Some of us have been working from home for years; others, for just a couple months (although it may seem like years). Whether you’re a web designer/web developer, a therapist, or something else, working from home can present some challenges.
Following are a few tips, from my experience, to help make your experience as smooth as possible:
1. Set boundaries
If you want to get in quality work time, you’ll need to make things clear to your family (whether they live with you or not) and friends. Here are some examples:
- If my office door is closed — or for those not fortunate enough to have their own at-home office, say, the headphones are on — that means I’m at work and not to be disturbed, unless it’s a true emergency.
- Just because I’m at home, that doesn’t mean I’m not really working, so no social calls or drop-ins during business hours.
- House work (laundry, etc.) can wait until the evening or weekend, just as if I were at an outside office.
You may have others to add to this list, depending on your circumstances. In any case, these boundaries need to be clearly set so as to avoid hurt feelings and resentment.
2. Create psychological separation of work and home
Again, if you have a designated, physical office, this is pretty easy. Keep the door closed when you’re done work for the day and don’t open it until the next work day. You need the mental break of not seeing your desk, files, etc.
If you don’t have a separate office and work on, say, the kitchen table, make sure to close your laptop and clear off all of your files, papers, writing utensils, etc. from that work area at the end of the day. Put it all in a closet where you won’t see it until the next day.
3. Get some exercise
I make a point of “walking to and from work” at the beginning and end of every day. Not only does this help me get my 10,000 steps (if you’re into that) but it helps me transition to/from work. Another method of psychological separation.
During the day, try to get in a few quick exercise breaks as well. If you’re waiting for a file to download or something to print, do a few jumping jacks or stretches, whatever floats your boat.
I usually do this at the end of the day, but if you have the time and inclination, you might like to take a 15-minute meditation break sometime in the middle of the day. It can make you feel calm and rejuvenated for the rest of the day.
5. Take regular quick breaks
Most people can’t focus for more than an hour at a time. Rather than forcing yourself to continue working, taking even a minute off can help you recharge the batteries.
I discovered a great, free app for this exact purpose. Time Out allows you to choose the frequency and length of your break. Then a gentle reminder fades in, letting you know when it’s break time. You can snooze it for five or ten minutes and even skip the break altogether if it’s a bad time. However, most “bad times” are when you need the break the most! I find it best to just submit to taking the quick rest, without debate. I stand up, close my eyes, and focus on my breath (and not problem solve) for the full minute.
6. Give your eyes a rest
Most of us are glued to a monitor for the majority of the day. That can be really hard on your eyes and cause myopia (nearsightedness). If you can, situate your workspace near a window. Then make a point of glancing outside — even if just for a second or two — as often as possible, preferably, at least every 15 minutes. Doing so reduces strain on the ol’ eyeballs.
Working from home may be a permanent or temporary situation for you. In either case, you’ll want to optimize your physical and mental space. Following the above tips can help to boost your productivity.