Working from home is the dream for many and the reality for some. Whether you’re employed full time, run a business, or you’ve taken on a side gig, the tips in this feature apply. That goes especially for anyone that struggles to separate their work life from their home life as we fully appreciate that it is not easy. With work-life balance being such a hot topic, you want to reduce any chance of crossover and that also comes with its own challenges. Fortunately, we have every faith in the following 10 tips, which will turn anyone who works from home under any circumstances into an expert.
1. Always Focus on Productivity
Productivity is the keyword for anyone working from home, and even if you require constant reminders, it is essential never to lose sight of this fact. If your output suffers from being at home, it might be time to find somewhere else to work. If you do less at home than you do in the office, your boss won’t be happy and is well within their rights to request that you spend more time on-site – and nobody wants that. If you work for yourself, you could be handicapping your own business and missing your potential because you don’t do everything you can in the hours you have available.
2. Stick as closely as You Can to Regular Work Hours
Some people focus on working from home for the wrong reasons. While it can be much more comfortable, those that aim for remote work sometimes feel like you can cut your hours. You can in theory but, as outlined in the first tip, it’s rarely a good idea. Consistency is critical if you don’t want your output to suffer.
You don’t need to work 9-5 every weekday by any means, but you should think about good reasons to be at your desk at certain times. This could be because you need to be available during set times, or you may prefer morning work to evening tasks. Anything works on a case by case basis, but the important part is to find where success lies and stick to it.
3. Time Off Works Both Ways
There’s nothing wrong with two-hour lunch breaks if the work gets done, and you shouldn’t be afraid to make the most of your newfound flexibility. However, this works in both directions and if you regularly find yourself sitting in your office long after your planned finish time, it’s time to make a change. You have the freedom to do so, but you might experience burnout. You’ll feel terrible and all the steps you took to get ahead will get wiped out in a hurry.
4. Spend Time on Work Plans
Some people benefit from telling them what to do. Employers tend to love self-starters and say as much in job descriptions. However, there are people out there that will grind to a halt without regular guidance. Whether you have a boss or you are the boss, you don’t have that luxury at home. With a plan in place for each day, you know what to expect of yourself, and you never waste time wondering what to do next.
5. You’re Not A Machine
It’s easy to feel like you have so much to do and so little time, but you must resist the temptation to spend hours on end in the same position and on the same task. The plans outlined above should include break times as standard, and you need to remember to stick to them. The middle of the day is not the time to relax and unwind, but you’ll feel the benefit of a healthy snack, some exercise or even a quick nap by the time you return to your desk.
6. Don’t Get Too Casual
A typical mental image among those that crave remote work but haven’t yet achieved it is someone sitting at their laptop and typing an email in their dressing gown. It’s not unheard of and works for some, but such cases are relatively rare. If you’ve worked in a professional environment previously and had to dress accordingly, dressing the same way will subconsciously switch you on for the working day and remind you of your goals for the next few hours.
7. Create Office Space
Not all work from home jobs involve office work, but the vast majority do and you need the space to get things done. Ideally, you can devote an entire room to an office. However, anywhere with something resembling a table and a closable door fits the bill in a pinch. This helps with focus and also ensures you can keep distractions to a minimum. Over time, you’ll achieve the same results as in tip 6, as your brain adjusts to learning that when you’re in a particular space, it’s time for work.
8. You’re in Charge of the Boring Bits Too
At the office, the clock hits 5 and it’s time to go home. Someone else will take care of locking up and cleaning up. Unless you can afford a cleaner, you’re in charge of keeping everywhere tidy. Most people find an untidy office challenging to work in so ensure you stay on top of things. When working remotely, you can at least include clean-up time in your billed hours!
9. Stay Connected
Remote working can be a lonely place, so force yourself to interact with people each day. If you’re an employee, stay on the corporate network, respond to emails and get involved with the more enjoyable activities of your colleagues, even from a distance. If you work for yourself, schedule time to check the news, have a chat with an employee about something other than work or pack up early and spend some time with the family if you feel yourself losing your grip on reality.
10. Make the Most of Your Freedom
Your home office shouldn’t feel like a prison. Quite the opposite in fact – you have more freedom here than anywhere else, so put that freedom to work. You can play whatever music you like, watch anything on TV in the background and position things wherever suits you. Make the space your own, especially if it can boost your productivity.