There are a lot of perks to working from home: freedom, flexible hours, and the time and money you save on the commute. But it also comes with challenges, like getting distracted and staying motivated, or on the other side of the spectrum, overworking yourself and burning out. The good news is that a little planning and structure go a long way.
Create a designated office space. Even if you don’t have a separate room for a home office, it’s important to create a space that tells your brain “this is a place for work.” If you have a guest room that rarely gets used, consider setting up your office there. Otherwise, find a corner where you’ll be happy to sit for hours at a time (natural light is a bonus) and where you can put up a portable screen for privacy if necessary. You’ll be sitting here a lot so consider investing in a nice, ergonomic office chair.
Establish daily office hours and stick to your schedule. You work from home, which means you can pick a work time when you’re naturally at your most productive. Of course, part of the allure of working from home is the flexibility, but you should still stick to a daily schedule and plan out the day’s activities, so you’re able to accomplish a full day of work. Likewise, set a hard stop for when work is over. When you’re finished for the day, truly leave work behind, so you have time to enjoy yourself.
Take plenty of breaks. If you were working in an office, you’d probably spend more time than you realize chatting with colleagues, grabbing a coffee or just standing up to stretch. A break can be restorative for your productivity and motivation, so remember to take time to go for a walk, read the paper, check social media or even just stare out the window for a while.
Set boundaries with the people who share your space. The flexibility that comes with working from home is one of the best perks, but the lines between your work life and your personal life can quickly become blurred. While you should take advantage of your flexibility when you need (or want) it’s also important that the people in your life understand that just because you’re working from home, it doesn’t mean you’re available at all times.
Plan daily and weekly tasks and goals. Create a list of goals at the beginning of the week and a daily to-do list each day that includes specific tasks that will help you achieve your weekly goals. Some people find that creating the next day’s to-do list at the end of the workday helps jumpstart their productivity in the morning.
Make sure you get outside. It can be easy to turn into a hermit when you’re working from home. But fresh air, exercise and human interaction are crucial to your productivity, and even more importantly, your happiness.
Avoid chores and personal projects — no matter how tempting. When you work from your home, it’s tempting to do laundry, vacuum, or pay bills in the middle of the workday because, well, you can. But doing even one load of laundry can be a distraction and eat up valuable work time, so remind yourself that even though chores are a productive thing to do, they’re not what you’re being paid for — you should do them in your personal time.
Do you work from home? How do you keep yourself on track? Let us know in the forum.