So you ditched white-walled cubicles and a 9-to-5 routine for a job that lets you work from home. For most people, this is a cause for celebration — no more dealing with awful traffic, annoying coworkers, and stuffy officewear. Finally, you’re in charge of your own time, and you can even work all day in your pajamas!
Yes, you’ve successfully done away with everything you loathe about the corporate lifestyle… but not without a cost.
With the extra freedom comes a major problem that plagues work-from-home employees everywhere: how do I remain productive when the TV and the bed are only several steps away?
Don’t panic just yet! You can still stay on top of your game, as long as you practice self-control and follow these tips to keep yourself motivated:
1. Create your own perfect working environment
Now that you’ve bid adieu to the stifling, fluorescent-lighted work environment, you can finally design the office of your dreams! If you’ve always envisioned yourself working in an area overlooking a magnificent view, or having a Pinterest-y desk tucked in a cozy nook, then go right ahead!
Pull up that elliptical machine office desk, or splurge on that outrageous Han Solo carbonite table you’ve always thought was too crazy for your 9-to-5 life. This time, the only office rules to abide by are the ones you make.
2. Keep a consistent working schedule
Being the boss of your own time doesn’t mean that you can just be in vacation mode 24/7. Surprise, suprise… even if you work from the comforts of your kitchen table, you still need to keep a regular daily working schedule to stay on top of your tasks. The good news is, you can design a schedule that fits you. If you think that you’re most productive in the mornings, then by all means, get all your work done early in the day. But if your habits are more similar to that of a vampire’s, train yourself to clock in at a specific time every night. This will be your new 9-to-5.
3. Strictly keep your work area specifically for work
When working from home, it gets challenging to create boundaries between home and professional life. To be able to balance the two successfully, designate your office space strictly for work and nothing else. This means that TV, video games, and the children’s play area should be in totally separate rooms. Your home office should not share a space with your guest bedroom, the pantry, or a mini-gym. This way, possible distractions are minimized.
4. Keep your environment as professional as possible
Just because you can go ham on your working space, does not mean that you should leave all semblance of professionalism behind. If your job still calls for virtual meetings and such, it’s best to keep your surroundings appropriate for such activities. A closed room to cancel out any external noise is one of the most basic requirements.
5. Only check emails and social network updates at set times
Without the traditional office setup, you will generally be left to contact people through email, or even through social media. It’s easy to get sucked in your multiple inboxes only to realize at the end of the day that this ate up most of your time. Time management experts have suggested checking emails only five times per day. Depending on the nature of your work, keep email and social media updating at its most minimal, so you can leave room to accomplish all your other pending tasks.
6. Keep beverages on your desk, but never snacks
Your work desk is only meant for work responsibilities and nothing else (this is a rule we have established above). Save snacks and meals for the dining table. Drinks (we recommend just water) are acceptable to take into your office to hydrate you while you’re busy working, but coffee and snacks should be taken elsewhere.
7. Switch to a new location once in awhile
The mundane routine of working from home will catch up to you, we don’t deny that. When that happens, simply take your desk elsewhere. Is that quaint Vietnamese coffee shop calling your name today? Or maybe the weather looks perfect for a quiet stay at the park? Just stuff your laptop in your bag and bring all your other necessities. A change in scenery will surely motivate you to get more done, and give your lungs some much-needed fresh air.
8. Work with a buddy
Tired of working alone at your home office desk? Call a friend who also works out of his living room and set a work date. Sitting beside someone who’s busy tapping away at his keyboard will motivate you to do the same, plus it’ll be nice to have someone to talk to for a change.
9. Don’t forget to take breaks
Although it sounds like working within the comforts of your home is the most relaxing thing in the world, you still can’t escape being overwhelmed by stressors. To prevent from feeling burnt-out, always remember to step away from your desk and take mini breaks. Take a little breather outside, make yourself a coffee, or simply stretch your muscles… but limit the break to 15 minutes max.
10. Keep your health in check
The lack of human interaction in your line of work does not keep you from getting the common flu once in a while. No one expects an employee to be at his or her optimum performance every day, you’re not a robot. If your health does fail you, allow yourself to take a day or two to recover and you should be back in fighting form to accomplish all your tasks in no time.
11. Go out and meet people
Interacting with a screen (and only a screen) for most of your waking life isn’t healthy, no matter how you convince yourself otherwise. Go out and socialize, see what’s new with the outside world. Meet new people or catch up with old friends. Connecting with fellow human beings will do you some good, so make sure to leave room in your schedule to just go out and enjoy yourself as well.