Working from home for the first time? Well, I’m somewhat of an expert. Luckily, our staff works from home, so I’m well-versed on the ins and outs of what it takes to successfully work from home. If you’ve never worked from home before, it can be challenge getting started — especially because, in the beginning, it feels like it’s just another day off. You forget you’re “at work” and it’s just too easy to sleep in, watch TV or get distracted by just about anything.
The difficult part about working from home temporarily is realizing how much more easy and productive it can be than is widely suggested. With a little structure and scheduling, it can be a rewarding and successful experience for both employee and employer.
There’s something definitely freeing about not having to get dressed up and pack a lunch everyday. Plus, no more stress of dealing with daily traffic — probably one of the best perks of all.
Trust us, it took me years to develop a good system. After years of working in my pajamas (woo-hoo!), we have what we consider to be the best tips for working at home:
Keep a schedule
Setting and keeping a schedule is essential. Mark specific hours that you will exclusively focus on work, with no other intentions. We find that two-hour blocks of time work best.
The best part of working at home is that you can be flexible with your schedule and work when you’re at your peak performance. Are you a morning person or are you up with the night owls?
It’s all up to you. If you don’t keep a tight schedule, you may find yourself watching “Judge Judy” more than you expected or playing with Fido and, then, rushing to get all of your work done.
Designate an office space
You can’t be successful, without a designated work area. And, no, you don’t necessarily need a den, library or home office. Even a spot at the kitchen table or space in the bedroom can work.
You just need a place with all of your work essentials — computer, paperwork and office supplies. Make this is a place that’s off limits to others. Just like at work, you don’t want someone messing with your desk.
Do not disturb
This rule is so important for anyone not living alone. If you have a spouse, kids or roommates, you’ll want to make it clear when you’re working, so as to prevent others from disturbing you. (I can’t account for furry family members interrupting your work day, but that’s always a welcome distraction.)
Because so many of us are afraid of being rude, it may be helpful to have some sort of signal to let others know you’re in “work mode.” The most obvious is an actual sign — “Working. Please do not disturb.”
However, for a more family-friendly version, get creative. You can use a special flag or designated silly hat to let little ones know to leave Mommy or Daddy alone.
Everyone loves a reward. Maybe your boss at work doesn’t recognize your work, but you can.
When you complete a particularly arduous task, give yourself a treat –enjoy a scoop of ice cream, stream an episode of your favorite show or go for a walk outside. Basically, anything that will motivate you to get all of your work done.
Why do we love working from home?
To be honest, I can’t imagine ever working in an office setting again. My stress levels are lower, I have saved lots on car maintenance (including gas) and eating lunch out every day of the week and, best of all, I’m never late to work.
And I totally don’t miss the office politics of having to celebrate every co-worker’s birthday, buying unwanted cookies, popcorn or gift wrap (you know what I’m talking about!) or worry about office gossip. (Hey, I’m just now realizing…maybe I’m not a “people person”?)
My only co-worker is a cat and he’s not talking. (Although, I think he may be talking to human resources.) Our biggest “office” squabble is who’s in charge!
If you work from home, do you have any other helpful tips or suggestions?