When you office out of your home, everything from hygiene habits to work/life balance changes. One of the greatest benefits that comes from working out of your home is increased flexibility. No one is staring at their watch waiting for you to walk through the door in the morning or return from your lunch break. Because of this, it’s necessary to have strong self-awareness to keep yourself on track and avoid potentially counterproductive behaviors. Make the most of working from home with these three tips.
#1 JUMP START MORNINGS
Working out of your home means you can wake up and walk merely a few steps to be “at work.” As a result, changing out of your pj’s, taking a shower, etc. becomes more optional than mandatory. There’s a lot to be said for rolling out of bed and starting work two hours earlier than you would have been able to if you were getting ready and commuting to an off-site office. You can get a jump-start on the day with two extra hours of productivity before emails start flying and the phone starts ringing off the hook. Fully leveraging this time gives you an incredible advantage. Use this time without interruption to focus on the tasks that are the highest and best use of your time for the day. Work on important projects that move you ahead and get you closer to reaching your goals. Then, when the rest of the world is firing up email and daily meetings begin, you’re one step ahead of everyone else.
#2 LEAVE WORK IN THE EVENING
The flip side of the same coin is that with the ability to be “at work” really any time of day or night, it can be difficult to turn it off. To shut down the computer, close the door and say “that was a good day’s work. Until tomorrow…” This is a habit that needs to be enforced and reinforced. Working around the clock because work is accessible will put you on the quick road to burnout and exhaustion. Decide on a quitting time and quit. Since this is much easier said than down, try creating a new habit of quitting by tagging it onto an already existing habit – say, picking up the kids from daycare at 4 pm. You wouldn’t miss a daycare pickup because that means added expense and stranded children. The habit to leave at 4 pm for daycare already exists. So add onto that the new habit of shutting down for the day. Practice it until it becomes second nature. And know that work will be there for you in the morning when you fire back up.
#3 TAKE BREAKS THAT MAKE SENSE
Working from home brings with it much more flexibility to take breaks during the course of the day, to run the occasional errand when streets and stores are empty, catch your favorite gym class, or complete the occasional chore around the house. This is an incredible benefit and when managed appropriately, can increase your overall productivity. Take grocery shopping for example. When the store is packed with 9 to 5ers on Sunday afternoon, cramming shopping into their already hectic weekend, you can be enjoying family time doing something fun, because you took care of the grocery shopping Tuesday afternoon. Pat yourself on the back! For more tips on maximizing time while running errands, see here.
The danger is getting caught up in the “break” times and putting work off and off until you find yourself working late into the night. You are no good to anyone in your life if you are not prioritizing a good night’s sleep. Planning your week with intention and setting limits for breaks is the solution. Schedule appointments, errands, etc. ahead of time as much as possible and hold yourself to a time limit. If your favorite yoga teacher teaches a 1 pm class on Wednesdays, block that time on your calendar and shift your work hours to accommodate. Can you start early or end late on Wednesdays to have the time you need to get work done and to enjoy yoga? You don’t want to be stressing during yoga about not being able to get everything done because you didn’t plan accordingly. With this careful planning, and holding yourself to time limits, you can make the most of your weekday breaks.
We’d love to hear about how you maximize the flexibility of working from home in the comments section below. What tips and tricks have you incorporated into your workdays? And if you work from home and struggle to stay productive or create work boundaries, Simpler Surroundings has experts available to help!