Working from home. It is a relatively new phenomenon that is increasing in popularity, according to the New York Times. You could work full-time for a company remotely, or you could be an independent contractor, either way, your office is your home. That’s great! But is it?
The advantages of working from home are many, including autonomy, which is second only to flexibility (or is it vice versa, probably depends on your personality). But you also save on transportation costs and other financial expenses. Plus, the pot of coffee is all yours. You don’t have a boss looming over your shoulder all day. And if you are a good multi-tasker, then all the better: house chores can be accomplished at intervals throughout the day. You set the dress code. You set the pace and tone. You set your day into motion.
But therein lies the problem: you.
When you start an at-home job absent the right mindset to work productively and effectively at home, then you will encounter problems. No doubt about it. Even with the latest technological advances to keep you linked to colleagues in offices, it is still a difficult process. Distractions. Distractions. Distractions. Need I say more? There is, however, a way to overcome it: you’re mindset.
Below are some best at home practices to keep in mind, then some tips to put those practices into motion, and thus, put your work day into motion.
Best Practices to Prepare Your Mind for Work-At-Home
- Time Management. Time management means self-discipline, and this can get tricky for many of us. Managing your time is always a difficult task, but if you work from home, it can be more problematic. There are a lot of distractions that can divert your mind from work. House chores were already mentioned. Access to a TV, even the refrigerator or a nearby bed can be distracting. You should set specific hours for work during the day. The nice thing about being at home is you don’t have to work four full hours at a time before taking a break. You can work in smaller increments, which is actually more productive, and then use other time to address those distractions. If you have small children, plan work-hours around their schedule, including their naps. Setting specific hours aside means when time is up: it’s up. Set an alarm on your phone, and once you hear the bell, it’s time to change course.
- Dedicated Work Space. Find your corner or, if you have it, your own room for an office at home. Try to emulate a true work space complete with files, relevant books, printer, or whatever else you might need or expect if you were in an office. For some of you, it may simply be just your computer, but for many of you, you’ll want the “feel” of an office space. Even on off-hours, you want to respect this space as your work space, not turn it into a multi-use place after you complete an assignment.
- Dress for Success. Really what you wear can be your mindset breaker. There are two things happening here: (1) you; and (2) other people. If you don’t dress like you are going to work — albeit you can skip the suit but wear comfortable business casual clothes — then you prepare your mind for slouchiness, not work-mode. Sweatpants are for off-hours; business casual is for work-hours. Dressing for success also induces a feeling of success; it makes you feel good about yourself, and that’s priceless today. At the same time, if you stick to an ultra-casual appearance, it also influences others’ perspectives of you. Some people don’t take work-at-home seriously in the first place. They have the impression that you are not really working, but primarily napping and watching TV and only sporadically working. If they see you wearing sweatpants, that feeds this impression.
Remember: even though you work at home, you are still a professional and must behave as one, or else productivity will begin to wane and frustration will accumulate into stress.
Tips to Make Work-At-Home Actually Work
- Take a walk. That’s right, get up in the morning, and do your thing, whether it is making breakfast for children, yourself, a partner. Complete the routine and then, once you are dressed for work, go on a walk. This can be symbolic of you leaving the house, your domestic life, and then returning to your “office.” You use this time to plan your day in your head and prepare yourself mentally for work. And get a little exercise, too.
- Get organized and motivated. Make sure your work space is well-organized and not cluttered. If there are tasks that you can transform into a “system,” so that less time is needed on them, that works in your favor, too. Purchase a visible desk or wall calendar so deadlines and goals are constantly visible. Finally, keep a motivational picture or quote in a visible spot to remind you that you are a professional and you are good at what you do.
- Rent clothes. That’s right: you can rent clothes. You thought you could save money by wearing yoga pants all day and all week, but lounge-wear creates a mood that is simply too relaxed than what productivity demands. To continue to stick to a budget, you can rent clothes, and business casual clothes at that. At Gwynnie Bee, you have a lot of options, from business casual to business attire you can wear to dinner. You don’t need a suit, just something professional, yet comfortable. And you can find it at Gwynnie Bee. There is also an added benefit of renting clothes: a new wardrobe at your fingertips whenever you want it (and not just for work, but for work and play).
Working at home is great and can be very productive. In fact, according to a Stanford study, those who work at home are 13% more productive, so long as you have the right mindset to do it. More productivity with the added benefit of more time at home, with family and friends, that is a work-life balance to make us happy. So, remember: Set firm work hours. Dedicate specific space. And don’t forget to dress for success.