To those who toil away in a cubicle for 40+ hours a week, few things sound better than being able to work from your apartment (except for maybe an extended beach vacation or early retirement). But working from the comfort of your own living room can be challenging, especially if you’ve never done it before.
Here are some tips for making sure you’re just as productive at home as you would be at the office:
- Get ready every morning: You may not have to put on a suit and tie or high heels to work at home, but resist the temptation to stay in your PJs all day. Set your alarm, eat breakfast, shower and go through your regular morning routine. This will get you in the mindset that you are going to work and not taking a sick day. Bonus: That time you used to spend commuting can now be used for a little extra sleep!
- Create an office space: Whether it’s a guest bedroom, kitchen table or just a desk in your bedroom, set aside a space used exclusively for work. Although your couch or bed may beckon, use them only for breaks and not for work time. Invest in a comfortable desk chair and make sure you have all the necessary supplies on hand, including a printer, highlighters, post-its and whatever else you’d keep by your desk at your real office.
- Turn off distractions: Working from home is not the time to get into a new soap opera or catch up on last week’s episode of Breaking Bad. It’s also not the time to do the dishes, take out the trash or take the dog to the park. Remind yourself that you are at work, and even though the PlayStation is in the next room, if you wouldn’t use it at the office, it’s off limits during work hours.
- Check in often: Unless you work for yourself, chances are you have a boss somewhere that expects you to stay on task without having to drop by unannounced to make sure you’re not at the grocery store. Copy your boss on any relevant emails, set up daily or weekly status calls, and always have your phone nearby.
- Set up in-person meetings: One of the things people miss most when switching from office life to working at home is human interaction. If you have a phone meeting that could be done in person, why not make the trip to their office? Lunch dates with friends who work or live nearby are also a good way to make sure you don’t turn into a complete hermit.
- Sign off at 5: When not on an office schedule, it’s easy to lose track of time and keep working through lunch and dinner, then start again as soon as you get out of bed the next morning. Try to stay on normal office hours and sign off whenever you’d usually leave to go home.
Follow these tips and you’ll be just as productive at home as you were at the office, without the awkward water-cooler conversations and rage-inducing commute.