In this age of technology, it is becoming increasingly easier to telecommute. More and more workers are striking out on their own as freelancers or entrepreneurs, and companies are realizing they can save big on overhead by offering telecommute options and downsizing their physical office space. All this means one thing: many of us at one point or another are going to have to figure out how to work from home.
I currently work from home and have a love/hate relationship with it. On the one hand, the flexibility is amazing, on the other, I spend the majority of my time alone, which even for an introvert like me can get monotonous and lonely. I mean, I’m great company, but even I get sick of conversing with only me after a couple of days.
It’s difficult to predict how you’ll handle working from home until you actually do it. I thought it would be amazing, but have come to realize it is not my cup of tea, and I’ve had to find certain coping mechanisms.
Whether you’re working from home by choice, or you’re a prisoner of the telecommute, here are a few strategies I’ve found help to keep up my productivity, morale and, let’s be real—personal hygiene.
When you make the transition from office life to home office life, do everything you can to keep your office morning routine—getting up, showering, dressing. It’s really tempting to sleep in those first few weeks, but once you do that, trust me, it’s so hard to stop. Next thing you know, you’ll be rolling out of bed and straight to your desk, and that’s no way to approach work. Plus, we need that ramping up and slowing down period between the work day and home life.
Working from home makes it easy to slip into a home-focused routine and suddenly you look up and can’t remember the last time you felt the sun on your face. Try to get outside every day, whether it’s for a social engagement or just a walk around the block. Also be sure to get up and move around. Working from home can be pretty sedentary when you don’t even have to walk to the train or run out to get lunch. Make sure to counteract that by putting extra emphasis on staying active and healthy.
3. Change out of sweatpants
When I tell people I work from home I always get this: “Ugh you’re soooo lucky. I would love to work in yoga pants all day.” Said with a mixture of jealousy and revulsion. I work in real clothes, people! Let’s help give WFH-ers a better rep, and all feel a bit better about ourselves.
The importance of a dedicated workspace has been written about ad nauseum. But to that I would add that the dedicated workspace has to be comfortable! I had big ambitions to sit on an exercise ball all day to improve my posture and strengthen my core, but that’s hard, y’all. And with no other comfortable desk chair option, where did I end up? You guessed it—the couch. Make your workspace a place you actually want to be in.
5. Remember you’re not home all day
I really struggled with this one. You have to remember that you’re not a stay-at-home parent/spouse/roommate. You’re working and shouldn’t hold yourself to a different standard than the people you live with. If there are dishes in the sink when your SO/roommate leaves in the morning, they can still be there when they come home. Don’t put pressure on yourself to tidy up because you’re home all day—because you’re not. You’re at work.
If you work for yourself, you probably don’t have coworkers you can vent to when a client is being a total pain. And even if you work as part of a team, it can be tough to establish a rapport when you never see them. Make sure you have a work support system, whether it’s other freelancers, your SO, or friends. Just be sure to vent and then move on—you still have to be able to leave work issues mostly at work.
7. Work from home doesn’t have to be from home
Sure it’s nice not to have to commute in rain or snow or sleet, but when the weather is beautiful, it can be tough to be cooped up all day and night in the same place. Remember that you can take your laptop and work from a coffee house, library, or even rent a desk in a coworking space—you’re allowed a change of scenery!
All you freelancers, small business owners and work-from-homers: what are your best tips for keeping up productivity and morale? Share below in the comments!