Working from home sounds like a dream to most people. There's no boss looking over your shoulder, and no coworkers to constantly interrupt your train of thought. Some folks even love the idea of being able to simply crawl out of bed and "going to work" in their pyjamas. However, that dream can turn into a nightmare once you realise that you are now your own boss. Setting the schedules, calling all the shots, prioritising work, and getting each of the day's tasks done is now solely up to you. But working from home doesn't have to be daunting. Follow these four tips to make working from home work for you.
1. Have a dedicated, uncluttered workspace
One of the hardest parts about getting work done from home is that you're working in the same place where you eat, sleep, play, do household chores, and watch TV. It can be difficult to separate yourself from your typical home life and focus on work alone. This is why it helps to have a dedicated workspace which is free from all of the typical distractions that go along with being at home. Set aside a room or even just a corner of the house that can be your distraction-free workspace (this means no TV). Having this space dedicated solely to work can give you the same benefits of going to an office without ever having to leave your own home. Anytime you enter that space, your mind will associate being there with your work instead of everything else that goes on in your home.
2. Set a daily schedule
Not having a set schedule is another reason you may get caught up in the day to day distractions of being at home. One of the main perks of working from home, assuming you're not telecommuting to a job with specific hours, is that you can set your own schedule. It may take some trial and error on your part to find a schedule that fits for you. Maybe you find that you're more productive in the evenings as opposed to mornings or vice versa. The idea is to pick a time of the day where you can set aside a significant amount of time to focus on nothing but your work. Human beings are creatures of habit, so if you can regularly work at the same time each day, you can consistently set your mind to focus on getting your tasks for the day completed.
3. Take breaks
It is important to step away from whatever project you are focused on every once in a while. When working from home, it can be easy to keep pushing ahead on a project because there are no coworkers to politely distract you (yes, sometimes distractions can be a good thing). Working too long without a break can cause you to lose focus which will make your productivity suffer. A great way to schedule breaks is to use a timer. Set a timer for a specific amount of time (25 minutes is usually a good length of time), focus on nothing but work until the timer goes off, then set the timer for a 3-5 minute break, and step away from your work for those 3-5 minutes. It is much easier to stay focused when you know you only have 5 more minutes on that timer to finish a task instead of just working until your mind starts telling you that it needs a rest.
4. Track your results
Part of working from home, especially if you are self-employed, is making sure that you are actually doing good work and accomplishing all of your important tasks in a timely manner. At the end of each work day, it can help to make a checklist detailing what needs to be done the following day. Set your priorities for tomorrow and review your work from the current day. What did you do well? What could you do better tomorrow? How close are you to reaching your project milestones? It is helpful to do some self-reflection on a regular basis to make sure you are holding yourself accountable for the work that needs to be done.
With this information in mind, it's important to point out that this lifestyle isn't for everybody. Some people need the structure of an office environment and a boss to keep them honest and focused on their job. Even if you are one of the growing number of people who are taking control of their careers and eschewing the office for working from home, the experience can still be either a blessing or a curse depending on the type of person you are and the habits you maintain. Following these four tips will help you begin to make working from home the blessing you deserve.