According to data from Forbes, close to 30 million Americans work from a home office at least one day a week. Whether you’re a self-employed freelancer, a business owner or someone who telecommutes rather than going into the office each day, working from home means comfort and convenience. It can also involve a lot of stress, and it has the tendency to throw your work-life balance off kilter. If you want to make working from home a positive in your life, then you’ll need a strategy.
1. Designate an Area
If you’ll be working from home long term, it’s a smart idea to set aside an area of your home for work. This helps create a divide between your work life and your personal life, and it’s also sometimes beneficial for tax purposes.
2. Get Dressed
This might seem like a funny tip, but something as simple as showering and putting actual clothes on can really increase your sense of well-being while working from home. It’s far too easy for a self-employed freelancer to tumble out of bed and begin the day without changing out of their pajamas. It might seem nice at first, but months of lounging around in ratty sweatpants can start to make you feel like a slob. Instead, decide on some comfortable clothing to wear during your workday and then get up and get ready in the mornings like a regular member of the workforce.
3. Set Your Hours
People who work from home sometimes struggle with knowing when to call it quits at the end of a long day. The world of freelancing never really stops, which means there will always be new opportunities out there waiting. If you’re the driven type, you might struggle to stop working and rest when you should. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, staring at the computer screen for long hours may make your eyes dry, tired and achy. You could also miss out on precious sleep, which adds up and can affect your health over time. By setting a schedule and sticking to it each week, you can avoid these issues.
4. Create Some Rituals
It’s helpful to have a ritual that marks the transition from workday to personal time in the evening. Some people have a commute home that allows them to process the day. Others meet up with friends or colleagues at a bar or restaurant after work. If you’re working from home, you’ll need to come up with your own ritual. For example, you could head out for a walk in the park before returning home for dinner.
5. Avoid the Chatter
Working from home can come with a lot of distractions, and social media is one of the worst. Checking your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts can be tempting, but if you want to increase productivity throughout your workday, you’ll want to save the social media for your personal time.
6. Connect to Others
Working from home is ideal for introverted types, but if you actually enjoyed joking around with your colleague in the next cubical, you might get a bit lonely after doing solo work for a while. Be sure to schedule plenty of time to go out and have fun with friends and family to offset the amount of time you’ll be spending alone.
7. Hire a Nanny
Some people choose to work from home so they can be closer to their children, which sounds ideal on paper but can actually bring a number of new challenges, especially if the kids are young. You can stick your baby in a great baby walker to buy yourself a few minutes, but if you really need to focus, it can be helpful to have a sitter. Spreading yourself too thin often causes productivity to suffer. You might not be able to afford it on a regular basis, but having a trustworthy nanny or babysitter on call for times when the workload is heavy could be worth the peace of mind.
Much like any other path in life, working from home has its ups and downs. However, with a little organization and self-discipline, it’s one of the best lifestyles there is.