Many of us have begun to work from home and tackle the challenges presented by working where we live. It’s not uncommon to feel a little frustrated as you learn to navigate the difficulties of creating a workspace at home, but it can be done! The following tips will help you to increase your productivity and avoid burnout:
Designate an area that is ONLY for work. Devote an area in your apartment specifically to work. Working at the kitchen table is a recipe for disaster, inviting interruptions and forcing you to move your work materials for every meal. Whether you set up a workspace in a corner of your bedroom or a desk in the living room, dedicate a space intended only for work to help you stay organized and focused.
Prepare for work as if you are going to the office. A lot of people claim that working from home makes them feel like they are always at work. Combat this feeling by getting ready as if you will be at the office even though you work at home. Shower and dress for work, as usual, make a lunch like you would when you leave for work instead of simply wandering into the kitchen when you get hungry, and plan what you’ll be doing in the office just as you would at the office.
Understand your tech before getting started. For many of us, the hardest part of working from home is learning to use modern communication technology like webcams and online meetings. Learn what you need to know to use your technology effectively and work out any issues before your first day “at work”.
Set and maintain a daily routine. Schedule your day so that you can work during the most productive part of your day when you have the least distractions. Sticking to a schedule allows you to perform better and helps those you live with know when you should not be disturbed. It’s also important to start and stop work at the same time every day to avoid burnout.
Lay down some rules for those you live with. Make sure you communicate your expectations and needs for work clearly. Try setting up a write board on your office door or on the refrigerator that states your work hours and what you expect during that time.
Create some atmosphere. Most of us didn’t work in a silent office with no one else around before we began to work at home. Working in your quiet apartment without coworkers can make it difficult to focus and stay productive. Turn on the TV or play music to create background noise that will help you work.
Schedule and take advantage of breaks. Don’t completely ignore your dog or your children and don’t let laundry interrupt your work. Plan breaks in your day and use the full amount of time allotted for the break. Plan a ten-minute break at the end of each hour to play with the dog or fold laundry, and take a complete hour for lunch AWAY from your desk or computer.
Make your workspace “off-limits” outside of work hours. Avoid eating meals at your desk or checking emails just before bed. At the end of your workday, put a sheet over your desk or close the door to your office to help you separate “work” from “home” and allow you to engage in your personal life.
Working from home can give you more time and improve your productivity if you know how to successfully set and maintain boundaries. Allow yourself the time to learn what works for you. You may be surprised by how much you can actually enjoy working where you live!