For someone who’s a victim of bumper-to-bumper traffic and relegated to the gopher-like world of cubicle life — picture the heads popping up and down — the term “working from home” can be as glorious as hearing “you’ve won the lottery!”
However, those of us fortunate to be able to work from our warm and cozy abodes know it’s not all about eating cookies and watching TV Land all day. It takes work — literally, emotionally and physically — to maintain a successful balance between working from home and just living there.
Here are six ideas you can leverage to achieve a successful balance while working from home.
Just because you don’t have rush hour traffic, crowded elevators and cranky office mates to deal with, you still have work to do (probably beginning at or near your previous start time). Mental prowess and energy are required.
No late nights with this new lifestyle! Go. To. Bed. Ample sleep will keep you refreshed and ready to tackle your projects.
Set Up a Routine
If your job allows it, determine what would be your best schedule. Working before the sun rises and the home front is quiet and peaceful? The window after you sent the kids to school but before they arrive home? Or are you a night owl? Set up a routine that fits your lifestyle and productivity.
Setting up a routine also means knowing when to walk away. Working from home can often mean you are always “on.” With every walk past the glowing PC screen, you feel you simply must look to see if any new emails have arrived. This not only gets exhausting, but family and friends will not be happy.
Make sure your new routine includes time to work, time for yourself, and time with family and friends.
Block Out Distractions
Distractions at home are the equivalent of the chatty office coworker. And while you’d love to kick that coworker to the curb, you can also do this with home distractions.
Whatever your poison — television, mobile phone, or Sudoku puzzle — keep it out of view. Set clear expectations with family and friends as well so they know when to respect your work time. Download our do not disturb signs to transform any room into an impromptu and productive home office!
As they say, for every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned. Recognize what you must do for the day, week or longer and set priorities and make lists. Kick it old school with pen to paper, or plan your schedule with whatever technology or app you prefer.
Additionally, being organized both physically and digitally will prove helpful if you need to put your hand on a document. Ensure everything has its place filed away on your computer or on your desk.
Take a Break
Here’s a concept you’ll love: take breaks! Just because your commute to work was 30 seconds and you’re still in your pajamas, you still get tired when working. Waning focus and dropping energy levels can lead to mistakes.
To help avoid that 3 o’clock feeling, step away from your screen regularly and do what works for you: take a quick walk, sip a cup of tea. or just sit with your pet. Brief 10 minute breaks every forty five minutes to an hour will leave you much more productive.
Create a Designated Workspace
If using a laptop, it’s very easy for your workspace to be portable. While it’s great to do work from the couch or bed, it may not be the most productive place. Designate a space in your home that is for work; period.
Creating such an environment can help with organization, minimize distractions and keep you in the work zone. Sound familiar? And let’s not forget comfort and aesthetics. Make sure your desk and chair provide proper ergonomic support.
Create an environment that’s attractive to you! After all, you could spend a good part of your day there.
Hopefully some of these ideas will help working from home feel more like a labor of love versus feeling like labor!