Many people may find themselves to working from home for the first time in their career. This is something that can be quite a change and have some very interesting challenges. Working from home takes much more personal discipline and focus than working in an office with your peers, not to mention your boss.
I will never forget my first week transitioning to working at home nearly eight years ago. I took a new job with a new company in marketing where I would be working remotely. My first morning I woke up early, got ready and sat in front of my computer and thought, now what?
Here are some things that I learned and also picked up from some of my other remote colleagues:
- Establish business hours
At an office, you have nothing else really to do beside talk to your colleagues or take another coffee break if you are feeling unmotivated and having a hard time diving into your next task. At home, there is always another project or task to keep you busy and away from your job. Your business hours will condition you to make that separation and also help you with balancing your work/life balance in your new work environment.
- You must turn off your work brain at night
This goes hand in hand with tip number 1. It is vital to your health and to the health of your family, that you “come home” after work. Your office is now your home and it is all too easy to continue working through the evening hours. Again, I am speaking from experience and I have looked at the clock and realized it is 10pm and I haven’t really walked away from my desk. There will be times when you need to work late, but don’t make it a habit for it will not be sustainable for your mental health or the health of your relationships. I personally had a spare bedroom I turned into my office and would shut the door and not go in there again until the morning. Don’t get sucked in to work longer hours than you need.
- Dedicate a work space
I don’t think you ever cared to live at your office, and it will start to feel like that the longer you work from home. By dedicating an area of your home as your office, it will help to mentally separate the two. This does not have to be an extra bedroom in your house, like me, but during your business hours, you need a dedicated space to have set up. This helps you and your family know when you are there, you are at work. When you walk away, or shut your computer, you are home. Do not give your personal life to your job.
- Get outside!
There have been many times in the past that I have realized I have gone 2-3 days without leaving the house. Since you don’t have a commute anymore, you may start to miss that time you had to yourself in the car, even if sitting in traffic! Set a calendar appointment where you just take a quick walk outside to get some fresh air and not feel like you are on house arrest. Having a dog to walk is also very helpful
- Music and podcasts can be a sanity saver
In my early days working, the house was so quiet it drove me nuts. I actually started talking to myself so much that after awhile my wife had to ask if I was alright since she noticed I was having full conversations with myself. Music or a podcast will provide background noise and can also help keep you going throughout the day.
- Keep an eye on your eating habits and health
You are working from home with a stocked kitchen of junk food just steps away and you will be tempted to snack all day. After all, you don’t have coworkers to judge you. You also will not get “your steps in” for naturally you are not having to walk anywhere. I highly suggest to take your new found time to work out more. Whether you work out at a gym or just go for a walk or run, you need to stay healthy and in shape and be more dedicated to staying fit.
- Enjoy your freedoms!
If you are following some of the above tips, your efficiency will be increased by a great margin. You will not have the distractions of unnecessary meetings or conversations to interrupt your work day. What took you 3 hours to complete may take half that time. Use your new found time in the day and accomplish some of the above tips by scheduling a quick run or bike ride between conference calls. Go to a coffee shop or work from a park. Your new office is anywhere you have a wifi signal and as long as you are getting your job done, you may find yourself with a lot more time freedom. Now go and enjoy it.