Are you ready to ditch the suit and throw on some pajamas because you’re working from home now? Are you excited to set your own schedule and skip the morning commute? Ready for breaks that involve Netflix and naps on your own comfy couch?
If you are currently a remote worker or you’ve been thinking about working from home, there’s a likely chance at least a couple of thoughts like these ones have entered your mind once or twice. But without the right work habits, you may as well throw your dreams of working from home out the window.
The surprising thing isn’t how many bosses are letting their employees work remotely. When it comes down to it, it’s more surprising how few telecommuters there are. By offering remote work options, bosses are able to lower their overhead and often have happier, more productive workers.
The only problems arise when this isn’t the case. While some freelancers and telecommuters are great at working from home, others need to learn better work habits. Even the best remote workers fall into common pitfalls when they begin working from home.
The trick is ditching those remote work habits once you recognize them.
You began working from home because you wanted to avoid a long commute each morning. By telecommuting, you don’t have to leave the house at all if you don’t want to. From grocery delivery to online clothing shops, you can get everything you need at the click of a button.
While you can theoretically do everything you need to in life from your home office, you should try to get out of the house for at least a little while each day. Even a simple walk around the block with your pet can help refresh your mind and spirit. The last thing you need to do is remain glued to your seat all day.
When you work from home, you don’t have co-workers to talk to. You don’t have to talk to the local barista while you pick up your before-work coffee. Because of this, it’s easy to become socially isolated, lonely, and depressed.
By getting outside or heading to a local cafe to do some of your work, you can get a new perspective. You can also prevent the loneliness and isolation some telecommuters experience. Even taking a few minutes to call a friend or family member during a break can break the silence of your day.
There are other ways you can take care of yourself when you work from home. Many people have a tendency to overeat when they have a working kitchen and a fully stocked fridge next to their office. To avoid unintentional weight gain, stock your fridge with healthy options like lean meats, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and whole grains.
Let’s face it: While streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu are potentially the best inventions to hit the entertainment industry in years, they aren’t doing remote workers any favors. We have all felt the desire to turn on Netflix for some background noise. It seems oppressively quiet at times, so a little noise feels like just the thing your home office needs.
Unfortunately, a simple Netflix episode is like a potato chip. Most people can’t have just one. The new “Jack Reacher” or “Stranger Things” episode you turned on for background noises quickly becomes an engrossing, season-long saga.
It is already hard enough to separate your personal life and work-life when you work from home. You need to invest in good work goals and habits like sticking to a schedule. For a set amount of time each day, focus entirely on your work.
When those hours are up, you are done working. This kind of rigid schedule is useful because it forces you to be productive during your designated work hours. Plus, a work-from-home schedule also gives you the mental boost of having a clear end to your day.
If you absolutely need some noise in the background, try putting a few Spotify playlists together instead (during your off-hours, of course). As long as the music is fairly quiet in the background, it shouldn’t be too distracting. Avoid podcasts, television shows, audiobooks, or anything that demands more of your attention.
This is one of the worst work habits people develop when they work from home. If you want to get in a lot of good work each day and finish your projects, you can’t allow yourself to be interrupted every five minutes. At some point, you have to set a boundary between your personal and professional lives.
Anyone who has ever done any freelancing or telecommuting work knows exactly how hard this is. It sounds easy enough to set a schedule and start working from home. Then, your friends and family get involved.
As soon as people know you are working out of a home office, it seems like they are practically living at your house. This meme is funny, but it is also a glimpse behind the curtain of work-from-home life. Once you start doing remote work, people are going to constantly try to bother you.
For whatever reason, people seem to have the mistaken assumption you don’t have to do your work when you are a remote worker. Whether your friends stop by for lunch or bring their kids over because they needed a last-minute babysitter, they clearly don’t understand you are truly working. Each time someone interrupts your workday, it means you have to spend minutes or hours longer to get your project finished once they finally leave.
Luckily, there are a few healthy work habits you can adopt to fix the situation. Start by treating your work seriously and letting others know the same thing. If someone asks for you to watch their kids or help with something during the workday, tell them you can’t because you are working.
Even if people don’t understand, stay firm. Your work is just as important and serious as anything other people do. If you give in, you will be the person who is up until midnight because you didn’t get enough work done during the day.
You will be more efficient if you have a set deadline for finishing work. In addition, you deserve some leisure time, so make sure you’re not doing other things during your working time.
If your friends and family still don’t understand, turn off your cell phone and any app notifications while you are in the zone. You can always catch up with them later on. If you still can’t get your work done, you could always try renting a coworking desk for the day.
Another one of the examples of habits you should avoid is using a couch as a home office. You take yourself and your work seriously, so why would you pick such an unprofessional office space?
If you want to do your best work, you need to be able to focus. Though you also need to be comfortable, so make sure your desk chair is effective and ergonomic. A quick redesign of your workspace can help with both of these goals.
Start by choosing a designated workspace other than your bed or the couch. You don’t want the space to be somewhere you are used to sleeping or resting because your mind already connects these spaces to feelings of relaxation. Instead of accomplishing your next project, your mind will want to fall asleep.
Once you pick a spot to be your working space, use it every day. This helps you set boundaries around your work time and helps your mind develop the routine of focusing as soon as you are in your workspace.
While you want to have a designated area as your workspace, this area doesn’t have to be boring or rigid. You can design the space to be an area where you want to spend time. This may involve decorating the space with plants, artwork, photographs, or other things to brighten it up.
Your goal is to make your home office a comfortable place to be. If you enjoy being in your home office, it will make it easier for you to accomplish the tasks on your to-do list.
You should also remove any distractions like the television or social media sites to avoid wasting time and leading to temptation. Your workspace is entirely for work. If you can focus better in the office, you’ll be able to finish your workday and enjoy your leisure time much sooner.
There are a couple of reasons why you should consider wearing pants each day. To start with, there are practical reasons like checking the mail or answering the front door. But more importantly, there are psychological motivations behind doing this as well.
Wearing pants is one of those work habits like not working from bed. When you are in pajamas or your underwear, your mind automatically feels relaxed. If you are trying to get your work done, the last thing you want to do is be less focused.
On a practical level, wearing business casual or business clothes is simply a good idea. If your boss or a client asks for a video conference at the last minute, you don’t want to be fumbling around for a shirt. Even if you find a shirt in time, you could still be left struggling to stay seated, so your boss doesn’t notice the pajama pants underneath your business shirt.
Other than avoiding cringe-worthy, embarrassing incidents, good work goals and habits like wearing business attire are also useful for another reason. Wearing business clothes is a mental trigger to get to work. When you dress like you are ready to start your workday, your mind follows suit and prepares for getting down to business.
By adopting the right work habits when you telecommute and avoiding common pitfalls, you can make your remote work experience as successful as possible. Setting boundaries for your work time, wearing business attire, and setting up a home office are all things you can do to maximize your productivity. Getting some fresh air and eating healthy can also help you focus your mind and stay healthy while you work from home.
Telecommuting is an exciting opportunity and a way to maximize your freedom. With a few simple changes, you can get the most out of your work-from-home experience.
Learn more ways to be more productive by checking out the Teamweek blog!