While it may seem like every commuter’s dream, as they’re held up in traffic or stuck on the subway, working from home is actually a lot harder than it sounds. Actually knowing how to work from home successfully is a tricky skill. If you don’t set some ground rules for yourself and your home office, you could soon find yourself suffering from cabin fever, burn out, or lack of motivation.
Having personally been through all three of these conditions at different moments in time I can say that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, whether you offer writing, design, programming, or translation services, the following tips will help you boost your productivity and be successful working from home.
Find Your Space
If you’re lucky enough to live in a large house with an extra room for an office, then take full advantage of it as your designated work space. Having a separate area for your work station will not only help train your brain into “work mode” and make you more productive when you enter the room, but you’ll also be able to close the door when you finish and separate your work from your private life.
If having your own home office isn’t a possibility (yet), then be sure to select a suitable place to work from where the distractions will be as minimal as possible. Avoid working from the bedroom at all costs. It may be tempting to work in your PJs from your bed on a winter morning when it’s cold out, but working with a laptop balanced on your knees for eight hours is far from ideal and surprisingly uncomfortable. Not to mention the negative effect of mixing work with pleasure will have on your relationship; that’s not what bedrooms are for, if you get me.
Get a Life
I mean this in the nicest possible way, but make sure that you maintain a healthy social life outside of your home. When you eat, sleep and work from inside the same four walls, no matter how many people you speak to on Skype a day, if you don’t leave your house then you’re cutting yourself off from the outside world.
According to Psychology Today, in a tech-saturated world, non-sexual human touch is in danger of being eradicated altogether. However, humans need physical contact with other humans to help them thrive in their personal and professional lives.
So make sure that you join a yoga class, dine out in the evenings, go grocery shopping, or even just walk around the block once a day, in order to recharge your batteries and physically connect with the world outside.
Set Yourself Limits
Contrary to popular belief and according to Forbes, working from home is actually a lot more productive than working from an office. That’s great for business owners, managers and shareholders, but not always so great for the employee. Working from home can be addictive and, with the additional option of downloading your emails onto your smartphone, it’s inevitable that work starts to invade your private life.
I almost had a fight with my husband just the other night about my phone bleeping and lighting up and vibrating all through the night with messages from the Philippines team, until I realized that he was right. Your shift should be up when your hours are over. So set yourself limits and get away from all things tech when you’re done.
Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean that you should let your standards of professionalism slide. Remember that you’re still dealing with clients and providers who are working from offices, who don’t have babies crying or dogs barking in the background, or internet connections that flutter and splutter. Your setup may not be ideal for the time being, but you can maintain professionalism by planning ahead.
If you know you have an important meeting and a shaky internet connection, then make sure you have a backup. Go to a friend’s house, gas station, or a quiet café. If your kids are coming home from school at that time, then ask someone to watch them for a few moments.
Your office setup is probably entirely irrelevant to your work quality, but think about it; would you give your business to someone who sounds distracted and is constantly interrupting you to hush down the noise in the background?
Watch Your Personal Grooming
Everyone who works from home has done this at some point or another. But the truth is that when you start letting your standards slip in one area of your life, it has a knock-on effect to other areas, so start your day right.
Get up and have a shower, clean your teeth and get ready to face the day. OK, so you’re not going to put on a suit and tie to work from home, but make sure you that you dress decently. Not only will it come through in your work attitude, but you’ll also feel more like going out for a walk, or meeting a friend for coffee. And your partner will thank you as well.