4 Ways to Make The Most of Working From Home

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Working from home can be a fantastic way to live a more flexible life, spend more time doing the things you want to be doing, and living life more on your terms rather than the constraints of the 9-5 lifestyle.

When you work from home your time is much less tied up with busy commutes, pointless meetings, idle chit chat around the water cooler, busy work to keep your boss placated, and constant distractions with colleagues butting in whilst you are trying to get your head down  to do work.

Working from home makes a lot of sense, particularly if you’re setting up a new business or are self-employed, as it can save both a lot of money and time.  In fact, even if you have a job, working from home is a much more efficient way to work, as this way you’re not having to waste loads of time sat in traffic during rush hour or have the expense of peak travel.

That said, working from home is not all positive, there are downsides to working from home, such as the feeling if isolation and subsequent loneliness that can kick in if you are by yourself all day, in your home office, without much contact from the outside world.  Indeed, many people that work from home find they are having to fend off low mood and depression due to feeling so isolated and not part of the world.

Therefore, whilst the morning commute can be a drag, it can also be healthy to feel part of something and have shared experiences – almost in the vein of, “it’s horrible to be sat on a freezing cold train station at 7am, but at least we’re all in it together”.

There’s also the challenge of productivity when it comes to working from home.  For some people, of course, working from home makes them much more productive, as this way they they don’t have to deal with the distractions mentioned above (e.g. colleagues chatting and distracting you)… yet, for most of people, productivity has a tendency to suffer as a result of the lack of accountability and various distractions that are much more tempting  when working from home.

It’s clear that whilst there are often lots of benefits to working from home, there are also some challenges, particularly if you struggle with discipline or concentration.

It’s therefore essential to set up a good space in which to work that will allow you to feel comfortable and relaxed yet focused and productive.  You want this to be secure, quiet and a place where you will not be disturbed.

Many people, when they think about working from home, have images of lounging around in their underwear, working in bed with their head propped up with a few pillows, and whilst this can be nice at first, it quickly gets old and can lead to a real slump in productivity.

Ultimately, you’ll want a distraction free environment that allows you to focus on the task at hand, and ideally will differentiate your ‘home’ from your ‘home office’.

1. CREATE A PRODUCTIVE SPACE

The first step, in setting up your office is to make sure you have a productive space in which to work.  This means you need to be somewhere with plenty of light, quiet, and minimalism so that you can focus on the task at hand.

The first step, therefore, is to declutter the space, as it can be very challenging to focus on a task if there is clutter everywhere.  This is why so many people find it helpful to sit in an art gallery or library when trying to concentrate.

In some ways, setting up your office might feel like an unnecessary waste of time, yet the return on effort is high… as it will help you be much more productive in the long run.

It’s imperative you create a distraction free environment that will allow you to focus, therefore decluttering the space, and ideally having a space that’s a little separate from your home is a good idea – for instance, an annexe, garage, loft, or even shed.  This way, there is some physical and emotional separation between being at home and relaxing and working from home.

This is critical, as otherwise, you will find yourself feeling rather stressed – after all, that “Friday feeling” is a thing for a reason, as is the feeling of getting home from the office… it’s important you create a divide between “working at home” and being at home.

2. COMFORT

Many people find themselves lying in bed, working from home, and this can be tempting but it often isn’t the most productive way to approach working from home.

If you’ve created a space to work in, then the next step is to ensure the space is comfortable – this means having plenty of light, heat or cool (depending on the season), and having furniture that supports you.

You’ll most likely want to get a decent sized desk, as sitting in bed or on the sofa at home is going to cause serious postural issues if you are hunched over your laptop.  The nice thing about having a large desk is that you will be able to spread out and focus your attention where it needs to be, without feeling precariously balanced or boxed in behind all the different documents and devices.

What you sit on is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to kitting out your office, as if you’re like most people, you’ll be sitting in this chair upwards of eight hours per day.  For this reason you’ll want a chair that provides decent ergonomic support and plenty of padding for your back and bottom, as you don’t want to be suffering with aches and pains due to a substandard desk and chair set-up.

3. HAVE A ROUTINE

Working from home can be a blessing but also a curse; as mentioned above with regard to feeling isolated and lonely.

On the one hand your commute is now greatly reduced, as it will be from your bedroom to your home office, perhaps just a few metres away – which has huge benefits in terms of convenience and cost reduction given the congested commutes many people are subjected to, but this “convenience” can negatively impact your productivity.

There’s something about the ritual of getting dressed for work, taking the journey to the office, picking up your morning cup of coffee and saying hello to the same people, each day, that puts you in the right mindset to work.  Essentially, it puts you in a mental state that you associate with “working” – whereas, when you work from home, you don’t have this.

Indeed, many people might not even shower until mid-afternoon and just sit around in their dressing gown whilst working.  This has been proven to reduce productivity and also cause emotional issues such as low mood and depression, even if you are performing a highly paid and highly valued role.

The thing with working from home is that there are many distractions to contend with, from Netflix to the washing up, or just having a nice long soak in the bath.  There’s much less accountability.

In this vein, you need to be a little more regimented with your time and rituals… for instance, you could set yourself a lunch hour between a set time each day, or adopt the approach that many people working from home take, which is to get dressed for work, in smart clothes, as if you were going to the office… this way it puts you in a more focused and productive state than lounging around in your dressing gown.

It’s also important to get out the house in order to beat the isolation associated with working from home, whether this is sitting in a coffee shop, or even a library from time to time.

4. WORK WHEN YOU’RE WORKING

It’s can be very tempting for your attention to drift anywhere other than on work, at the best of times, but much more so when you are working from home.

Previously, we talked about the importance of having separation between  “working” from home and relaxing at home, and this ties in with that.

If you’re in an office environment you are held much more accountable, than when working from home, as there are expectations and measures of accountability within an office environment – for instance, imagine sitting in the office watching Netflix, or getting lost in a Facebook conversation.  It would be noticed!

In this sense, you might want to set up your own ‘parental controls’ that allow you to restrict the content you’re able to access when working in order to remain focused.

This is one of the most significant challenges when working from home, as we all procrastinate, and working from home allows us to.  We are also guilty of “half working” meaning, we will have the TV on in the background, or be watching the kids, whilst trying to get on with work.

The key here, is to work when you are working and rest when you are resting.  This is why having a seperate space to work is so important.

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