Because of what’s happening in the world at the moment, there are going to be more people working from home than there ever have been in the past. For some of those people this will be a familiar experience, or one that they’ve had at least a few times in the past. For others, it will be totally new to them, and they might struggle with it in ways that they never imagined were possible. As anyone who’s ever worked from home for a prolonged period of time will tell you, it’s harder than it looks, and it’s not for everybody.
If you’re a new fill time or temporary home worker, you fortunately have the past experiences of other people to fall back on for advice. More than five percent of American citizens worked from home full-time last year, which might not sound like a lot, but it’s actually more than eight million people. Those eight million people – along with their counterparts around the world – have come up with some basic advice about what not to do and what not to do when you’re working from home, and we’re happy to pass that advice on to you here. It’s never been more relevant!
Your commute to work in the morning might be long or short. It might take you two hours, or it might take you twenty minutes. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is that it’s a lot longer than the journey from your bed to your home office or wherever you’re doing your work from. That makes it tempting to take another hour in bed or to get up ten minutes before you need to start work. That’s a terrible idea. Having a reliable schedule when you’re working from home is absolutely vital. You may not realize it, but you’ve trained your brain to wake up at a certain time through years of experience working your regular job. Mess with that schedule, and you’ll find that you’ve messed with your entire sleep cycle. Before you know it, you’ll be nocturnal, and that’s no good to you or your employer.
Background Noise Is Overrated
One of the biggest temptations when you’re working from home is to turn on the television or the radio. You’re probably used to the background noise of chat and movement that comes with working in an office, so working in total silence can feel like a shock – especially if you live alone, and there’s no noise at all other than your fingers on your keyboard or the phone calls you make or take. You might feel inclined to turn the television or radio on just to make the situation feel less intense. Don’t. You’re bound to become distracted by something that appears on the television, and you’ll lose time trying to find the perfect radio station to accompany your day. That’s not to mention the fact that it seems unprofessional when someone phones you. You’ll be able to concentrate better in the quiet.
Lock Down Unnecessary Websites
You’re at home. Nobody is looking over your shoulder. That means you can spend all the time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Amazon that you want to. While that might be true, you shouldn’t do it. It’s the enemy of productivity. Even the most strong-willed of us struggle with temptation occasionally, though, so it would be better to configure your browser to block certain websites during working hours to take the matter out of your hands. Don’t just think about social media sites, either. If, for example, you have an online slots habit, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t have access to your favorite online slots like Bonanza during business hours either. Save your social media or online slots time for later on, and award it to yourself as a treat for finishing your work. It will help to keep you motivated.
Keep Your Phone At Arm’s Length
If your mobile phone is essential to your work, this advice can be ignored, but if it isn’t, don’t have the device anywhere near you. It’s only going to become a distraction. If you wouldn’t be allowed to use your mobile phone while you were in the office, don’t have it at home. Phones light up, vibrate, and otherwise distract us all the time with their various notifications, and if something appears, it’s an instinctive reaction to stop what you’re doing and look at it. If you have it out of easy reach – and ideally facing down so you can’t see the screen – this temptation won’t exist. Do yourself a favor and put it somewhere you can’t easily see it. You’ll get a lot more work done.
Stop When You’re Supposed To Stop
The biggest problem that comes with working from home is that nobody kicks you out of the office when the day is over, and nor do you get nudged into stopping work by the fact that everyone else is packing up and going home. If a task isn’t quite finished, you might find yourself tempted to spend an extra half hour or hour getting it done. That’s very noble and committed of you, but you’ll be doing yourself harm in several ways. Once you’ve worked an extra hour, the idea of working an extra half hour again the following night doesn’t seem so bad. Your employer will notice that you’re getting through more work than usual, and so they’ll come to expect it from you. You’ll trap yourself into working later and later into the evening, and soon you’ll have no leisure time whatsoever. Whatever time you’d normally finish in the office, finish working at home. Close the laptop and walk away. Everything can wait until tomorrow.
On top of all the above five pieces of advice, take regular breaks, and make sure you’re communicating with people. Working alone can get very lonely after a while, and none of us who’ve recently been sent home to work for the very first time know when we might be able to come back yet. Send out messages, check up on colleagues who are in the same boat at you, and keep your focus. You can do it!