Working from home is the dream, isn’t it? There’s no commute, there’s no real reason to get out of bed, and there are no annoying co-workers around to bother you and waste your precious time. But a lot of the time, working from home presents different challenges, like remaining motivated and getting in some actual human contact.
Read on for some tips to make the most of this amazing experience, while also doing the absolute best work you can.
Establish a work space
In an office, you have your cubicle or office and that’s it. Not so much at home, where the world is your oyster. If you want, you can work in bed with no pants, while watching TV on the couch, or outside on a patio. That’s one of the most wonderful perks of working from home, but it can also mess with your concentration.
Studies have shown that people act differently according to their environments, and more specifically, people are less likely to work hard where they’re used to relaxing. That’s why you should never work in bed, or on a couch. Your brain is wired to think this is where you sleep and chill out, not where you work. So you’re less likely to get stuff done.
In the house, carve out a space that will be your “office.” This can be a different room or even a corner of your bedroom, but it has to be work-specific. Set up a lamp and make sure your outlets are handy, and get to work. Your brain will catch on that this space is work space, and will amp up your concentration.
Have a schedule
One of the worst parts of WFH is that it’s easy to slack off without a whole office full of people noticing your every move. It’s also easy to put off assignment and tasks until later, because you can essentially work all day. But there’s also something called work-life balance, and it’s important even if your work is your home.
Set yourself definitive hours in which you’ll be consistently working, and even if you bleed over or end early (lucky), that structure will provide a better work environment. You’ll also be less likely to work at night, and you’ll be able to relax or even get out of the house for a little fun.
Talk to people
One of the downsides of working from home is the lack of office culture and work buddies. It can be a very isolating experience, to the point where loneliness and lack of social contact can affect your work and your happiness.
To combat this, text or Skype friends through the day, or even Snapchat them to infuse your day with some interest. It can be a distraction, sure, but when you do it right, having a buddy you can chat to really can make a world of difference.
Invite other WFH’ers over
If you work from home, chances are you network with other people in your industry who do, also. If you’re lucky enough to live in a city where a lot of you are around, why not make your own little office at home? Encourage other WFH’ers to come over if they’d like, even if it’s once a week. Create your own little office culture, network with other people, and make new friends. Having a support system makes you more optimistic and productive, and it’ll solve that whole ‘isolation’ problem, too!
Change it up
As tempting as it is to work in pajamas every day, it’s also best to get out every once in a while. On Mondays you can be a total hermit, don’t worry, but maybe on Tuesdays wake up earlier and get ready for working from a coffee shop or a restaurant. Have a different location for a couple days a week so you can take full advantage of the mobility factor your job provides. Why not try a new place, new food, great coffee, and still work just as well?
Provide breaks for yourself
A lunch break from home is still a lunch break. Sure, it can’t be that long, so discipline yourself, but you should absolutely carve out time for lunch and for coffee/tea time so you don’t go stir crazy strapped to your desk, looking longingly at your bed. Also, schedule these breaks for after you get significant work done, as a sort of reward for accomplishing your goals for the day. Don’t take 10 minutes for coffee unless you’ve earned it.
Take advantage of the experience
In an office, you can’t blast your own music and sing along to the words. You can’t sit at your desk in sweatpants with no socks on, or cook a meal from scratch. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you’re lazy, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking advantage of your opportunity to work in dirty pajamas. If the global, mobile work movement continues, your work experience just may become the norm.