Working from home sounds like a dream: no draining commute, no office, no annoying coworkers or small talk. But rolling out of your bed and up to your desk presents its own set of challenges. With no one to call you out on your slippers or your day-old hair, it may be tempting to slide into habits that aren’t good for you or your productivity. Here are tips to take advantage of the best parts of working from home, and keep yourself happy in the process.
1. Keep It Routine
To stay on top of a remote gig, treat the work as if it’s being done in an office. Establishing a routine and good habits promotes the discipline to put in the hours, and gives the feeling of putting in a good day’s work. Get a steady morning routine; coffee and shower, breakfast, real work clothes and maybe a touch of jewelry or makeup. It will help you resist the urge to crawl back to bed on a rainy Monday morning.
Designate a clean, organized area or room with good lighting, and get in the habit of only doing work there. Having a specific work space creates that work-life divide that can be so hard to juggle when you’re working ten steps from the couch. Keep non-work tasks to a minimum, or at least confined to breaks. The self control that each of these steps builds will help keep the work flowing, even if it is a hard day.
2. Keep It Healthy
Lack of exercise can be a challenge when working from home; there’s no walks to the coffee shop or the water cooler. The most important step to staying healthy is to drink lots of water, and be gentle on your body. Try to schedule your workday around your natural rhythm. Are you an early riser, or a night owl? As long as you’ve made yourself available during regular business hours, enjoy the flexibility.
Routine is the foundation of a productive work from home experience, so build some exercise into yours. Whether its yoga at home, a mid-day walk, or an evening exercise class, get some fresh air and get your body moving. Equally important to a healthy experience is knowing when to stop, which is where regular hours and small breaks help regulate the time spent at your desk. Emotional health is as important as physical; fresh air, good lighting, and motivational music can turn a gloomy day into a fabulously productive one.
3. Keep It Eco-Friendly
Working remotely is one of the most eco-friendly ways to work. There is no commute, no office, mostly digital communications. In your workspace it is possible to stretch this benefit even farther. Keeping the office paperless as possible, using digital bills and invoicing whenever possible minimizes clutter and paper use. Recycle all the paper you do use. It’s your space, so go wild with conservation. Keeping the shades closed and lights off in unused rooms conserves energy; composting is a next level step. One of the perks of an office-less existence is how much control you have over the day-to-day operations of your work.
While plugging away, keep in mind that electronics consume energy even when they aren’t being used. Invest in a grounded power strip, and turn off all those gadgets with a flick of a switch (while protecting yourself from power surges). To avoid paying high bills from all the time at home, keep the heat low and lights to a minimum. Take advantage of natural light, which is good for your body and your space. If you need an extra boost, get some greens to keep you company. Areca plants are low maintenance humidifiers, and variegated snake grass functions as an air purifier. Lemon balm, an easy plant to grow year round, is good for both your mood and your kitchen!
4. Keep It Organized
Structure is a huge help to getting the work done. Organization is a facet of this. Give yourself a place to write errant thoughts for later, so you don’t lose that brilliant idea or get stuck in a social media loop. Lists are invaluable tools to keep track of deadlines. Track your hours and progress, and submit invoices promptly. Saving all your work documents in a filing cabinet or expanded file will save you the hours of tracking down paperwork, and make taxes easier come spring.
Make sure you have all the tools your need, whether it is hardware from your employer or thumb drives for your files. If you have a tech-heavy job, as many freelance and remote workers do, be gentle with your hardware. Keep devices updated, back up your files regularly, and don’t leave electronics perpetually running. Computer batteries need rest too. Unplugged charging devices when the battery fills up save battery life and electricity. Keeping everything in a designated place saves your from hunting around the house for the phone charger, which has somehow ended up under the couch.
5. Keep It in Communication
No job is done in true isolation. Despite working from home, colleagues, coworkers and mentors are a valuable source of personal connection in a fairly lonesome set up. Make time for in-person meetings and work related events, and keep an open dialogue with whatever team backs you up. When you need something, from tech support to a clarification, speak up. Communication is keep to a functional digital workplace, through emails, instant messaging and phones. Being available to your coworkers and peers also allows for new and exciting projects to come your way!
Do you work from home? How do you keep yourself productive? Let me know in the comments!
Also by Haley: How to Start Your DIY Kitchen Garden
Related: 9 Ways to Workout At Your Desk
Illustration: Haley Houseman