The idea of working from home can be pretty appealing. Imagine how much you’d without the regular office distractions. Imagine the comfort of having my own home office. Imagine never having to deal with rush hour traffic again. It sounds wonderful, and as you get older the 9-to-5 office life can get a little stale. Maybe it is time for that home office. But before you get too excited, you should know there are a lot of challenges that come with this work environment that you need to prepare yourself for. Here’s a few tips for making sure you can pull off an effective work life from home:
Establish your office
Before you even start working from home, you need to set aside a place in the house that you’ll be able to work. You don’t have to do a whole remodeling job to build yourself the ideal office, but you absolutely need to create a place that allows you to be comfortable and is suitable for getting work done. This should be the fun part. Working at home means you have total control in how the office looks. It doesn’t need to be the only place you work, but you’ll be doing yourself a favour by giving yourself a space to escape and get stuff done.
Stay to a strict schedule
There’s a certain freedom to working from home, but don’t run away with that idea. Many people struggle with keeping themselves on track after leaving the office life. It takes self-discipline to make yourself work without any supervision, but that’s something you’ll have to get used to very quickly. Figure out what you need to get done each week or on a day by day basis, then make deadlines for yourself. It’s important to stay on track, not only to keep you from falling behind, but to make sure you’re busy throughout the week and not finishing everything by mid-week.
Get ready for work
Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to worry about getting all dressed up for work? No more suit and tie, just pyjamas and slippers for the whole day. Trust me, the novelty wears off. It’s just hard to get into the work mindset if the whole day feels like you just crawled out of bed. You should really start everyday like you were going into the office. Take a shower, shave, put on some clean clothes. It’s simple things that will help you feel ready for the day.
Make sure people understand you’re working
Yes, working at home does mean you’re around the house more, but it does not mean that you’re available. People can often forget that working at home is still as time-consuming as working from the office, and they should act as if you were working at the office. Don’t let friends drop by just to chat. Don’t run around doing errands during the day. Don’t let your everyone else leave all the chores for you to get done. Let people know your office hours and that you are doing your job during those office hours.
Stay in contact with the office
You should be warned now, there’s a significant disconnect between you and the office once you leave. It’s not hard to forget that you’re working with other people. You have to maintain that work relationship you had before, and that takes effort from both sides. Check in with the office regularly. Make sure you’re being caught up on what’s going on with the business. Know the meetings that you should be in on. Let the office know that you’re still there and you need to be kept in the loop. Just because you’re not at the office doesn’t diminish your role in the business at all.
You need to talk to people. The days where you go an entire workday without speaking to another human being (there will be those days) can be maddening. There’s definitely an isolation to working from home that you’ll have to conquer. To do that, just get out and talk to people. Socialize every day after work, grab a coffee with a friend, go out with people on the weekend. Seriously, for your sanity, you need to talk to people.
It can be easy to slide into an inactive funk due to sitting around the house all day. Sure you’re staying busy with work, but you’ve got be careful about becoming lazy. Remember that strict schedule we talked about? Well, it’s not just for work. You need to put aside time for breaks. Better yet, go for a walk. Make room in you daily schedule to get out of the house for a little while, not to blow off work, but to get some fresh air and be at least a little active. Don’t work during lunch either. Set the work aside and have a meal. And while we’re talking about food, be careful of making too many trips to the kitchen for a snack. Or at least make sure there’s some healthy options.
Working at home means working without supervision right? Wrong. You’re your supervisor and you have to stay on top of yourself. Don’t become removed from your work. You have to be able to review your work and be critical of it. You have to ensure you’re still providing the same quality work you always have. Do a regular self-assessment of your recent work. Recognize when you do really great work, and be ready to admit when you’ve fallen short. It’s not easy, but no one’s better suited for the job than you.
Keep all that in mind before you make the transition to working from home. There are some definite benefits but you need to know the challenges and understand if you can fit into that kind of work life.