Many of us are beginning to work from home and tackling the challenges presented by our new work environments. It’s not uncommon to experience frustration as you learn to navigate the difficulties of creating a workspace at home, but it can be done! The following tips can help you increase your productivity and avoid burn out:
Prepare for your workday as if you are going to the office. A lot of people who work from home complain that they feel like they are always at work. Combat this feeling by acting like you are working at the office even when you work at home. Shower and dress for work as you normally would, make a lunch like you would when you leave for work rather than just wandering into the kitchen when you get hungry, and plan what you’ll be doing in the office just as you would at the office.
Get your tech in order. For many of us, the hardest part of working from home is the use of modern communication technology like webcams and online meetings. Learn to use your technology and work out any issues before your first day “at work”.
Set and maintain your routine. Schedule your day so that you work during your most productive part of the day when you have the least distractions. Sticking to a schedule helps you to perform better and lets those you live with know when you should not be disturbed. It’s also important to start and stop work at a clearly defined time every day to avoid burnout.
Designate an area that is ONLY for work. Create an area in your apartment that is specifically for work. Whether you set up a workspace in a corner of your bedroom or a desk in the living room, devote an area intended only for work to help you stay organized and focused.
Schedule and take advantage of breaks. Rather than choosing between completely ignoring distractions or letting the dog, the laundry, or the kids interrupt your work, plan breaks in your day and use the full break time allotted. Plan a ten minute break at the end of each hour to play with the dog or fold laundry, and take a complete hour for lunch AWAY from your desk or computer.
Create the right atmosphere. Most of us don’t work in a silent room with no one else around. Working in your quiet apartment without coworkers can actually make it more difficult to focus and stay productive. Turn on the TV or play music to serve as background noise while you work.
Set rules for those you live with. Communicate your expectations and needs for work clearly. It can be helpful to set up a write board on your office door or on the refrigerator that states your work hours and what you expect during that time.
Make your workspace “off-limits” when you aren’t “at work”. Try to avoid habits like eating meals at your desk or checking emails just before bed. After you are done with work for the day, put a sheet over your desk or close the door to your office to help you separate “work” from “home” and allow you to enjoy home life without distraction.
Working from home can give you more time and improve your productivity if you know how to successfully set and maintain boundaries. Allow yourself the time to learn what works for you. You may be surprised by how much you can actually enjoy working where you live!