Working from home has multiple benefits, right up to the moment when you face isolation and feel overworked. Working from home as a freelancer for several years, people usually ask me how do I keep myself happy and motivated? How do I keep doing everything according to my schedule and keep meeting all my deadlines?
How to be happy working from home? When working from home you have to be self-disciplined with your time, know exactly when to finish working, take multiple breaks during your working hours, put on something else other than your pajamas, make different social plans after work hours and block out all distractions and house chores.
Working from home at first is a thrilling experience and presents numerous perks from no more commuting and fuel costs, cubicles, distractions from your coworkers, and better work-life balance. But after a while, you face the fact that the responsibility is all yours and you have to be organized and self-motivated. No one is there to check on you during the workday.
The coworkers are the biggest distraction in a regular office by inviting you to lunch or making a conversation with you. While working in your home office, you won’t feel obligated to make unnecessary conversation with your coworkers. And if you feel the pressure of being all by yourself for most of the time, you can go and take your laptop to a cafe with a strong internet connection, or visit a coworking space, where you can find people with a mindset similar to yours. (We have written a related article - Working From Home Saves Me Thousands Every Year (10 Ways You Save Money When Working From Home))
Even though working from home offers great flexibility in terms of starting and finishing times, dress code, working on the couch, etc., your job still needs to be done in the most professional manner and deserves the same dedication as having a regular office job.
When working from home, you will get a feeling that you never finish your work, you will work more hours and even check up on your work during the weekends. For keeping yourself happy and your brain focused and sharp, you need to set up a few practices.
These twelve tips will help you in improving your productivity, efficiency and overall your happiness levels.
Setting up a proper home office is of utmost importance for successfully working from home. It will help you in having a proper work environment. If you don't have a separate room to be your office, you can set your desk at a specific area of the house, where you know you won’t be distracted. In this area, you should feel comfortable and secure. Don’t use your bedroom as your office, since you won’t be able to concentrate on the place where you actually sleep.
Your home office should have all of the necessary tools and equipment, planners, folders, desk lamp, everything that will get you a feel of a place where you need to do your work. Make sure to put everything you use most in close proximity to your desk, so you won’t lose valuable time getting up and getting pens, paper or something you have printed. You can even decorate your workplace so it would be much more appealing.
Make sure to have a proper desk and an ergonomic chair. A lot of people when starting to work from home are using their sofa as a workplace. Working from the sofa, among other things is very bad for your posture, and you will be less organized and less productive.
Dedicated office place will help you to turn on when you start working and turn off when you finish work.
Working from home means you are your own manager. You can be tempted to staying up late and waking up late, which will result in working until forever or procrastinating, and ultimately all of this will affect your productivity.
Make sure to establish the working hours as well as the breaks, so that you won’t become overwhelmed by working too many hours.
The morning commute is usually the thing that will wake you up for sure, but when working from home the commute from your bed to your desk is not very long. So in order to keep yourself happy, make sure you start your day early, set up your alarm, do some exercise or take a walk, get dressed - do everything that will prepare you for a workday.
Even though you have the freedom to start working later in the day, still you need to align your schedule with the needs of your clients and customers. Being available to them is very important for your success.
To keep your schedule, you need to plan your schedule when exactly you will do certain tasks. This way you will know exactly when you are the most productive to do the more complicated tasks. You can even use an online calendar to remind you when is time to shift to other tasks or to change the pace. This planning will help you to minimize the distractions and get the most out of your productive hours.
The most important key to your happiness is to know when to finish and close your laptop.
One of the most important benefits of working from home is that establishes a work-life balance. This might be true only if you are being careful and not being caught up in all of your tasks, that you might end up losing track of time.
Sometimes it can be very difficult to simply switch off from work when you still have deadlines, activities that need to be completed, etc. And you are thinking that if you work for several more hours, you will be able to take that load out of your mind and then relax.
You will keep saying things like, I’ll just work a few hours today, so I can be free on the weekend, or If I do this today, tomorrow I will finish earlier with work. But you will end up working every day for a few hours extra, and even you will check up on your work during the weekend.
Just like you don’t want to overeat or overdrink, you don’t want to overwork and burnout. It will affect your business relationship, your family and your whole life.
Of Course, sometimes you will need to work for a few extra hours but make sure you don’t turn that into a habit. Working from home can give you flexibility on how to modify your working hours according to your needs.
When working in a regular office, you will know exactly when you need to end the working day, since everyone around you will start packing their stuff. So make sure to set up an alarm that will remind you that your working day is coming to an end. You are not obligated to finish at that exact time, but if you know that your working day ended it will be easier to finish working for that day.
Working from home means that you are never off, so while making your schedule make sure to insert small breaks to get up from your desk, stretch, go out for fresh air, or even take a power nap (20 minutes). The change of scenery can help you feel better mentally and physically. Thinking about something else even for just a few minutes can improve your focus and concentration.
The hardest part while working from home is the isolation and the feeling of loneliness. Make plans with your friends and family to socialize after work or on the weekends. You can make plans for going to the movies, visit the gym or take a yoga class. This way you will be focused on your work, knowing that you will be socializing later.
If you choose to check up your social media accounts, make sure that you will spend only several minutes. Otherwise, you can spend precious time scrolling through the feeds.
Also, working from home doesn’t mean that you can’t communicate with other people using Skype or some other way of communication. Interacting with other people during the day will help you to keep your sanity.
There are numerous ways to go out of your home office for several hours per week and still get your job done. You can look for a coworking place nearby. Coworking places nowadays are very popular amongst digital nomads and freelancer. You get to meet different people and learn new stuff along the way.
Then you can go to a library, coffee shop, and other places that have a great Wifi connection. Your only rent will be the price of your favorite coffee.
Don’t leave your errands for the weekend. Instead, run small errands during your break on weekdays, so you can get out of the house, get fresh air and socialize.
First of all, make your bed and keep your home clean and tidy, it will help you start your day with positive thoughts. It will give you a feeling that the first task of the day is completed. Just because you are working from home alone, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to prepare yourself mentally for the upcoming tasks of the day.
Start off by doing all the things you would actually do if you were going to go to an actual office. Waking up early, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, getting dressed, having your coffee or breakfast, in the order that suits you the best.
If you decide that you want to stay in your pajamas all day, without getting showered, your brain will still think that you are in relaxed mode and not work mode, and you won’t be able to concentrate and be productive. The telecommuting should not be a reason for not being organized.
Just because you are telecommuting and working from home, doesn’t mean that you are at home and available to your family, roommates, spouses, etc. Make sure to inform them about your schedule and your working hours, so they can respect your working time and call you only when it’s urgent.
Working from home and having flexible time, doesn’t mean that you are available to grab a coffee with a friend at any time, to run errands, to babysit or that is okay for your friends to drop by in the middle of your working hours. You need to say no and stick to your own schedule since you still have to do your responsibilities and finish your tasks.
To minimize all occurring distractions make sure to do some planning well ahead, such as plan the activities of your children, have healthy snacks available, etc. Don’t let all house chores, such as dishwashing, laundry, and cleaning consume most of your productive hours.
Social media gives a vast range of opportunities, but at the same time is time-consuming. We are so addicted to using social media platforms, that is quite difficult not to check Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, even Pinterest.
In order to have bigger productivity, and or be tempted to have a social media break while working from home, you should set some boundaries, such as logging out of all accounts while working, removing the shortcuts from your bookmarks bar, or even using an Incognito browser window.
Working from home takes great discipline, so make your own schedule when to check up on those social media feeds, otherwise, you will need to work additional hours to compensate on the lost hours using these platforms.
Working from home means that you no longer have the support of the IT team. You need to know everything about the software and programs that are used, so you can resolve any arising issues. Also, you need to make sure to have a great Internet connection.
Then you need to have proper apps and tools for communication (Skype, instant messaging, video conferencing) that will allow you to be connected at all times with your coworkers and clients. Also, you can take advantage of many programs that will help you complete your tasks more easier.
Even though you are not present in the office, make sure that your managers are well informed about your activities and results, so you won’t feel like you are being cut off from some major operation in the office.
Working from home means that you have the freedom to match your playlists according to the energy of the project. Everyone has different taste of music, which affects the music that will define their workday. As an example, video game soundtracks or some other lyric-free music is best for keeping you focused and not getting distracted.
Even though working from home can be an informal environment, where you have the freedom do dress casually, you should keep all of your interactions with your clients professionally as much as you could. This way the clients won’t be doubting in the quality of your work.
Why do people use coworking places? Coworking places are an alternative way of remote working. Even though it might feel intimidating working with strangers, it is offering numerous perks, such as:
- An office full of goal-oriented professionals from different industries with similar mindset;
- Having a sense of collaboration, community, and learning;
- Office perks in terms of conference rooms, good coffee, ergonomic chairs, fast internet, etc.
- Networking opportunities are endless - you might end up meeting people that can help you in advancing your career;
- It is cost efficient and affordable since you can rent a desk or a private room, depending on your needs;
- Opportunity to socialize and get motivated by all enthusiastic people around you.
What are the highest paying jobs for working from home? There are a variety of high-paying jobs from different industries that don’t require working in an actual office but can be easily done working from home or some other remote location.
- Senior software developer/engineer, senior web developer;
- Senior medical editor/writer;
- Supervisory Attorney;
- Environmental Engineer (Civic engineer, Natural Sciences Engineer);
- Marketing/Sales Director’
- Finance Analyst, Financial Audit.
What are ergonomics in work from home office? When designing the work from the office, there are few things that need to be considered. Ergonomics are implemented in the workplace with the sole purpose of reducing the discomfort and work-related injuries, and with that increasing the levels of productivity and efficiency. (Check out our related article - 25 Desks Your Office Needs for Health & Wellness)
- The science of ergonomics is covering the following:
- The height of the monitor - whether the employee feel straining of the eyes at the end of the day;
- The height of the desk and chair - to be adjusted accordingly to the body type of the employees so it can prevent back injuries;
- Proper lighting.
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