My home is three things: my sanctuary, my office, and my yoga studio.
Yes, I work from home. But before you go into the standard response I always hear (You’re SO lucky), please know this: Working from home requires serious discipline—discipline that I didn’t always have.
True, I don’t have to punch a time card, sit in rush hour traffic, or even put on pants if I don’t want to, but I do have to show up and motivate myself every. single. day. And truth be told, that can be a hard thing to do.
I’ve always been a yogi, but when I started working from home this year I found my dedication to my practice slipping. I wasn’t heading to my mat regularly, my days were without structure, and while I didn’t immediately realize it, the loss of my practice was affecting me both emotionally and creatively.
So, I decided to create a yoga challenge for myself to get on my mat every morning Monday through Friday before heading to my desk. I did this for a full 30 days, and the takeaway was more than I could have imagined. Though the lessons I’d learned in those 30 days far surpassed just four, these are a few of the most important things I’d come to realize throughout my month-long challenge.
1. Stick to a Schedule
I wake up at the same time every day, so I was already off to a good start.
But, before I dedicated myself to this challenge, I’d dilly dally for half the morning before finally making my way to my office to start working. Subbing that useless time—more often than not staring at my phone—with yoga practice was a game changer. What I had been lacking (and hadn’t realized I’d missed until this challenge) was routine and structure.
During these 30 days I woke up at the same time every day, headed to my mat for practice followed by breakfast and a cup of tea, and went to work. When the challenge was over, rather than heading back to my dilly dally days of experiencing Instagram-induced FOMO, I instead continued to stick to my new morning routine.
Some days I did deviate from my new schedule, and I found on those days that I’d procrastinate more and lacked a general feeling of focus and inspiration. Starting each day off with a practice, a clear head, and zero screen time proved to make me more productive throughout the rest of the day.
2. Be Patient With the Process, and Yourself
To be honest, some days I just didn’t want to be on my mat. This challenge was, well, challenging—but that was the point, right?
I had taken a long hiatus from my practice, and the process of getting back to it left me sore, and frustrated. Poses that had once come easily to me now were a real stretch for me to get into, and I found myself reaching for props more than I had in a long time. I was proud of myself though—for recognizing my limits and not allowing them to make me quit.
Patience was never a strong virtue of mine, and this challenge was undoubtedly testing its limits. But, rather than roll my mat up and throw it into my closet I came back, day after day. Sometimes for just a 15-minute practice, and sometimes for an hour. By the end of the month my Crow Pose was no longer a near face-plant into the mat—proof that patience and perseverance prevail.
3. It’s OK to Take a Break
For some reason, as soon as I sat down with my computer to work, I wouldn’t get up from it—all day. I no longer took the one-hour lunch breaks I used to get, and I no longer had coworkers around for chats or brainstorm sessions. Some days really had me feeling a bit stir crazy, and staring at a screen for hours on end became torturous.
So, just as I would come back to my breath on the mat, or stay an extra five minutes in Savasana, I allowed myself to take breaks while working, too. Not only did I deserve them—I still work a full eight hour day—I needed them, too. So, I let go of the guilt of disconnecting. I turned off my phone and shut down my computer for an hour and took some much-needed time away.
Whether it was to sit down with a book for half an hour, play with my dog outside, or whip up a smoothie, getting away from work for a little bit was like hitting the refresh button on my brain. I was able to head back to my desk feeling rejuvenated, rather than dreading another two hours of work.
4. Modify Your Space for Motivation
Believe it or not, your surroundings matter. Doing yoga for the first week of my challenge in the basement wasn’t ideal, but moving up to the bright and sunny living room made it much more enjoyable.
Similarly, most mornings, before I had a home office I worked from either the kitchen table, or the couch. Aside from feeling achey from sinking into the couch cushions all day, I felt a serious lack of motivation. This is where I used to come to relax and unwind when I’d get home from an actual office; it wasn’t an environment that was conducive to good work, or good posture.
My home office was a long work in progress. I did the demo myself, which took even longer. When it was finally finished, I realized that much like how the dark basement affected my headspace for my practice, my lack-of-office environment had affected my headspace for my work.
I filled my new office with creativity and color. I added crystals to my desk, paintings and photos to my walls, and candles all throughout. These things made me happy. They made me feel inspired, ready to work, and they made my office a place I wanted to be.
Maggie Peikon is a New York native, writer, and sufferer of insatiable wanderlust. An avid endorphin seeker she has a constant need to be moving, seeking adventure in all she does. She is a lover of travel, daydreaming, fitness, thunderstorms, and her dog, Finley. Despite the fact that she has to take medication daily due to a thyroidectomy, Maggie still believes that laughter will always be the best medicine. Follow her musings on Instagram and Twitter.1