Working from home can sound like the ultimate opportunity for work-life-balance but successfully working from home can be more challenging than you think. Not to mention, the balance you were hoping for can be more difficult than anticipated. With the constant distractions that can come from working at home, focus and discipline may be more important at home than it is in the office. Planning out your day, setting strict rules and removing distractions become key to building strong “at-home” work habits.
Tips for Successfully Working from Home
Follow these 10 tips for a successful and productive work-from-home experience.
1. Get Out of Your PJ’s
You may be tempted to stay in your pajamas. You may even justify your comfy attire by thinking it saves you time in the morning. Don’t be fooled, staying in your PJ’s can make it more difficult to get into work mode, not to mention it can deter you from using video to stay connected with your co-workers or clients. (See tip #9)
2. Define Your Workspace
Having a clearly defined work space can help get you in a work frame of mind, and can also save you time—allowing you to be more productive. Keep work materials close by and when possible, find a space that has natural light providing you with a comfortable working environment. Your home office doesn’t have to be an actual office but developing a space specifically for work can make working from home more pleasurable.
3. Remove Distractions
Numerous distractions that typically only take place when you work from home can derail your daily work goals. Try and keep the distractions to a minimum. Don’t answer personal calls or texts. Refrain from chatting with the mailman or FedEx delivery person and keep the TV remote off limits.
4. Set Strict Hours and Adhere to Them
Setting your work hours in advance, will not only help you adhere to a normal work day, but it will also deter your family and friends from interrupting you. One of the benefits of working from home is the flexibility it provides. Although you don’t have to work a standard nine to five schedule, you should set daily hours and try to adhere to them as best as possible. Want to end your day early? Then start earlier. Or if you’re more alert or your creative juices flow better late at night, set your hours accordingly. Setting your work hours in advance will allow you to get the most out of every day.
5. Plan Out Your Day
Just as important as scheduling the hours you work each day, planning out your day in advance will help you get more done. Start each morning by writing down what you hope to accomplish and set a timeline for each task. It’s been proven that setting 20-minute blocks of work time followed by short breaks allows you to be more productive. Find what works best for you and plan accordingly.
6. Schedule Your Lunch Break
The refrigerator and kitchen pantry can become big distractions when you work from home— not to mention they can wreak havoc on your waistline. At the office, we tend to have a set time for lunch but when you work at home, constant snacking can become a procrastination technique that halts your productivity. Schedule coffee, lunch or snack breaks and adhere to them.
7. Set Rules
Things that would seem wrong or out of the norm at the office may seem commonplace at home. Don’t let things like the TV, stereo, gaming station, magazines or books distract you. Just like at work, these things should be off limits. And just because you’re not in an office setting, don’t be tempted to make personal calls. Don’t use your scheduled work time to throw a load of clothes in the dryer, do the dishes or clean the bathroom. Keeping your personal home life and your work home life separate will make for a much more constructive day.
8. Train Your Pets
When I first started working from home, my dog thought it was his free ticket to constant playtime. It took a few days and the rearranging of his bed near my desk to make him realize that it was time for me to work and time for him to wait patiently for me to take a break. Just like I scheduled in my lunch break, scheduling in a few short play times—usually after a quick restroom break—keeps him satisfied and quietly laying by my side as I work.
9. Stay Connected with the Office
Use conference calls and video chat software to stay in touch with co-workers. I use Google hangouts, Skype, Facetime and Zoom but there are many more options available. Find what works best for you and stay connected.
10. Set Boundaries for Family and Friends
Working from home shouldn’t give an open invitation for friends and family to visit. Make it clear that although you are working from home, you need to adhere to a strict schedule. If you can, close your office door or take it one step further and put a do not disturb sign up during your work hours. Let family and friends know when your workday ends and let them know you’re happy for them to visit after work hours.
Working from home provides some great perks including flexibility you may not get when working in an office. But being productive at home can be a challenge. By following the 10 tips for successfully working from home, you will make the most of your work-from-home experience.