As more and more workers are staying home and working remotely, those who are used to a lively, social workplace might find the transition to be stressful, boring, or even unproductive.
The initial thrill of wearing pajama pants all day and not having to shave or put on makeup may wear off quickly when you realize that you’re spending more time checking your Instagram or Twitter feed than getting actual work done.
If this sounds familiar, never fear. Here are 15 tips for working from home that will help you be your most productive self (even with those pajama pants on).
15 Tips for Working from Home from Those Who Do it Every Day
1. Set a Routine
One common error people make when they begin working from home is they don’t set up a routine. Not only does having a routine keep you accountable and productive, it helps you from falling into a slump mentally, too. Wake up early enough and set a morning ritual, like having a coffee, showering, exercising, etc. Set yourself up for success by starting off the day strong.
2. Stick to a Schedule
Similarly to setting a routine, having a schedule to stick to will also help keep you on track. In an office, you have set hours as to when you start and finish work each day, so do the same at home. It’s easier to get sidetracked if you tell yourself you have time to finish working later, so don’t fall into that trap. Aim to start and finish working roughly around the same time each day, as if you were going to and leaving the office.
3. Plan your Breaks
Are you sensing a theme here? In an office, you often have scheduled breaks for a set amount of time. Do the same when you’re working from home. Having periodic breaks will help you refresh and recharge for the tasks at hand without letting you get distracted. By taking them at the same time each day, this also helps you form habits and set your routine.
4. Define Your Work Space
When you settle into your work routine, you’ll find how important it is to have a well-defined work space. Wherever in your home this space may be, it should be a place for work and only work. Have all your supplies or equipment here at the ready so that you’re not wandering around the house trying to find things. Don’t take your breaks or eat meals here, just as you would want to escape your desk at the office from time to time. Your home work area should be functional, organized, and separate from all the other activity going on at home, if possible.
5. Avoid Instrusions
To go along with that point, try to avoid intrusions or interruptions as much as possible. It you’re working from home with family members or roommates present, try to establish a schedule or set of rules that allow for you to work consistently until a set break time. Life happens and this isn’t always possible, but allowing yourself to work without a break in flow will help your overall productivity in the long run.
6. Enjoy Your Breaks
Breaks are just as necessary when working from home as they are in the office. They give you time to step away and shift gears so you can come back to your projects with new eyes. Set the clock for your breaks or lunch hour, and really use them to take some time to disconnect or do errands. Don’t feel like you have to rush through them to get back; you don’t have to travel far anyway!
7. Avoid Social Media
Social media can be a real time-waster when you’re procrastinating, so avoid it as much as you can during office hours. Log out of the apps on your phone so that you don’t feel as tempted to check up on what’s going on on Instagram and Facebook when you’re supposed to be working. To further beat temptation, you can download an app like Offtime, Moment, or Flipd that prevents you from logging into your social media apps during work time.
8. Get Out of the House
When you’re working from home, you miss out on the social aspect that an office or traditional workplace provides. Maybe once or twice a week, have lunch or a coffee out, or bring your laptop to a coffee shop or library for a few hours. It’s important to have a routine, but it’s just as important to have a change of scenery once in a while.
9. Prioritize Your Health
Health is wealth as they say, so it’s important to prioritize it when you’re working from home. Make sure you’re setting aside enough time to get out of the house and take a walk, get some fresh air, or move your body in some way. Our bodies need exercise so be sure to wiggle this into your routine when it suits you best. Also make it a priority to eat healthy meals and snacks throughout the day, as those who work from home tend to get in less physical activity than those who work outside it.
10. Invest in Quality Equipment
As your own boss, it’s on you to make sure that you have everything you need to get the job done. That said, make sure that you invest in good equipment that will last instead of cheaper things that you’ll have to replace sooner. Pro-tip: splurge on an ergonomic chair. Chances are you’ll be sitting a lot throughout the day, so make sure you’re comfortable.
11. Try Out Some Background Noise
Sometimes the quiet of working from home can feel a little lonely or unnerving. Try putting on some music or a soothing sound app that will give you some light background noise without being too distracting.
12. Socialize After Work
Working from home can be a bit isolating so it’s important to maintain some social interaction outside if working hours. It can be as simple as a FaceTime or Skype call with a family member or friend, or actually going out to meet up at the end of the day. Socializing is an important part of maintaining a good work/life balance, even more so when working from home.
13. Stay Organized
Staying organized is key here. Depending on your work, some tools that can help include:
All of these apps can help you stay on top of things, manage your time, and track your progress.
14. Stop at Quitting Time
This is important. Just as you probably wouldn’t stay in the office late every day, don’t do it when working from home, either. When your scheduled work day is over, it’s time to stop and turn off work mode.
15. Log Out
To help you transition out of work mode, log out of your work accounts, like email, social media, or Zoom. Once your work day is over, make it more difficult for people to contact you outside of office hours.
It’s All About Balance
The secret to working from home is finding balance, just like any job. Being able to juggle your work and personal life from home is no easy feat, but it’s definitely doable. If you have any other tips, be sure to leave a comment!