How To (Effectively) Work From Home

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So many of us are spending an increasing amount of our working lives outside the office. Though it is most common for self-employed folk like myself, it’s great to see that more and more employers are seeing the possibilities that working from home opens up.

Before I began, I was convinced that working from home was the dream: hitting up emails from the comfort of my own bed sounded like the ultimate office experience. Initially, I was giddy on the excitement of doing so, but I quickly learned that there can be almost as many challenges as in a typical workplace, if not managed effectively.

Over the last four years I have absolutely learned the hard way that working from home can disrupt your work-life balances here are my tips to help keep yours in check…

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START YOUR DAY WITH A “COMMUTE”

If I am able to, I always start a day working from home with a walk or run. I find “changing modes” from home to work can be really challenging without getting out the house and refreshing my head, plus I often feel cooped up without a little fresh air at the beginning of my working day. Your commute might just be a stroll around the block, rather than a jog or longer walk, but I definitely recommend considering it as a way to start the day from a fresher headspace.

DRESS FOR THE OCCASION

I know that working in your slacks might sound like the best idea in the history of all time, but I’ve found that it doesn’t help me feel focused and ready to get my head down. I’d recommend wearing what you would typically wear to work in and doing your hair and makeup similarly to whatever is normal to you, if you normally apply makeup when leaving the house. This means you can get changed at the end of the day, helping to mark that you’re ready to relax; it also keeps me in a more productive mood, rather than confusing my body with signals to both relax and work at the same time.

HAVE A DEDICATED WORKSPACE…

…AKA, don’t work in bed. Please. If you take away one thing from this post, please let it be this. You need to ensure that your bedroom remains a place dedicated to rest and relaxation; good sleep hygiene is all about priming the body to pick up signals of when bedtime is imminent, but expanding your bedroom into a workspace makes it more challenging for your brain to recognise your bedroom is a place to unwind. I’d recommend picking a part of your home that you can close the door to and feel a little closed off from your normal home life. We don’t have an office in our apartment, but I’m more than happy to work in our dining room, which is very quiet and lends itself best to getting work done.

TAKE PROPER BREAKS

I try and make the most of my breaks during the day. Working from home usually means I’m not going to be interacting with as many folks as I would elsewhere, so if I can schedule a lunchtime phone call with a bud I will do, or a tea break call with a fellow freelance friend. I try to avoid eating at my desk if I can, so that I feel less chained to my laptop and nothing else, and I use the Mac-friendly app Be Focused (it’s on the App Store for mobile too) that lets me schedule the periods I want to work, and the breaks that I want to take in between. When I started out working from home I used to be convinced I had to keep going all day long, but I’ve since learned this is a hindrance and not a help!

GET SOME YIN TO YOUR YANG

I used to work regularly from coffee shops, to switch things up when I needed to. There’s something about being in a bustling space that can help stimulate us into feeling the urge to get going, plus you’ll be getting those all too value social interactions as well! I’m now a member of a co-working space that I love; I can pay for the days that I need to be out of the house (usually about two a week) and use this to balance my time at home; as an extroverted introvert, I know that I need some time to be solo as well as days getting my social on. It means I really appreciate and make the most of both options, and has introduced me to loads of lovely folks running their own businesses too.

Are you lucky enough to be working from home too? I would love to hear what has been working for you!