working from home — flexibility in hours, freedom to work from wherever you choose, and the ability to set your own pace when it comes to productivity. However, with all of that flexibility and freedom can come a struggle to maintain a healthy balance. With the often unclear boundaries of remote work, it can be really easy to push yourself to the point of burnout.

For those who work from home, self-care is an important practice not just for after work or the weekends, but during workdays as well. Luckily, there are some simple, actionable steps you can take toward having a healthy work-from-home life:

1. Create Your Own Routine

Okay, I know, duh. This is probably the most popular piece of advice for remote workers and can be found on every site about working from home. That doesn’t make it any less true. Having a regular routine can help you be more productive, set healthy boundaries around work hours and non-work hours, and avoid burnout.

So, what does it look like to create a routine? That’s the beauty of it; it can look like whatever works best for you! Some people crave a really disciplined schedule, so their dream routine may be to do the exact same things every day at exactly the same time every day. I like to give myself a loosely structured routine that still has room to change day-to-day, but that still gives shape to my day and my responsibilities.

Here are some tips for creating your own routine:

• Set an alarm: It might be tempting to sleep in, but establishing a solid sleeping routine can actually improve your concentration and productivity throughout the day. Choose a time and stick to it.

• Include time for exercise: Making time for exercise has been my personal work-from-home saving grace. Starting my days with a little bit of kayaking or hiking with my dog puts me in a way better mindset for taking on the rest of my day. Just getting some fresh air or breaking a sweat can make a huge difference in the course of your day (plus it gives you the chance to get out of your own head and interact with the world – even briefly).

• Ditch the PJs: Changing out of your “relaxing clothes” into something that reminds you it’s time to work is crucial for self-motivation. When I wear PJs, all I want to do is lay in bed binging Killing Eve. Whatever the reason, there is some mental disconnection between my pajamas and me having a good, productive day.

Do I don a Hillary power suit every day instead? No, most days you can find me in workout clothes or jeans and tee, but having something on other than bedtime/Netflix-time clothing helps me feel way more productive and motivated.

2. Find Your Communication Balance

The same beautiful internet connection that makes our work-from-home jobs possible can also be our undoing if we don’t establish some boundaries. Limit yourself to what’s important and only when it’s important (if it even is at all).

Do you need to be on Slack answering questions from Scott on the Dev team while you’re eating lunch? Probably not. Do you need to be tweeting memes from The Bachelorette while you’re on that video conference call? No, Luke P.’s demise can wait. Do you need to be scrolling through the #BossBabe hashtag on Instagram if all it’s doing is making you feel like you’re not doing Enough™️? Heck no!

Being mindful of what tools and apps are sucking up your time and attention can help keep your productivity priority.

3. Invest in Your Workspace

Creating a space in your home meant just for work is key to establishing boundaries between work and life. If you don’t have an actual separate office in your home, designate a workspace in your bedroom or living room and only use that space for working. And creating a workspace doesn’t have to be boring! While there are so many fun and cute ways to make that space your own, here are some important things to keep in mind:

Privacy: Make sure to pick a space that’s quiet and free from other distractions in your home

Practicality: While I know we all want our office supplies to be #DeskGoals-worthy, make sure that aesthetic isn’t the only thing you’re taking into account when picking out things like desks, desk chairs, and other important furniture and tools. Make sure you buy equipment and supplies that can actually help you do your job well and won’t throw your back out of whack in the process.

Keep It Clean: Studies have shown that clean surroundings help ease anxiety and increase clarity and productivity. While I know it’s easy to let papers and coffee mugs pile up to the high heavens, try to maintain a clean space for your productivity’s (and sanity’s) sake.

4. Let Yourself Enjoy the Flexibility of WFH

This one’s important. There’s a reason why people want flexibility in location and work hours so much; its awesome to work on your own terms! Sometimes I like to schedule my days so that I have the entire morning off. Other times, I’ll schedule my week so that I don’t have to work on Fridays. Sometimes I spend a few days working from my hometown so that I can see my family more often.

Working from home means you can shift and rearrange the moving pieces of where you work, how you work, and when you work to fully take advantage of your work flexibility and create your ideal lifestyle.

Krista Doyle is the owner of Content Is Queen Marketing, a full-service content marketing agency designed to help businesses of all sizes get the most out of their audience. When she’s not working, you can find her eating every taco in Austin, hanging out with her wife and puppy, or trying to channel Renata from Big Little Lies. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with what she’s working on.

Lede image by @theverygirl