While many workers dream of leaving their office behind and start working from home, the reality of working from home can hit like a cold bucket of water. Whether you’re working from home for the first time or you’re accustomed to doing your job remotely, you’ve probably discovered by now that working from your couch or even a home office full-time brings some real challenges when it comes to work/life balance. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to maximize your productivity without losing your mind.
7 Tips for Working from Home
Prepare for the Day
Whatever your morning routine was before you shifted to working remotely, stick with it. While the idea of working in your pajamas may sound appealing, your morning routine – getting dressed, eating breakfast and whatever else you do to get ready for your day – sends a message to your brain that it’s time to get to work.
Designate an Area
In a perfect world, everyone who works remotely would have a dedicated office and equipment that is only used for work. However, for the majority of people, this isn’t practical. Even so, it’s important to have a dedicated office space, even if it’s just a chair (not the one you sit in while eating) at your dining room table.
Don’t Forget to Move Around
Currently in most states, its recommended that everyone practice social distancing. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stay camped out on your couch indefinitely. To the extent that it’s permitted and safe to do so, get outside. Weed your garden, go on a walk through your neighborhood or take a trip to your favorite park to hike a trail. Your body needs the movement and natural sunlight, and the fresh air promotes sharper thinking and creativity.
Participate in Meetings
For many, video conferences and conference calls have replaced in-person meetings. During these meetings, avoid the temptation to zone out by being sure to participate. As much as is appropriate, share your video and audio and actively contribute verbally to the meeting.
In an office environment where a large number of interactions are face-to-face, a significant portion of communication is nonverbal. Facial expressions, tone of voice, body language and eye contact carry just as much weight as the words that are used, and misunderstandings can be addressed quickly.
Written communication is a different animal entirely. A brief, succinct email can seem rude and dismissive to the recipient, who has no facial expressions or body language to pair it. Learn to craft positive, upbeat messages to colleagues by embracing exclamation points and emojis.
Keep Regular Hours
Just because you can work 15-hour days from your couch doesn’t mean that you should. It may seem counter-intuitive, but by establishing set work hours, you can maximize your productivity by minimizing the temptation to procrastinate. While those working in customer service may already have set hours, making it easy to know when to call it a day, others have jobs that are task-oriented; until that task is accomplished, the work isn’t done.
Have an End-of-Day Routine
Just as it’s important to have a morning routine to signal to your brain that it’s time to work, it’s important to have an end-of-day routine to let your brain know that work hours are over. Your routine may be as simple as closing your laptop and signing off your employer’s messaging app or taking your dog for a walk and listening to a favorite podcast.
Working from home doesn’t automatically translate into a healthier work/life balance, but taking the time to find out what works for you can ensure that you have a good experience working remotely.