Working at home sounds like a dream come true for most people. I have been working at home for several years now and I do love the convenience of it. However, I’ve heard from others that they were surprised at some of the challenges that it raises, too. You may save an hour from not having to commute, but the convenience of being surrounded by distractions can take up that extra time if you aren’t careful. Here are my top tips for keeping your sanity while working from home.
- Have a morning routine to help wake you up. I used to just try to walk out of the bedroom and sit down to work. I found that I was still only half-awake. Now I try to eat breakfast, get dressed, and take my dogs out before starting to work. It helps wake me up when I have a full morning routine.
- Set hours for your schedule. The ability to theoretically work at 11pm at night is really nice, but working late into the evening because you didn’t get enough done earlier in the day is not fun. Creating specific work hours helps me to ensure that I am not working right up until bed time.
- Create a weekly schedule. The freedom of not being required to do any task at any given time is nice. However, if I just wing it, I tend to put off my least favorite tasks for too long. I have a weekly schedule so I know what I am doing each Wednesday, for example. Plus, I have a scheduled time to do that task that I dislike so I can’t push it off to infinity.
- Limit visitors during work hours. When your friends and family members know that you’re home, they may think that means you can be their full time babysitter, or that they can stop over whenever they are free. If this becomes a frequent problem you may have to create boundaries to ensure that other people aren’t soaking up your work time!
- Limit distractions. Pay attention to whether having music or TV in the background helps or hurts your productivity. For me, having music playing to tune out outside noise helps, but TV can suck me in so I leave that off. Chewing gum can help me focus more too. Learn what works for you and do what you can to limit distractions and stay focused.
- Try to get back to work quickly after getting distracted. If someone important calls, it’s easy to then laze about a bit before jumping back to working. I try to be conscious of getting back to work as soon as possible after distractions occur so that I don’t fall further behind than is necessary.
- Reschedule when it’s too much. Yes, this is the opposite advice from #7! However, on days when there is just one thing after another being thrown at me, I just give up sometimes. I find a way to work that days to-do list into days in the future. I often do this when babysitting. I only babysit 1-2 days a month, so I don’t feel comfortable with making them entertain themselves for what little time I have them. On babysitting days, I just make up my mind to not bother trying to work while the kids are here.
- Track expenses and receipts. Whether you are a business owner, contracted employee or are a traditional employee who is working from home, your home-office related expenses will factor in somehow. If you work online, keep track of your internet bills, for example. I keep a ziploc where I store physical receipts, and an email folder where I store online receipts, so that they are easy to find at tax time.
Do you work from home? How do you avoid distractions and stay on track?
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