Working from home isn’t as easy as it sounds – it can actually be very difficult for some accustomed to working in a loud, bustling office environment to shift gears. But if you create some new routines and stick to them, you’ll get used to the new normal in no time.
Here are some tips and tricks that will make working from home productive and enjoyable!
Set aside a specific area of your home for work and only work
Ideally it’s a separate room like a den or office, but it could just be a corner of a bedroom or kitchen table. Make this area your dedicated office space, where you are focused on work. Avoid household tasks from this space, just as you wouldn’t let chores interfere at your cubicle or office at work.
Pick a place where you can keep your cellphone and landline handy so you can stay connected without leaving your “office,” and let everyone in the house know that when you’re there, you’re at work.
Maintain regular hours
Oh sure, it’s easy to sleep a couple of extra hours or knock off a little early if things are quiet. Resist the temptation! Believe it or not, you will feel guilty for cutting corners and will feel compelled to do work beyond work hours, which is when working from home becomes a drag. Stick to a regular schedule as much as possible.
Stay in contact
Whether it’s with an app like Zoom, Skype or Facetime, or more traditional methods like text, messenger or email, it’s important to stay in touch with your coworkers throughout the day. It’s important for three reasons: 1) to stay on track with what’s required of you, 2) to avoid feeling isolated and outside of the loop, and 3) to show that you are actually working. Has anyone heard from Bob lately? That slacker!
Get a radio
Or Spotify, or an iPod, or whatever your music of choice is. Music helps keep things light, adds ambient noise and lets you to take a ‘rock out’ break when a great song comes on. Listening to the radio helps you to stay connected to the outside world and news of the day. Ideally, avoid using headphones because they can actually increase the sense of isolation.
Get a bigger monitor
Working on a laptop isn’t easy, because the screen is so small. You end up spending all your time flipping between windows, squinting at emails and getting a thumb callous from trying to trackpad everything. You can get a good-sized monitor from Amazon for as little as $200, a generic keyboard and mouse for $25. They can hook right into your laptop, and will make your life 200 times better. If you already have a big monitor, consider getting a second one.
Believe it or not, you may find yourself in such a groove that you forget to give your eyes and body a break once in a while. You need to take breaks! Set an alarm if you have to – just give your eyes a chance to look beyond that monitor and stretch your back and legs. When you take lunch, leave your “office” and catch up on what’s happening in the world so you don’t feel so isolated.
When your shift is over, it’s OVAH!
Keep the same habits you did when you worked at the office – check email/text on your phone occasionally during the evening, take an after-hours call if you have to, but don’t get sucked into thinking working from home is a 24/7 commitment. When you leave your “office” there’s no going back until the next morning. Stick to that rule.
Bonus tip: Get comfortable furniture
Of course you don’t want to spend a lot of money if working from home is just a temporary situation, but if you aren’t comfortable where you’re working, you will either destroy your body or not work as hard as you should. So figure out how to get as ergonomic as possible given your available space. It’s worth it in the short-term, and given that home offices continue to be a growing trend, it could prove a good long-term investment, too.
Just like you have a schedule, a list of tasks and different ways to communicate at the office, all of those habits should be incorporated into your home office, too. And adding some perks like a bigger monitor, great tunes and a comfy chair can actually make the experience more enjoyable than suffering through bumper-to-bumper traffic while schlepping to the office every day.
Enjoy the opportunity!