If you’re stuck working from home because of a snowstorm, a telecommuting initiative within your company, or any other unexpected situation, you might find concentrating to be a lot more difficult if you haven’t done it before. Distractions surround you at home. You’ll find yourself feeling like it’s not a real workday, given that your home is probably where you wind down from work. But you have things to do, and deadlines to hit, so here are a few tips on how to make the most of working from home.
Set up a workstation
For people who aren’t used to working from home, we absolutely recommend avoiding the couch. Instead, set up a workstation in a place where you don’t normally hang out while at home to avoid falling into a distraction. This can be your dining room table, a guest bedroom, or even your kitchen counter. Avoid the spots in your house that you associate with relaxation time. Your resulting work space should be an area that’s relatively empty of unproductive influences. By avoiding the TV, the couch, or your bed, you can get yourself in the zone just like you would in the office.
Set aside everything you need
The easiest way to expose yourself to distractions when working at home? Having to constantly get up to find something. You’ll end up walking by family members, your TV, a pet, or any other source of distraction, which will knock you out of your working mood. Worse, you could run into an errand you’ve been meaning to get to, like paying bills or booking a flight -- save that for later! Instead, set everything you need down at your workstation before you sit down to work. This includes your laptop, charger, notebook, pens, office supplies, a cup of coffee, a water bottle, and anything else you may need.
Instead of spending the day working in your most comfortable clothes, dress as though you’re going to work (or casual friday, if your usual work attire is pretty rigid). This promotes a positive and productive attitude by simulating the feeling of being out with the rest of the working world, even though you’re not. If you’re in pajamas or sweatpants all day, you’re mentally primed for the feeling of being at home, which creates an unproductive state of mind. Instead, wake up on time, hop in the shower, and get to business.
Keep to your normal schedule
Even if you know the night before that you’ll be working from home, wake up at the same time you normally do that morning, and go through the same routine. The same breakfast, the same email pattern, and the same meetings (virtually) give you the acceleration you get every day at work and an acceleration you need when working in a house of distraction.
Working from home for long stretches can cause you to be more sedentary. After all, you probably walk around a lot more than you think you do while at work. To keep active at home, schedule time for one or two quick breaks during the day where you can get out for a walk. Keep to the amount of time you schedule for yourself and don’t go over, but make sure you let yourself take the same sort of mental rest you would from the office. Some folks overwork when working from home because they don’t have familiar cues of breaks, office chatter, or ends to the day. Avoid stress and burnout caused by this pattern.
PS. Consider working while standing. You can do this by placing your laptop on a high counter or on a sturdy box. It gets blood flowing through your body and alerts your mind.
Work somewhere else
If none of the above helps you stay productive, then consider getting away from the distractions in your house entirely. Take your laptop and everything you need and go to a local library, bookstore, or coffee shop. Set up roots in a comfortable place, whether that’s the hustle and bustle in the middle of a cafe or the quiet corner of a coworking space, and start working. This will help you keep the divide between your personal home space and your work space if that’s something you prioritize. Just make sure you scout out the location ahead of time to ensure a good WiFi connection and available seating.
A work-from-home day doesn’t have to be a lost productivity day. It only requires the right mindset and the right environment, both of which are entirely in your control.