Working from home sounds glorious, but it's not for the faint of heart. It requires discipline, scheduling savvy, and the ability to get work done when there's no external motivation (read: boss standing over your shoulder).
Whether you're working for yourself or remotely employed for a company, there's a certain art to balancing life when you work from home.
I'd like to share with you 4 tips I've learned along the way that help keep my sanity in check and can help you do the same.
Go work somewhere other than your home office. Once a week or a couple of times a month, find a coffee shop, a co-work space, or somewhere you can hunker down for a few hours to get some work done.
You'd be surprised at how a small change in scenery can spark creativity or put you in a different state of mind.
In addition to the creativity boost, there's another benefit to getting out of the house: a minimalist work space helps limit distractions and narrow your focus.
Your home office setup might include an extra monitor (or three), various peripherals, and plenty of elbow room. When you get out of the office, it's just you and your laptop (or maybe a notepad and paper). Working without all the “extras” will challenge your brain to work in a different way.
For me, writing is the easiest “away from my desk” task. For you it may be planning, getting your inbox under control, or simply reading some articles you've been meaning to get to.
Pro tip: Decide what you're going to work on prior to leaving your home office. That way, when you arrive at your temporary workspace, you can get down to business and make the most of your time away.
Working from home can be a lonely business. There's no water cooler to gather around, lunch mates to go out with, or creepy IT guy to avoid.
Even the most introverted among us are social at heart, craving some bit of human interaction. That human interaction is critical not only to our sanity but also to the quality of our work.
Whether it's a local meetup or an online community, find people who have common interests and engage.
Chatting with others gives you the chance to bounce ideas, discuss projects, and get in a bit of gossip. Interacting with and getting feedback from others is a great way to generate new ideas, discover creative solutions, and learn about new things.
Pro tip: Check out meetup.com to find gatherings of people with similar interests. Meetings range from business to technical to purely recreational.
Are you cringing already? Rolling your eyes? Don't hate me for this tip!
If you're like me, you spend a lot of time sitting at your desk. And then, after work, you go sit somewhere else a little more comfortable.
Unless we're intentional about getting up and about, the work-at-home lifestyle is super sedentary. It doesn't help that our wardrobes tend to involve a lot of elastic waistbands, which means we may not notice those extra pounds until we decide to leave the house in a proper pair of pants.
Guys, I don't know about you, but as a woman I can tell you that suddenly not fitting into a pair of jeans that just last month fit fine is depressing. It's easy to despair or eventually stop caring. After all, we work from home so nobody sees us, right?
Break that cycle. Be intentional about taking some exercise. You don't have to train for a marathon, but get out of the chair and make a point to be mobile at least once a day, every day.
Whether it's setting a repeat alarm on your phone reminding you to stretch during the day or a fitness tracker goading you into a minimum number of daily steps, find something physical and active to do.
Pro tip: Find a buddy to exercise with you, whether it's a walk, run, bike, or trip to the gym. Workout buddies keep you accountable and encourage you. Can't find someone local? Make a pact with an online friend.
When working from home, the line between work hours and after hours is easily blurred.
Does spending time with your family involve simply migrating your laptop from the office into the family room? Do you eat most meals in front of the computer? Do you check your email when you're out with friends?
I'm guilty of all those things.
When you work from home, you never quite leave the office and the temptation to keep producing (especially if you're self-employed) is strong.
But here's the deal – if you never cut the cord from work, even for a short period of time, you will burn out in a hurry. You'll find yourself spending more time being less productive.
Your hours don't have to be 8-5. You may watch kids during the day and get your work done after bedtime. Do whatever works for your schedule. Staying flexible is fine (necessary even), but have a general plan for when you'll work and when you won't.
Once you've set your hours, set expectations for those around you about when you are or aren't available (this includes clients, co-workers and family). Guard the time you're on the clock and guard the time you're off it just as fiercely.
Pro tip: Take at least one full day away from work each week. No sneaking in an email or a quick call to a co-worker! Giving yourself a day away to spend with your family or doing something you enjoy will refresh you and your next day of work will be better for it.
Now it’s your turn. Even if you only implement one or two of these strategies, you’ll be on your way to mastering the art of working from home.