Three years ago when I lost my 9 to 5 job, I was faced the challenge of adjusting from the routine of getting up, going into the office, and driving home each day to working from home. No set schedule. No routine. No humans sharing ideas. (I’m home with just my cats.) No one here to hold me accountable for my work, and I do find forcing myself to rise at a reasonable hour, and develop self-discipline.
Anyone that works from home will tell you that it has its benefits, yet also challenges.
Take frequent breaks.
Keep the “break” routines you would have working in an office like going to the bathroom, eating lunch, and refreshing your coffee is something you would do without even thinking about it working in an office, but you might forget to do it at home. Get up, stretch, take a walk, eat something, or hit the gym at lunch time. It makes for a more productive afternoon. Best part, these breaks help you refocus and make you more productive!
Set regular hours.
Sometimes those that work from home find that they work too much rather than too little. I do my best to set work hours and stick to them. Sometimes it means that after 5pm I disconnect. Other days, it means I may take the afternoon off, but sit and focus a few hours in the evening. You need the time to recharge and be productive as possible. No matter when you work, set hours and stick to it.
Know your ground rules.
My husband works third shift at his job, so he sleeps all day while I work. And we don’t have kids. For others, it’s important to set clear boundaries and ground rules for anyone that might be in your general space during office hours.
Designated work space.
Having a designated workspace helps you stay organized and focused. Surround yourself with things that inspire you, and make it a place you will want to go each day. Having a space free from the “chores” at home can also help (laundry, dishes). If you find that your home office is too distracting, since it does happen, take your laptop and head to the library or coffee shop for a few hours to refocus your attention and be productive.
Don’t stay in your pajamas.
There are days wear I can (and do) work in sweats from my dining room table, but there are other days where the comfort of my favorite yoga pants means I’d be more content laying on the sofa watching old episodes of “The Office”. My trick to working in yoga pants is I gauge the first hour of my work day by how productive I am, and if it wasn’t productive, I go upstairs and put on work clothes. Even if it’s jeans and a sweater. It makes the transition between home and office a bit easier, it resets my focus, and if you do happen to run out to the coffee shop or post office, you never know if that’s where you could meet a new client.
Technology can be your friend.
Use professional social media sites or network websites to develop relationships, publish content, and meet new people in and out of your field. Find websites that help keep you organized and on task; there are options available that will even block certain websites or track how much time you spend on time-sucker sites. Just don’t get side tracked into stalking high school friends on Facebook or shopping on Amazon.
Leave your house.
This one may sound a bit ridiculous, but something I have had to teach myself. There was a time when working from home and I realized I hadn’t left the house in 2 days. Now, I make it a part of my daily routine to at least leave the house once a day for something—going to the gym, running errands, or treating myself to Starbucks.
If you’re sick, take a sick day.
When you are ill, take a proper sick day just as if you worked in an office. Your body and your work, will thank you.