Working from home certainly has its perks, from the luxury of having no commute to the convenience of having your own kitchen nearby. While working from home can bring excitement and flexibility, though, we're less likely to discuss the frustrations of a home office that can have you reaching for the closest glass of wine by the end of the day.
Over the last few years, working from home has become an increasingly popular option, with employees from secretaries to CEOs taking advantage of the flexibility and luxury of a home office at least part of the work week. With the COVID-19 crisis, working from home has skyrocketed even more, and many companies are looking at the forced exile from shared office space as an opportunity to open doors for permanent remote work for employees.
Regardless of whether you work from home once a month, once a week or every day, it is very important to set a positive tone for your day when working from home, both for your own sanity and to help with productivity. For anyone looking to make working from home more efficient, it may be time to adopt these crucial habits.
- Start the day off right. Just because you are at home does not give you the excuse to skip out on daily home and personal tasks. Start your day off with a routine that could include a morning relaxation practice, making your bed, relaxing with a warm morning shower or enjoying a non-fiction book while drinking your morning cup of coffee. Sticking to a routine will help you start the day on the right, most productive foot.
- Identify your top three priorities. Before opening up or turning on your computer, outline what tasks you need to accomplish for the day. Look at your to-do list and come up with your top three priorities--both big and small--that you must accomplish above all the rest. Tackle these items first, and keep in your mind that anything else after is just an even greater win for the day!
- Define your work hours and stick to them. Without the boundaries established by a commute or designated office, those who work from home are often to start work immediately after waking up and linger online until it is time for bed. It is very important to create a line between your work and personal life. By defining your work hours, you are less likely to get distracted and, thus, more likely to be productive. Let those who live with you know your work hours so they can respect your work time and avoid distraction. And remember, when your work hours are over, they are over. Rather than burning the midnight oil, enjoy your personal time with your family and friends, just as you would if you were leaving a traditional office!
- Allow time for breaks. Just because you are at home doesn't mean you should skip out on lunch, stretching, reading, going for a walk or having a good conversation with a co-worker. It's important to take care of your own well-being throughout the work day! Plus, when you take care of yourself properly, you are better able to care for others and give 100 percent to your work projects while you're on the clock.
- Get up and move. By working at home you eliminate commuting to the office, but this does not mean that we should waste the extra free time you have during the day. Take advantage of that commute time and create a plan to be active, instead! The British Journal of Sports Medicine found that incorporating a morning exercise routine improves your attention, visual learning and decision-making skills. Research has also linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of related health concerns, such as obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar and abnormal cholesterol levels.The best way to incorporate movement is to do something that you enjoy so set a timer, hang up sticky notes or just make a mental note to get up and move your muscles once every hour.
- Act as if you are actually going into the office. You may be laughing to yourself, but that means get up and shower, eat a balanced breakfast and still dress to impress like you normally would going into the office. This practice will allow you to feel more productive and professional, rather than lounging the day away in your favorite sweatpants or silky pajamas.
- Have a separate workspace. If at all possible, create your own designated workspace in a separate area in your house or apartment. It's best not to work from your bed or your dining room table. Ensure that this space is comfortable, has proper lighting and has little or no distractions.
Habits can be hard to break, but if you want to make positive changes and set yourself up for success while working from home, it is important to set a positive tone for your day, every day.