Working from home is widely considered to be a relatively sweet employment situation. You get to ditch the downsides of office life, never sit in traffic, and enjoy greater control over your work environment, leading – at least in theory – to more productive, happier days. But – you knew there was a “but” coming – working at home isn’t without its challenges. When you’re working in essentially the same space as where you do all of your other life activities, it can often be tempting to get off task and divert to something else. To help deflect these hang-ups and make the most out of your “homeployment” situation, consider these tips:
Always Get Dressed
People often tout the ability to stay in one’s pajamas all day when listing the perks of working at home. While it’s fun to do that sometimes (especially if you’re sick and should get an award for doing any work at all), getting dressed most days is a truly beneficial thing to do. People who outside the house tend to have more of a morning ritual as dictated by having to be somewhere else, in presentable shape, at a certain time. They wake up, shower, brush their teeth, maybe eat, get dressed, and travel to work. All of these activities, over time, form a ritualistic memory in their brains – going through their morning routine takes their brain from a place of sleep to a place where it’s awake, alert, and ready to work. Structuring your mornings the same way will not only make you feel less sloppy (which always equals more effectual), but will start telling your brain that it’s go-time.
Before your day gets going, plan out exactly what you need to accomplish, and schedule in short breaks after achieving certain goals throughout the day. And take those breaks. Apps like TimeOut for Mac and Smart Break for Windows can run a simple timer to help you stay on track.
Speaking of breaks…lunch
When you work at home, it can be easy to not ever leave your house. Like, for days at a time. Obviously, this doesn’t happen all the time (we hope), but if you’re especially slammed with a heavy deadline or big project, you can absolutely look up and realize you haven’t tasted fresh air in 3 days. It’s a good idea to let your lunch break be a time to ensure this isn’t happening. Even if you don’t want to eat out everyday, make yourself a sandwich and go for a walk around the block. However you do it, be sure to give yourself a full lunch break – your brain needs it! – and eating soup at your desk doesn’t count. Get fresh air. Stretch your legs. Your productivity in the afternoon will be noticeably improved.
Set boundaries with others
If you live in a house with other people, it’s possible they think that “working at home” means “free to hang out whenever”. Being asked to hold a baby “real quick”, or walk the dog, or just chat for a few minutes can all quickly add up to a wasted workday. Make sure the other people – and animals – in your domicile understand exactly how much privacy you need while working, and during what hours. Only you can decide what exact parameters work best for you, but whatever they are, make sure they are clearly communicated and respected.
Work away from home sometimes
A change of scenery can do wonders to stimulate your brain, so try to grab your laptop and work remotely from a coffee shop sometimes. Plus, easy access to expertly brewed coffee isn’t exactly going to work against you.
If you’re sick, be sick
Just because you might be able to bring your laptop to your sick bed and be near cough medicine all day doesn’t mean you should work anyway. If you’re sick, you’re likely to do a pretty mediocre job at whatever you attempt to do. Better to take a day off, recover, and play catch-up later in the week.
Limit online distractions
Make a hard rule and stick to it: keep social media sites and favorite non-work-related blogs turned off until break time. It takes some discipline, but when you don’t have a boss looking over your shoulder all day, it can be all too easy to get distracted by the many shiny things on the Internet.