Working from home may seem glamorous compared to an in-office job, but it’s not as easy at it looks. For starters, distractions come more frequently, such as the temptation to throw a load of laundry in the wash before you sit in on a conference call or giving a long belly rub to that cat or dog who is begging for attention at your feet. And for those with a strong work ethic, they may find it hard to differentiate between the realms of work and home because quitting time isn’t as clear-cut when you are only a room away from your pile of projects.
Here are some ways to create a balance between enjoying the comfort of working from home and maintaining the same productivity that you can expect if grinding away at a traditional office.
Create a specific office space
Having an area designated as “work only” is very important. If you don’t have a separate room that can be used as an office, a desk in a rarely used room can work just as well. This will diminish the possibilities of distractions. Once the work day is over, leave your “office space,” both physically and mentally, until you return the next day.
Keep track of your work
Holding yourself accountable will boost your productivity levels. Keep a list of what you accomplish and track the amount of time each task took to finish. At the end of the week, you can see if you were as productive as you thought and help identify if there is room for improvement.
Get into a routine
The flexibility of working from home may tempt you to sleep in or borrow time for errands while on the clock, but that will only create a backlog for your workload. Getting in a regular routine will prevent work from encroaching on family and/or relaxing time and help you stay focused so you don’t rush to finish a project or meet a deadline.
Dress the part
Because no one is there to see you, you might be tempted to stay in your pajamas, but overly casual attire can lead to a casual work attitude. Office-appropriate clothes can help you feel more professional and thereby act the part as well. Plus, you’ll be prepared should you transition to a more traditional office environment in the future.
Take advantage of break time
Just like with any office job, breaks are necessary to keep production and morale at an optimal level. This need doesn’t change with people who work at home, but the type of breaks might be different. For example, when you work at home, you have more freedom to meet friends for lunch, catch up with your sister on the phone, take the dog out for a walk or watch TV. With greater freedom, though, comes greater responsibility. Make sure that break time doesn’t turn into a two-hour trip to the grocery store or a leisurely nap on the couch. No one might ever know, but you will be the one to suffer the consequences if you fall behind.