Working from home is now the norm for so many people. Whether you’re a freelancer or simply use your home as a quiet getaway from the office, you’ll know one unavoidable truth.
Working from home isn’t easy.
In fact, working from home can be really hard. From kitting out the perfect home office to avoiding distractions, it will test your productivity skills and discipline to the max.
Whether working from home is something you’ve only just started, or you’ve done it for a while but have hit a bit of a rut, here are some simple dos and don’ts that should help.
Do work in an organised space
If your home office space is a mess, your mind, and by extension your work, will also be a mess – it’s that simple.
Make sure your home office space is as tidy and organised as it should be by making use of smart storage solutions, and always put stuff away where it belongs when you’re done.
Do remove distractions
You’ll never rid your home office of all potential distractions, but you should work proactively to avoid them as much as possible.
This means keeping away from the TV and radio (more on that later), but also removing the ability to easily check your phone and social media accounts every ten seconds.
Do have a social life
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you have to wave goodbye to your social life. In fact, it should give you more time to get out there and enjoy yourself.
Schedule work time strictly and do the same with personal stuff.
Do create boundaries
This one leads on from the last point, but it’s really worth stressing.
The worst thing you can do while working from home is set up in a room where you spend a lot of your personal time.
Sometimes, it’s unavoidable, but if you can, try and pick a room or a spot which can be shut off at the end of your work day.
Do get out and work elsewhere
You’ll go mad working at home and nowhere else after a while, so make sure you get out and work somewhere else occasionally.
A coffee shop or the gym are classic examples, but make sure you give yourself a change of scenery occasionally. Perhaps you could team up with a fellow home-working friend, for example, and work in each other’s homes on occasion.
Don’t take your work into family space
This bears repeating, once again: make sure the space in which you work is entirely separate to your family space and time.
This includes avoiding the temptation to take your laptop to the sofa each night to ‘just get some last bits done’. Unless it’s crucially important, wait until tomorrow.
Don’t let your work day vanish
If you don’t set a structure around your day while working from home, the time will quickly evaporate.
Set those start and finish times for your working day, schedule in your break times, and stick to them as much as possible. Squeeze every last productive ounce out of the day.
Don’t be tempted by the TV – unless you deserve it
There’s nothing wrong with watching a bit of TV here and there, but it needs to be a reward for getting stuff done.
So, promise yourself you’ll only watch half an hour of your favourite box set after you’ve completed the next stage of that big project.
Don’t allow email to take over
Email is still a valid and very important form of communication, but it shouldn’t dominate every aspect of your working day.
When working from home you might find yourself receiving more emails from colleagues and customers. Rather than spending more time checking your inbox, you should do the opposite. Set specific times for dealing with email a couple of times a day, and don’t allow yourself to be pulled away from the task you are currently working on unless it is vital that you do so.
Don’t become disconnected
It’s easy to inadvertently disconnect yourself from society when working from home.
But, thanks to video conferencing and the ability to leave the house and visit people, you really don’t need to isolate yourself. Keep in regular contact with colleagues, customers, and the people you love.
Working productively from home doesn’t need to be a challenge if you implement a few basic ground rules and boundaries. In fact, many studies have shown that people who work from home are often more productive than those who work in offices.
So, find yourself a quiet, organised work space, switch your phone to silent, close your social media accounts, start and finish on time, and schedule in a few well-earned breaks, and you’ll be good to go!