Technology has made it possible to ditch the dreaded morning commute and work from home. However, this can be both a blessing and a curse. Working from home has its perks – flexibility, fresh lunches from your kitchen, and the choice to wear sweats and watch a movie on the side when work is slow. But constantly being home can make you feel isolated and drain you of inspiration. Without routine you may feel yourself becoming idle. For some, working from home is the solution to balancing their life, allowing them to spend more time with family and removing stress-inducing commutes and annoying office politics. However, without setting boundaries, it can be easy for work to seep into your personal life to the point where lines become blurred. Here are some practical tips to help you maintain that balance and increase your productivity while working from home.
Create a Specific Workspace
You don’t want to be looking for your contracts in the couch cushions or misplace your stapler in the kids’ playroom. Create a dedicated workspace, separate from the rest of your home, to be your office. You don’t have to necessarily recreate a corporate-style office; working from home means you have a flexible working environment, so if you’re not a desk person and would rather work at the kitchen island, or on the couch, by all means do so, as long as you feel productive. Just make sure you store all your work documents in one specific place. Working from home can also mean working from your local café. Just have a space that’s enjoyable to be in and will encourage productivity.
Stick to a Routine
Humans are creatures of habit. To help productivity, try to set up a basic routine that signals that it’s time to work. For example, put on dedicated “work clothes.” Again, you don’t have to remove the perks of working at home by donning full business attire; a comfortable t-shirt and sweats are fine. Anything goes, really, as long as it’s not the clothes your slept in. The trick here is to find “work rituals” to put you in the right headspace to get work done. Maybe you have a designated pen you write with, or a specific “work mug.” These sorts of distinctions will help you set boundaries between work and your home life and make it easier to switch between the two.
Schedule Breaks and Keep Them
When you work from home it’s easy to slip into “work mode,” and vice versa. It’s important to schedule your lunch or even an afternoon tea or coffee break. You can still be flexible, but without a set schedule it can be surprisingly easy to forget to eat. Also, make sure you’re taking some days off in your week, whether it’s a traditional weekend or not. It’s important for you to find one or two days to unplug from work completely. You might intend to just sit down for a moment to check an email or two, and before you know it your entire day is gone.
Stay Connected – But Not Too Connected
If you work from home, it’s easy to feel isolated. Try to find ways to step out of the house and into social settings. Set up work days at the local coffee shop with others who also work from home. And remember, regardless of where you are, you’re still working; it can be frustrating when friends or family ask for favours, believing that you’re simply at home all day. Understand that it’s okay to say no or to tell them you’d be happy to do it when your day is done. You’re working, just like anyone in an office. Your office just happens to also be your home.
Landing a remote job may be a dream, but it takes more proactive effort than the typical office job to ensure you don’t become unproductive, isolated, or overworked. It’s important to take steps to keep yourself motivated and productive.
Helen Jacob | Staff Writer