If you’ve never done it before, working from home isn’t as simple as it might sound. Crying kids, messy spaces, and oh-so-tempting social media can make staying focused on work a real struggle.
With that said, distractions exist everywhere. Getting work done at home simply means managing a different set of them than it does at the office.
Whether you’re just working from home for a day or are in it for the long haul, get used to it: Remote work is here to stay. Here’s how to succeed when your home is also your workspace:
1. Embrace New Opportunities
One of the best parts of remote work is the sheer number of options. Whether you love to write or want to start your own home-based business, there’s a work-from-home opportunity for everyone.
Start by looking at job postings in your industry. You might find a position very close to the one you currently hold that can be done remotely.
What if you love the company you work for but not the commute or in-office risks? Ask your manager about a transition. Perhaps you can start by working one or two days at home, helping you overcome things like communication issues before making it an everyday arrangement.
2. Write Down Your Goals
Holding yourself accountable while working from home is tougher than it sounds. Other than you, who’s going to stop you from popping on Netflix during your writing time?
Don’t stop at silent promises to yourself. Put your goals on paper or, better yet, a whiteboard where you can see them. Simply writing goals down makes you 42% more likely to achieve them.
The good news is, there’s no “wrong” goal. Are you working from home to keep yourself and others safe from the virus? Perhaps it’s to spend more time with family, or to make room in your schedule for a side gig.
3. Get the Right Tools
Before committing to remote work, make sure you are fully equipped to work from home. Even if you have a computer-based job, it’s not the only tool you need: Do you have a dedicated space? Is your desk spacious enough? How comfortable is your chair?
Think beyond your physical equipment. How’s your Wi-Fi connection? If you’ll be part of a team, will you need Slack or another communication application? What about time-tracking software?
4. Find Your Groove
Working from home requires discipline, according to CNBC. While you get to enjoy flexibility, you still have a job to do and only so many hours in the day to complete it.
For work-life balance, develop a routine. Start by deciding whether you want the 9-to-5 lifestyle. Being online when your colleagues are can make teamwork easier, but you may have other considerations, like children. Perhaps working from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. suits you better.
Either way, it’s important to use morning and evening rituals to start and end your days. Something as simple as taking a walk as soon as you shut your computer can help you put work out of mind for the day. Experiment until you find the perfect formula for you.
5. Give Distractions the Boot
Even if you have a great routine and all the right equipment, distractions can still slay your productivity. When you’re working, you need an environment that makes focusing easy.
Electronics, messy rooms, and even your kids are all potential distractions that make working from home more difficult than it needs to be. Mitigate them without being rude or interrupting others who may be working or learning from home. Something as simple as a pair of noise-cancelling headphones can go a long way.
6. Reinforce Your Connections
Staying in touch with your community can be tough when you’re working from home. Many professionals underestimate just how important their in-office community is to their wellbeing.
With your team, enjoy the occasional virtual happy hour. While video conferencing is valuable, do still make time for periodic outings. Perhaps you could all go apple-picking this fall: The risk of viral transmission is lower outdoors, and who doesn’t enjoy a stroll through an apple orchard?
Just as important are your ties to your wider community. On the professional side, pick a virtual conference to attend once a quarter. Contact your city’s coordinator about virtual or outdoor volunteering opportunities.
7. Keep Tabs on Your Mental Health
Blame the pandemic, cabin fever, or the challenges of staying connected at home: Some people are prone to stress and depression when working from home. For others, working from home seems to stave off mental health issues.
Only you can judge how remote work affects your mental health. Try it for a few days before committing, if you can. If not, do what your mother says: Get plenty of exercise, eat right, and sleep well. And if things get out of hand, don’t be afraid to ask for professional help.
Working from home can be wonderful, but it has its challenges. Even remote-work pros struggle with things like distractions and loneliness. Still, give it a whirl: As long as you cover your bases, it can be a stress-free way to work.