Working from home is a blessing and a curse. It's great to have the freedom to wear your PJs and sit in the comfort of your couch's arms, but that same lack of discipline can sometimes make getting the work done more difficult. Sometimes being too comfortable is not conducive to producing good work. In fact, for me, I notice that I make more mindless errors when I'm too relaxed. It's good to have a little healthy stress and structure in your work day!
In an office you have a stronger sense of urgency, you have people standing over you, waiting for things, breathing pressure down your neck. You have other people in your periphery who are busy working away, you have stark, bright lights and upright chairs that bring a serious tone to the work that's sometimes very helpful.
But when your job is remote, you have to do your best to create that same sense of importance and professionalism on your own. You have to find a way to make your cozy space a functional one. At the same time, you want to enjoy the fact that you have an alternative work life and play into that vibe as well.
Here are a few ways that you can turn the place you call home to the place you call the office...for at least a few hours a day.
Lighting can change everything. It affects the mood, the tone, the psych. If you want to get good work done, you should have a strong lighting system in place. You might not realize it, but working in the dark is not only bad for your eyes but your mental health as well. Whether you prefer natural light by the window, or florescent light by lamp, make sure you have plenty of it. It will keep you awake, alert, and happy.
Maybe your favorite thing about working from home is the fact that you get to bypass that whole desk situation. If that's the case, that's totally fine. However, it's important to have some sort of desk as a station. Find a clean surface in your home and use that as your home base. Keep anything pertaining to your job on this surface and spend at least a few minutes in the early morning sitting at the desk and getting organized. Then, if you're more comfortable typing away on the couch, go for it. Just remember to check in with that organized designated work base.
They're not just for office workers. Sure, you might not need to wear headphones in the privacy of your own home, but you'll be amazed at how much more focused you are when you plug in your headphones to listen to music while you work from home. It can be easy to get distracted working in your own space. There's no one keeping you from constantly wandering to the fridge or tinkering with things. Your headphones will keep you in the zone and make it just a tiny bit more difficult to get distracted and wander away from your computer.
Every once in a while, try working outside of the house. It's easy to feel isolated and lonely when you're home alone all day, so working in public can help make you feel less alone. Find a local cafe that offers WiFi and has space to plug in and work. You'll be surprised how many people in your neighborhood work remote as well. Just sitting in the presence of other people can help lift your spirits. Getting out of the house will help break up the monotony of your situation, too.
Sure, wearing the same oversized sweatshirt and leggings every day is blissful. But if you work from home every single day, it's important to remember to take care of yourself. Not to mention, getting dressed in non-stretch pants can really help your sense of professionalism. You don't have to wear a pant suit to produce good work, but getting up a bit earlier to shower and put some real clothes on will actually make you feel better.
Working from home makes you your own boss in many ways. You have to stay on top of yourself. Because you're not in an office environment, you don't have people constantly reminding you of things you should be working on. Get yourself a notebook and dedicate it solely to your job. Make check lists every morning, make notes of things you've been emailed and keep track of everything you've completed. Make reminders for yourself regarding payroll, too.
If you're like me, without a standard lunch break, it's always lunch time. In an office, you look forward to a lunch break being your daily salvation. But when you're home, you're not really in need of a break in the same way. Often, I forget to eat lunch at all, or I snack all day. Try figuring out your lunch break before the day. Prepare a lunch the night before and take 30 minutes to put your computer to sleep, clear your mind and refuel. It's important to have structured work and structured breaks.
Just because you don't have to be anywhere doesn't mean you don't have to show up. Create hard office hours for yourself and make sure that during that time you're working your butt off. Let whomever you report to know when you're done for the day and be done. Treat your remote work life with the same time sensitivity that you would with your office work life. Be logged on when you say you will and work hard until it's time to log off.
Maybe this is obvious, maybe it's already taken care of, but keep your space clean! Make sure at the end of the day you clean up your work space and organize your files. Treat your home space like you would someone else's office. Wipe down the surfaces, organizes your papers and straighten up. It will be that much easier to get into the groove the next day.