How to Work from Home Without Losing Your Mind (or Your Job)
Ahh, pj's all day, your own private kitchen and the perfect amount of AC. Working from home is basically living the dream, right? Plus, with all that time that you’re saving on your commute, you’ll finally be able to write your novel/re-organize your closet/get a six-pack. But the truth is that working remotely without going totally stir-crazy (or worse, getting fired) requires organization, discipline and a few clever tricks. Enter these eight working-from-home tips to help you succeed like a boss (while also impressing your boss).
Create a Dedicated Office Space
It’s tempting to stay in bed with your laptop all day, but trust us: You’ll be much more productive if you have a dedicated work area. Obviously a converted loft with sweeping views would be ideal, but even a kitchen counter will do the trick. (But definitely splurge on an ergonomic office chair. Your back and neck will thank you.)
Set Working Hours
Just because you’re cutting down on your commute time doesn’t mean you can sleep in until noon. Not-so-fun fact: You can actually get too much shut-eye, which is linked to a whole host of health problems (obviously getting an extra hour or two on the weekend doesn’t count). Keep your body clock in check by sticking to a normal workday schedule as much as possible.
By all means, swap your heels for something more comfortable. But step away from the sweatpants. You’re working, remember? Not Netflix and chilling. In fact, science tells us that putting on more formal attire increases confidence, and it can even boost abstract thinking (i.e., a "bigger picture" perspective that’s typical among leaders and executives). Guess that’s why they call it dressing for success.
Do Work, Not Chores
It starts with just a quick load of laundry…and before you know it, you’ve spent the whole day defrosting the freezer and color-coordinating your bookshelf. Do yourself a favor and save all and any non-work-related activities for the evening or weekend. Or hey, save it for the kids—research from the University of Mississippi shows that children who do chores grow into successful adults. The jury’s still out on the benefits of leaving all household tasks to your partner.
Step away from your computer screen for some fresh air every couple of hours, even if it’s just a quick trip to your local coffee shop. Skirting office politics is nice but don’t underestimate the importance of daily human interaction (and no, watching Ellen doesn’t count). For a helping hand, check out free apps like Stand Up!, which encourages you to stretch your legs more often, or Focus Keeper, which will schedule in mini brain breaks.
With no manager around to check in on your progress, setting some long- and short-term goals for yourself is key. Not only will this help you be more productive, but it’s also a great way to ensure that your career is moving in the right direction. (And that’s up, of course.) Start each day with a to-do list (try the Ivy Lee Method to maximize efficiency) and schedule a progress meeting with yourself once a month for long-term aims.
Beware the lure of the home fridge. There’s nothing wrong with pausing work to grab a bite, but if you wouldn’t devour half a pint of ice cream at the office, then don’t do it at home. Instead, keep a selection of healthy bites on standby for when you’re craving a snack.
Leave Work at the Office
One of the benefits of working from home is the flexibility, but try to keep business and pleasure as separate as possible. That means shutting down your computer and tidying up your workspace at the end of the day. It’s vital for your sanity, but also avoids any potential wine spills on important documents. Cheers, you work-from-home mogul, you.