Working from home is a dream for some. After all, you can enjoy the comforts of home while you respond to emails, turn in reports, and finish big projects. But working at home presents its own challenges, and it’s important to have strategies in place to keep you focused and unstressed. That’s even more true as large numbers of people are adjusting to a new normal that makes their home their workplace. Here, we’ll take a look at a few helpful tips to make your at-home work days as productive as possible.
1. Create a work area that’s all your own.
If you’re not used to working at home, you may think the dining room table or couch is the perfect place to get things done. Problems with this arrangement arise quickly, though, as TV, family, and pets keep you from focusing and completing your work. Moving a desk into your bedroom causes a different issue – soon, you begin to associate the space with work and find it far less restful than you once did.
If at all possible, find a spot away from the hustle and bustle of family life for your home office. This could mean transforming a spare bedroom or claiming a corner of the finished basement for your work hours. Outfit that space with the tools you need to get work done and feel comfortable, including:
- A desk with enough space for paperwork and technology
- A comfortable chair
- A laptop, preferably with a keyboard and monitor for greater comfort
- Pens, notepads, and other office supplies
Set boundaries for your workspace and make sure family members understand them. You may even wish to close the door to your home office during work hours to remind everyone that you’re busy.
2. Establish a schedule and stick to it.
Some employers may require you to keep standard hours while working at home, while other companies, the self-employed, and freelancers are free to set their own schedule. That makes it tempting to sleep late, work through the night, or take each day as it comes with no defined routine.
Yet health experts agree that routines are good for us and support both physical and mental health. That’s why you should maintain some sort of schedule, even while working at home. Try to wake at the same time each day, establish a pre-work routine like a walk, yoga, or making breakfast, and work between the same hours daily. You’ll feel more on top of things, and important work won’t fall through the cracks.
3. Watch out for fatigue when working at home.
It’s easy to feel worn down when working at home, although you might feel like you’re slacking just by skipping the office. Research suggests, however, that the average remote worker works 1.4 more days per month than her in-office peers. To avoid burnout and stress, you’ll need to pay close attention to how you’re feeling.
Choosing a standing desk is a good way to get the blood flowing, reduce discomfort, and fight fatigue. A recent study showed that after using a standing desk, mostly sedentary employees felt less fatigued and more engaged. Best of all, you won’t need to stand all day – start slow and increase the amount of time you stand for best results.
4. Don’t skip breakfast and lunch.
Food is fuel. When you’re heading out for work each day, you may grab a breakfast bar from the pantry, then order lunch with officemates or bring a sandwich from home. However, working at home may leave you at loose ends when it comes to regular meals. Even if you’re sticking with your office eating habits, this is a great time to focus on improving nutrition to give your body what it needs for productivity.
Make sure you start each day with a healthy breakfast, then eat a nutritious lunch at midday. Foods like whole-grain breads and pastas, fresh fruits and veggies, eggs, and lean chicken and fish are all great choices to give you the energy you need to succeed.
5. Keep clutter at bay while working from home.
Maintaining a neat work area is never easy, but it’s even harder at home. Your personal mail and the kids’ school papers mingle with work documents, and it’s all too easy to clear room at the table by dumping messes onto your desk. And this clutter is more than unsightly – it’s also bad for your productivity. Science has proven that clutter creates stress, causes procrastination, and costs businesses time and money.
If you’re struggling to find a place for everything in your home office, a bookshelf offers an easy solution. Look for options that include both open and concealed storage to provide room for books and decorative accents, as well as printer paper, files, and office supplies. You’ll reclaim your desk and feel less stress in a neat work environment.
6. Do things that make you feel good.
When you’re not leaving the home, you can quickly fall into a rut. It’s all too easy to work in pajamas, stay on the clock long after a reasonable amount of work has been done, or never unplug from email or work instant messages. And if you don’t make time for things that give you a little boost, you’re likely to feel the effects sooner rather than later.
So how can you make self-care part of your work-from-home life? For starters, you can try:
- Wearing a favorite outfit or piece of jewelry
- Listening to a playlist of positive tunes
- Take a break to meditate, stretch, or go for a walk
- Make time to video chat or talk on the phone with coworkers
- Light a candle in a scent you love
Everything You Need for Productive Days at Home
With these tips, you’ll soon be a work-from-home superstar. Just remember – with the right setup and the right attitude, you can accomplish anything at home that you can do in an office. For more ideas and inspiration, visit the Twin Star Home blog or subscribe to our newsletter.