In a technologically advanced world, many men and women now can work without leaving their homes. While this may be practical and convenient, challenges can arise when working from such an environment.
The Challenges of Working from Home
Some of the challenges that you may face when working remotely from home include, but are not limited to:
- Distractions from people, pets, and home entertainment
- Relaxed environment with a bed and couch immediately available
- Possibility of loneliness, cabin fever, and even depression
- Sub-par setup that slows productivity
- Difficulty keeping a schedule and managing time
- Losing track of tasks and deadlines
- Lack of contact and communication with coworkers or business partners
To help avoid these and other issues, here are some tips on how you can prevent them.
Maintain a Set Routine and Working Hours
When working from home, you must set your working hours of the day and maintain a structure. If you work for an employer with regular working hours such as 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, continue to work those same hours from home. If you are an entrepreneur and work from home for one or more clients, it is still good to maintain a structure to help balance out your day. Having these sort of set hours also helps ensure that you are available to those who need you during regular business hours and that they know not to bother at inappropriate times.
It is also helpful to implement a routine where you brush your teeth, get dressed, have your coffee, and any other steps you would take on a typical workday morning to help get yourself off to a good start. While these steps may not seem to be as important as your work-related tasks, they do in fact play an important role psychologically in the overall success of your day.
Throughout the day, you should be sure to take breaks and a lunch period just as you would when working for an employer on location. Being sure to take your breaks helps ensure that you keep track of the time, pause to eat and keep well-nourished, and avoid overloading yourself and getting burned out.
Carefully Manage Your Time and Tasks
Work involves many tasks and the last thing you want to do is be stuck kicking yourself at the end of the day for forgetting something important. A great solution to this issue is to create a structure based on time of day, priority level, and workflows.
There are various free online tools available where you can create and track tasks as you work through them if that helps. Or you can simply have a daily task sheet to help keep you from falling off the course. For some, the daily tasks can follow a routine that optimizes performance. For others, it may be better to simply have a paper where you can write down action items to check off throughout the day and with room for change as new priorities arise. If you can’t get to an item that day, you can carry it over into the next. But having it in writing and in front of you helps sort your thoughts onto a paper and avoid missing items. Marking deadline dates on your calendar can help to avoid missing them, making you more efficient and dependable to your colleagues.
Don’t forget, it is important to take time for yourself; taking a lunch break and occasional breaks to walk around. While it is important that you keep on top of your work-related tasks, your health is also important. Sitting for prolonged periods can have negative effects on your health. Which brings us to our next item.
Set Rules and Boundaries with People
If you have a partner, spouse, children, or roommate, it can be easy to get distracted by their conversations or requests. To help avoid this being an issue, it is recommended that you set rules and boundaries. If you need to stay focused on work during certain hours of the day, make sure they are aware and that they know to only pull your attention for specific reasons and through certain contact methods.
Those you live with must understand that while you are at home, you are still working just as though you were in an office building. Occasional leniency can, of course, be okay, but you want to avoid things being too casual and risking a lack of productivity.
You can also set simple contact methods with them as you would at work in case they want to talk with you. If they have a question they need to have answered, have them learn to make texting or messaging you with the question common practice for typical topics, while of course making in-person acceptable for emergencies or urgent matters.
Setup Your Environment for Success
Working in the wrong environment can cause issues with both productivity and your health. Make sure to pay careful attention to how you set things up for your home office. You will want to make sure to limit distractions, such as television unless they can be on without disrupting your flow of work. You will also want to pay attention to your health; making sure that your chair and computer are set up in an ergonomically friendly way.
Other aspects of your environment to consider are those that are not so much physical. Light, smell, and other factors can have a negative impact just like your chair and posture. Be mindful of the lighting, avoiding eye strain or fatigue. And avoid smells that may make you frequently hungry for snacks.
You will also want to make sure that your equipment is working properly. Be sure that you have a reliable internet connection, your phone on hand, and that there are no technological barriers such as intermittent internet connection or lack of access to files that can slow you down. The last thing you want to happen is to fall behind or miss an important deadline due to poor preparation.
Follow Healthy Habits
When working from home, even if you periodically get up to move around, you must look at your overall diet and activity level. Some healthy habits to follow include drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet, going for walks outside, and higher intensity exercise such as cardio. If you don’t have access to a fitness center, simply going outside for a walk or jog, doing some jumping jacks at home, or following an exercise video online can help get you moving. The importance is that you avoid an overly sedentary lifestyle, which can negatively affect your health. There are many valuable sources online that you can find to help guide you to better health habits that do not require a gym membership, but that can have tremendous benefits to your overall health.
Maintain Regular Communication with Others
For both health and work-related reasons, maintaining good communication with others is key to your success when working from home. Humans are very social beings who thrive on social connections. That is why we collaborate so well together.
When working from home, maintain communication with both personal and business connections in the ways that most thoroughly boost your morale and productivity. Have a weekly call with your coworkers? You might consider a video chat where you can see each other face to face.
Have people at home with you? Be sure to take some time to interact with them and lighten the mood. In-person interactions can have a much bigger impact on your mood and health than you realize. Don’t take them for granted.
Avoid Things That Increase Stress
Now that we’ve discussed how social connection is beneficial to your health, let’s look at the things to avoid that can harm your mood and overall health. This can come in the form of people, tasks, news, social media, and more.
If you find that watching the news or talking with a particular friend stresses you out and reduces your productivity, simply reduce or avoid those activities at the times that they can most affect your productivity. Do you find yourself feeling down after your scroll through your social media feed? Do a social media detox; avoiding those triggers that send your mind into a downward spiral.
By reducing these things and increasing the good habits such as the ones described above, you not only increase the likelihood that you will have a productive day, but the benefits can carry over into your personal life as well!