At first glance, working from home sounds like a great idea:
- A few steps commuting to your office
- Set your own hours
- No distractions from other workers
- No noisy office environment
- Your workstation and office area are always available
- No colleagues interrupting you
- You can have your choice of background music playing
But is working from home all it’s cracked up to be?
And will it work for you?
Consider your temperament
Humans have evolved to interact with other humans.
But if you’re sitting at home, isolated from the rest of the world, children at school, partner out in a “real” job then it can get lonely.
Those interruptions from other people at work suddenly take on a new angle. They’re the difference between you talking to other people and just talking to yourself for 8 hours a day, maybe more.
Personally, if I’ve been paying too much attention to my computer screen and not enough to interacting with other people, I get tongue tied when I next get to speak to someone. Which, due to my relatively introverted nature means that a part of me fights against the idea of social situations and I tend to back away from meeting up with others. sending the whole thing into a downward spiral where less social interaction breeds even less social interaction.
If that’s your temparament – and if you prefer to feed off the energy of other people – then working from home may not be the best choice for you.
On the other hand, if you’re happy to be your own company for hours on end with just the flicker of the cursor on your screen to keep your focus, then the idea of upwards of a third of a day with no face to face human contact (give or take the occasional parcel delivery) could be your ideal.
If you’re not sure, see if your company will let you take a “test drive” with the occasional day, building up to more days.
Can you keep yourself on track?
Some people are more driven than others.
There’s a good chance that you’ll have at least a gut instinct about this.
But it’s a lot easier to distract yourself with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other sites and pretend that you’re working when really you’re just goofing off.
That’s fine if you keep those times to a few minutes here and there – much the same as if you’d taken a trip to the water cooler at the office.
But if they become the main focus of your work when you’re in your home office, that’s an issue.
And if you decide to take an hour off and watch daytime television rather than work on your project – maybe with the excuse that you need to break your state and chill and that you’ll put in the extra hours later in the day – that can be a problem.
Time keeping when you’re working from home isn’t the same as clocking in and clocking out from work.
Will you still eat healthily?
When we’re not being watched by other people, it’s easy to drift into bad habits with our diet.
That packet of biscuits that normally lasted at least 2 or 3 days vanishes in a morning.
The cans or bottles of soda in the kitchen get emptied at an alarming rate and your waistline starts to suffer.
Even the idea of exercise changes. If you drove to work, you still had to walk from the car to the building and there were more steps taken inside the office. Now, you maybe only move to get another cup of coffee or use the toilet.
Put a pedometer on your phone and keep daily track of the number of steps you take. They say what gets measured gets done and that applies to your health just as much as it does to your work.
Eating healthily and getting enough exercise will help keep you on track and being productive with the work you do from your home.
Keep on top of procrastination
Excuses are everywhere.
Most of us are good at them and have our own adult versions of the dog ate my homework excuses.
Procrastination is a big problem in most people’s lives.
And when you’re working from home it can get even more of a problem.
It’s easy to pretend that you were being productive – after all, you need time to research things and then you need time to gather your thoughts.
But when your “working” day consists of 7 hours procrastination and one hour answering emails, most of them explaining why you haven’t done all those tasks yet, then it’s time to get on top of things.
Working from home opens up all sorts of extra avenues for procrastination to seep into your life.
I quite like the Pomodoro technique – 25 minutes of work (with no excuses) followed by 5 minutes of R&R, then repeat. After four of those cycles, have a longer break.
Try it – you’ll be amazed at how much more you get done and how procrastination is kept at bay.
Separate work from family
Quite often our families have difficulty understanding the difference between home and work space when they’re all in the same building.
After all, your new office or study used to be just another room in the house before you decided to work from home.
Short of putting up a “keep out” or “do not disturb” sign, how can you keep your work life and family life boundaries as actual boundaries?
And how can you stop yourself from just popping back to the office when the commute is just a few seconds?
That’s another snag that’s not always mentioned when you decide to work from home – you can become a workaholic and every waking hour that you’re not eating can be spent doing work.
That happens a lot with entrepreneurs – the distinction between day and night or weekdays and weekends blurs.
Set up some boundaries.
Maybe even those stroppy signs until the other people in your home get used to the idea that you’re working when you’re in your den or office.
Consider making an effort to go to work
Maybe part of the attraction of working from home is the idea that you don’t have to get dressed for the part.
You can sit in front of your computer, at work, in your dressing gown or pajamas. Or even less if you want – there’s no-one else in your home office who’d be offended and the video conference call doesn’t have to show much more than your face (although you’ll still need to tidy your hair if you’re going to be on camera).
But our minds are weird things.
If you’ve dressed down, your mind may decide that the work you’re doing isn’t serious.
So it could be that making an extra effort makes a real difference in your productivity.
Some people find that putting on their smartest work attire – even when they’re the only person who’ll notice it – makes a massive difference.
So if you find yourself lagging when you’re working from your home office, consider dressing for success.
Mindset has a powerful influence on what we do.
Increasing your productivity when you’re working from home is often a matter of lots of small, seemingly insignificant, things that build up to make a powerful end result.
If you need help getting your mind on board, check out this hypnosis track to help you be more productive when you’re working from home.