I’ve worked from home in three very different capacities. One, as an employee where I worked from the company office about once per week. Two, as an educator preparing for on-campus classes since I don’t have my own classroom and while teaching online classes for the same College. Three, as a writer for both print and online content, working for myself.
The common denominator here is the working from home factor. It certainly has its perks and flexibility but, working from home can cause problems if you aren’t careful! Here are five tips to avoid common “work from home traps”.
1. Pajamas! Just because you CAN wear pajamas all day doesn’t mean you SHOULD! Trust me, you will feel much better and actually be more productive if you get up, shower, brush your hair and teeth and get dressed as you would if you were leaving the house.
2. Schedule! When I worked for a Public Relations Measurement company, I was beyond busy. There were literally three occasions that I pulled two straight all-nighters to meet a deadline or finish an urgent quick turnaround project. I saw the sun go down, come up, go down and come back up before I finally went down with it! There were times that the only reason I left my laptop was to use the restroom or fix my family a very quick dinner. I fell into a trap where my work didn’t have any separation from my home life. I was literally fitting my home life into my work schedule and any downtime I had was spent working anyway. Set a clear schedule just as if you were going to an office with routine start and end times and try to stick very closely to that schedule.
3. Office! Please don’t be overconfident! You can’t focus on your work in the middle of the family room with kids, significant others and pets running around, TV’s blaring and phones ringing. Give your work the attention that it deserves. Make work time count and do yourself a favor; pick a room or at least a semi-private area within a room to work from all the time. You will find this practice to be beneficial in both helping to keep yourself organized and also keeping work physically as well as mentally separate from home.
4. Food! The truth is, if you work from home, you have full access to your cupboards and refrigerator. When you work outside the home you are limited to only what you bring to work with you. Between the fear of others’ perception of what you eat and your inner desire to not over eat, you are more likely to bring smaller portion sizes and healthier choices to work. This means working at home can be a temptation that you will want to keep in check. How do I know this? I fell into the trap. And gained a LOT of weight while working from home. Remember, walking to your home office from your bedroom is also much less exercise than getting out to your car, parking, walking into your building to your destination and then the reverse at the end of the day. So, not only are you more tempted to snack, you are getting less exercise during the day. Perhaps schedule in a walk or some other form of exercise each day and try to limit snacking and reduce temptation with healthy choices!
5. Social! Working from home, alone. Depending on the nature of your work, you could fall into the social trap. Or, lack there of. Remember to maintain healthy social relationships with friends, colleagues, peers, Etc., to avoid feeling alone. The one thing you miss out on (or secretly enjoy?) is the lack of social interaction we get when we work outside of the home.