Working from home is, for many people, one of the best possible perks a job can offer. It allows you so much freedom and flexibility, such as the ability to set your own hours and work in whatever clothing makes you the most comfortable, that most people would love the opportunity to.
Thanks to the internet, it’s much easier for people to work from home than ever before, and doing so is rapidly becoming the preferred working arrangement in today’s labor market. This is just one of the many ways the internet is changing the dynamics of our workplaces.
However, while working from home can provide you tremendous benefits, there are some challenges you need to overcome in order to be successful as a home worker. For many, the biggest challenges are often learning self-discipline and remaining productive in such a relaxed environment.
In the end, the strategies you use to keep you on task and working towards your goals will depend on you, but here are five that you’ll likely find effective and that will help you develop good work habits while doing your job from home.
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⦁ Determine Priorities. Then Schedule
One of the best things about working from home is that it allows you the chance to dedicate time to other aspects of your life, whether that’s errand running, hobbies, kids, friends, etc. However, this freedom can at times be a double-edged sword, and if you’re not careful, work can easily become a second thought, leaving you with a feeling that you’re always working from behind.
This happens, though, because you are not setting your schedule based on your priorities. If you have some work things to do, you should not be allowing yourself to spend a few hours in the morning working on your painting or catching up on your favorite shows just because you’re “in the mood.”
Of course, the flexible nature of your job allows you to do this, but in the long run, you’re working against yourself.
The solution is to build your schedule around your priorities. This ensures you have the time and energy to get done what you really want to get done, and then if there’s time left over you can turn to other things.
There may be days where your priority is meeting up with a friend or giving yourself some R + R time, but don’t let a flexible work arrangement turn into a chaotic, haphazard schedule otherwise you’ll see your productivity, and likely your income, drop.
⦁ Designate a Work Space
When we think of working from home, one image that first comes to mind is of you working whole reclining on your couch, with your pajamas on, and the TV on in the background. And while this might sound nice, it’s likely not going to do much for you in terms of productivity. This is because your mind, both consciously and subconsciously, is associating the space you’re in with relaxation and not work.
You may find that you can overcome this at times and be productive in relaxing environments, but in general, doing this will not allow you to be at your productive best.
The best thing you can do is find a space in your home and designate it as your work area. Ideally, this area will be its own room, one that has a door you can close. But when this isn’t possible, do your best to create a space where you can fully concentrate on your work.
This will help you distinguish better between when you need to be productive and when you can relax, but it will also help signal to other people in the house when you shouldn’t be disturbed. If you’re sitting on the couch “working,” they may talk to you or distract you in other ways, but if you’re isolated in a designated work space, it’s easier to tell that you shouldn’t be bothered.
It’s also important you try to keep this space specifically for work. The more you mix it with other uses, the less powerful this distinction becomes, making it more difficult than it needs to be for you to be productive while working from home.
⦁ Keep Distractions Away
We live in a world that is chock full of distractions. Our phones beep constantly, there are multiple ways to reach us, and it’s all too easy to get sucked into the rabbit hole that is social media. And when you work from home, all of these distractions become that much more difficult to resist, largely because there is no one around to hold you accountable.
Of course, if you’re in an office, your boss and coworkers aren’t watching your every move, but you are definitely more aware of how much time you spend on your phone or doing tasks that aren’t directly related to your job. But when you’re on your own, it’s just you, and this means you need to take some extra steps to help keep yourself focused.
The best thing you can do is to block off chunks of time for you to work and leave your devices and other distractions somewhere else. You don’t need to respond to messages as soon as they’re received, and you’re going to be more productive if you can spend dedicated time working on a task. To help break things up, stop what you’re doing every hour or so, and use this time to check messages or “get distracted” but then go right back to what you’re doing.
You’ll also want to limit what you’ve got going on in the background. You might think it’s a good idea to have talk radio or Netflix on while you work, but these are just going to take away from your concentration. Light music can work, but keep the rest away so that you can focus fully on your work. Indulge in these other activities when everything is done and it’s truly time to relax.
⦁ Set Working Hours
When you first start working from home, you quickly fall in love with the flexibility the arrangement provides. In most cases, you can work 100 percent when you want to and don’t have to adhere to anyone else’s schedule.
This is incredibly liberating, but it can also become a big problem if you don’t learn to set boundaries. In some cases, having the ability to work whenever can quickly turn into feeling like you have to work all the time, and this completely robs you of all the freedom that comes from working from home.
The answer to this is to try, as best as you can, to set working hours. Block off windows of time for work, and then when these windows close, do your best to leave work alone. With some messaging apps you can even set “Do Not Disturb” times so that you won’t get notifications when you don’t want to be working.
Doing this will allow you to achieve better balance and to feel more like you’re taking full advantage of the freedom and flexibility that working from home provides.
⦁ Take Care of Yourself
Lastly, since you are the one who needs to furnish your home office, it can feel easier to try and make do with the furniture you already have, but as you will soon realize, ergonomics are important and if you don’t take care of your body, you will eventually reach a point where it’s difficult to work. Invest in a good office chair and a nice desk that allows you to work without putting unnecessary strain on your body.
Another thing to pay attention to is your diet and exercise. When working from home, you might not be moving around as much as you once did in your old job, so you may need to work to find time in your schedule to exercise and stay health.
And we can’t forget about food. At home, we have access to all the snacks and other sources of empty calories that can not only lead to weight gain but that will also limit brain function and make you less productive. Consider preparing meals in advance so that you have something to eat and don’t need to stop to eat, or even think about going to eat somewhere else so that you can get healthier options and also get yourself out of the house.
Obviously, doing these things won’t make you more productive on their own, but ignoring your personal health will certainly have an impact on your ability to do your job in the relaxed environment of your home.
⦁ Make the Most of Working From Home
Just like anything, there are ups and downs to working from home, one of which is that it can at times be difficult to remain productive while you’re in such a relaxed environment. However, if you treat this as a problem you can solve and implement some or all of the solutions discussed here, it’s much easier to take full advantage of all that working from home has to offer.