Work From Home? 5 Tips to Help Keep You Sane
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase, “work from home?” Is working at home a dream of yours, a reality, or something you’d never want to do? If you’re one of the many people in the e-learning industry who works from home, I bet you can relate to some of the following truths.
According to the January 2014 issue of Harvard Business Review, allowing employees to work from home may increase productivity. But it can take a little getting used to. Working from home is still a relatively new lifestyle for me, since I having started in late 2014. I really enjoy my job, and I do enjoy working from home, but like so many parts of life, you must master the art of juggling. So, while I am not yet an expert on the subject, I will offer some rookie advice that has helped me get through the last few months (with none of my hair pulled out and my sanity intact).
Tip 1: Get dressed every day.
Now, this may seem obvious, but I’m serious. Take those pajamas off and put on real clothes! I don’t mean you need to dress in full business attire, but changing out of what you wear to sleep or relax signals a mental change. Now, you’re ready to work. Dozens of people, after asking me what I do, say, “Wow, I’d sure love to work in my pajamas.” The assumption by the general population is that all telecommuters are sitting around dressed like Hugh Hefner, I suppose. While there are days I am more casual, I still feel more ready to take on the many tasks of my day when I’m wearing “real” clothes.
Tip 2: Get some exercise every day.
You don’t have to go out and train for a marathon, but at least 30 minutes of daily exercise can really make a difference in your mental clarity, your overall feeling, and your productivity. Let’s be honest. Working from home involves a lot of sitting. I don’t know about you, but I get antsy and can’t sit still for hours and hours. Exercise makes me feel good and it also helps me stay focused. Sometimes I work out in the morning before I begin working for the day. When I know my day is going to be particularly hectic, I may block out a time in the middle of the day to go for a run. It relieves stress and makes me feel ready to tackle the next task. Whatever you choose, just choose to move!
Tip 3: Get away from work at lunch.
I’ve probably struck a chord on this one, am I right? How many of you work while you’re eating? I understand that some days it’s a necessity, but try to step away from work while you eat at least a couple times a week. Maybe you want to meet your friend or spouse for a quick lunch, or maybe it just means you’re going to sit down and watch a little TV, read a book, or sit outside on your porch. It really doesn’t matter what you’re doing, as long as it’s something you enjoy!
Tip 4: Get a schedule and stick to it.
The biggest obstacle I faced when I first began working from home (and still do, if I’m completely honest) was learning when to take off my “worker hat” and put on my “regular person” hat. When you work from home, your work is always, always with you. At first it was very difficult for me to not work if I knew there were still things on my list. Sometimes working in the evenings or a weekend is necessary, but if you’re doing it all the time, it’s not good. How productive can you be if you’re always working and not enjoying your life? Soon you may even begin to resent your job, or your friends and loved ones may start to resent you for not spending time with them.
Tip 5: Get an “in the office” friend.
I am not a terribly extroverted person, but I do enjoy people. What I missed most when I started working from home was the human interaction. One day I realized I had not spoken a word for six hours because there was nobody to talk to. When I started having conversations with my cats, I knew my sanity was hanging in the balance! This went on for a couple of weeks until I realized the people I work closely with for my job are just a text or email away. If I’m feeling frustrated about something or need to ask another person’s opinion, I have my work friends. These friends aren’t in the next office or cubicle, so I just needed to redefine the term “office” and get creative.
So, whether you work from home a few times per month, once a week, or every day, let me challenge you to implement at least one of these ideas into your daily life and see how it impacts your work flow. You might surprise yourself how one little change makes a huge difference in your attitude and your productivity. And on those days when you’re feeling really frustrated, just keep remembering all the benefits of working from home.
Do you work from home? If so, comment below and share your own tips!