Who doesn’t want to work from home? With no boss breathing down your neck and the option to take extra-long lunch breaks, most of us have thought about how much freedom we’d get if we stayed in more. On a more practical note, staying in allows you to take care of children, see more of your family and to work with any medical conditions you may have that stop you getting to work so easily.
But working from home has its downsides, and many who try it don’t manage to stick with it. Not everyone thrives when given total freedom over their day, after all, and it can be hard not to feel isolated when you’re not around others all day. Working from home, also known as telecommuting, can definitely be a positive thing, but you’ll need to make sure your working methods let you get the most out of the opportunity!
Set up your workspace
Getting your workplace in order is vital to staying productive and not getting distracted. While being able to work from your bed sounds like a major advantage to not leaving the house, you’re unlikely to be in the right frame of mind to get things done there.
Ideally you’ll set up a desk away from your bedroom or living room, that’s free from distractions like a view of the street or the TV. If your home is too small to set aside a room just for work, at least try to set up somewhere with a desk where you can sit up straight rather than lie down – and get dressed each morning before setting to work. You’ll be in a more professional mindset when keeping normal hours in the right attire.
Get out of the house
When you work from home, it’s all too easy to end up just sitting around all day. A lack of exercise or people to talk to can really affect your wellbeing, so you have to make sure you don’t neglect your social life and that you do get out during the day whenever you can.
Remember no-one’s forcing you to stay indoors, and if you’d be more productive in a café or library, by all means lug your laptop there instead. And why not have lunch out rather than just making a sandwich at home?
Isolation and loneliness are actually pretty common among telecommuters. Even office workers who don’t much like their colleagues benefit from being sociable when they have these people to talk to all day. If you do have co-workers, catch up with them over the phone or Skype rather than relying only on email, and try to make it into the office one or two days a week if you can.
Be your own boss
It’s true that when you shift to working from home, you’re no longer being monitored all the time. That means however that it’s far too easy to spend your days clicking around Facebook or YouTube without anyone peering at your screen. Unfortunately, sooner or later your work is sure to suffer and your boss will quite rightly get on your case about your lack of self-discipline.
Whether you do have a manager or whether you’re self-employed, it’s vital to keep your focus, even when surrounded by video games and countless opportunities to take a long pub lunch. You have to take control of your day and set yourself clear goals, with rewards and penalties if necessary. This might sound a bit much but there are all kinds of easy techniques you can use to structure your own time. Read about the Pomodoro technique, or simply treat yourself with a snack once you’ve completed a certain number of tasks.
Learning to focus and organise yourself can be tricky for some to pick up, whereas others settle into it instantly…either way, don’t coast along treating your time at home as time off work.
Hopefully we’ve not scared you off. For the right kind of person, it could be a fantastic way to get more done and be freer than ever. Have you or do you work from home? Share your own experiences in the comments.