Working from home sounds like a dream, right? Roll out of bed whenever you want, don’t change out of your pajamas, set up a cozy workspace on your couch with a blanket and some tea, and crank out a day’s work. Sounds easy enough.
Well, this might work for some people, but for others, including myself, this sounds like a major setback. If I’m wearing pajamas and I’m snuggled up in bed or on the couch, there is no chance that I’m concentrating on being productive and getting work done. More likely is that I’m taking Buzzfeed quizzes, getting lost in an episode of Impractical Jokers, or Facetiming with various friends.
Clearly, for people like me, working from home can be a struggle sometimes because unless the environment is just right, we simply can’t get anything done. So, as I’ve discovered from two months of working from home over this last holiday season, working from home is different for everyone, but here are some tips and tricks to increase your productivity when your home becomes your office:
Maintain a morning routine.
What do you normally do when you wake up in the morning before your commute to work? Most of us wake up, shower, brush our teeth, eat breakfast, etc. Even if you’re working from home, maintain that routine. Of course you can wake up a little later because you won’t actually have to do the commute, but do everything you can in the morning to put yourself in a working mindset. That means shower, make your coffee, eat something, whatever you normally do. And you don’t have to put on the clothes that you would wear to the office, but at least change out of your pajamas. The only difference is that you won’t be driving to work after your routine––you’ll be parking yourself at a desk in your own home.
Designate a desk or a table as your workspace.
Please, I beg you: do not use your bed or your couch or even a cozy chair as your workspace. You will get too comfortable, and you will not be able to resist the temptation to take a nap. I say this from personal experience. Sit at a table or a desk, with a chair that’s comfortable enough that you’re not in pain, preferably with armrests so you can rest your elbows while you type on your laptop. Sit somewhere you can actually concentrate with the smallest amount of distractions possible. Another benefit of this is that you’ll be able to turn your brain off of work when you actually do settle into those other comfy spaces for some relaxation time without feeling guilty for not working.
Communicate with your boss or supervisor at least once a day.
Even if it’s in a very small way or just to say hi. It helps keep you accountable for sitting down and getting things done. Plus, if you say hi to your boss, they will most likely ask for an update on your progress, which will help motivate you to stay on schedule with your tasks. Staying updated on what’s happening at the office while you’re not there is also a way to make sure you’re aware of any issues that might speed up or delay your own progress, so do your best to stay in the loop as much as possible.
Get out of your home to a coffee shop.
If you’re like me, you might go stir crazy sitting inside your own home for hours on end. Even if you’ve set up a nice workspace at home, as suggested in number two, you might need a change of scenery throughout the day. Don’t be afraid to gather up your stuff and set up shop at a coffee house for a few hours. It’s a cozy, quiet space where you can treat yourself to the occasional pastry and hot drink when you complete a task. Coffee shops are where I get some of my best work done, so I highly recommend this one!
Don’t let people visit you.
It might be super tempting to let a friend bring lunch or have a family member stop by for a bit just to “drop something off since you’re home anyway,” but don’t let it happen during working hours. Odds are you’ll end up chatting with this person for longer than intended. Before you know it, you’re behind on your work, you’ve missed three calls because your phone has been on silent and you’re having trouble getting back in the zone after your fun little break. Again, speaking from personal experience. It’ll be easier to just skip the visit or postpone it until after working hours.
Have clear working hours.
Whatever hours you’re required to work while you’re physically in the office, make sure you work those same ones while you’re at home, too. It’s just an easier way to stick with the routine and make sure you get everything done. Then, when the end of the day rolls around, you won’t feel guilty for shutting down your workspace and relaxing for a bit, and then you’ll have time for all the visits you postponed in number five!
On the opposite end as well, it’s easier to work longer hours when you’re at home if you’re feeling particularly behind or particularly in the zone––this is okay sometimes, but make sure you’re not overworking yourself! If you’ve had a productive day there’s nothing wrong with shutting down at the same time as your other coworkers who were in the office all day.
Different things work for different people so try out some of these tips and see what works for you. Do you have any other tips and tricks for working from home?