When people hear that you have the opportunity to work from home, the first thing many of them think is “lucky” or “wow, that’s amazing.” The fact is…yes, you are lucky and yes, it is amazing.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. It takes a lot of work to have a successful home office or be a telecommuter, especially when you’re working for yourself.
Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned over the past 3 years working from home.
1. Act like you’re going into the office
If you must stay at home in your home office, I’ve found that changing clothes or getting dressed like you’re going to work can do wonders. Staying in your PJ’s, while not very glamourous, may seem like the dream…but I’ve found that it doesn’t allow you to fully get into a “work mode” for the day.
To take it a step further, I try to only spend a few hours of the day at home. If you can, try going to a wifi cafe or a coffee house. This way, you have to get dressed for the day, feel more responsible for work you do, and get a little bit of social interaction. (Unfortunately, for those who spend a lot of time on the phone, the background noise in these environments doesn’t bode well.)
2. Make a to do list
Start every week and every day with a to-do list. Don’t list everything and anything, though. Separate your list: create one section for “must do” items and another for “ideal” items.
It’s been shown that when we create to do lists with too many long-term goals, we tend to get subconsciously frustrated when we can’t complete the list. Instead, create more short-term goals that need to be completed in order to conquer a long-term goal.
3. Stay away from the fridge
It’s easy to over-indulge when you’re working from home. Don’t act like your fridge is an all-day buffet. Instead, eat like you normally would in the office. Would you eat a few snacks during the day and one big lunch normally? Great…do it!
4. Don’t forget to stay social
One of the initial hardships I had with working from home was a concurrent move and switching to working from home full time. Not only were the switch and move hard, but I felt the impact socially. So make a solid effort to be proactive.
Whenever you’re able to have in-person meetings, take them. If you’re able to work out of those wifi cafes we talked about, do it. If you can make a phone call instead of sending an email, make it happen.
5. Take breaks
Think of working out of an office: whether you take a break to walk down to the water fountain for a drink of water or a coworker stops by for a 5-minute chat, you take small breaks throughout the day.
Since you’re at home, it’s easy to take breaks. Maybe you start a load of laundry or take your dog for a walk. Perhaps you do some vacuuming or make a personal phone call. Depending on your work day flexibility, make sure you make it a point to stop and relax your mind for a moment.
6. Figure out what works for you
At the end of the day, the best lesson I’ve learned is we each need to figure out what works best for us when it comes to working from home. What works for me won’t necessarily be the best solution for you. So experiment and see what helps you to be productive, motivated, and happy when telecommuting!
What are your best tips and tricks for working from home?