Five Ways to Ensure Working from Home Works for You

While working from home is for many a dream, it also carries the risk of reduced productivity. A home, unlike an office, is not designed to foster focus and efficiency, meaning telecommuters can struggle to stay on task. Telecommuters must learn to compartmentalize work and personal time, maintaining a valuable division between the two. This article provides five practical ways telecommuters can improve productivity and ensure their experience working at home is a positive one.

Working from home is ideal for many office workers. They dream of the increased freedom and flexibility that telecommuting promises. That dream, however, can turn into a nightmare quickly if telecommuting damages productivity and efficiency. Unfortunately, this can easily happen to those who attempt the switch. The problem is that while workplaces are organized to maximize productivity and encourage focus, a home is normally oriented toward relaxation, not work.

A negative result, however, is not inevitable. The transition may be difficult, but with effort and a little time you can accomplish as much or more working from home as you did in the office. The key is to learn to compartmentalize between work and personal life, even though the two are no longer separate in terms of location, the compartmentalization will now then be more on your state of mind, rather than a place. Here are five of the best methods to boost your productivity, focus, and quality of life while working from home.

1. Work on a (mostly) regular schedule. While flexible hours are one of the attractions of telecommuting, a disciplined schedule where certain hours are designated as work time will help you stay focused. It is too easy to allow your concentration to wander without a set schedule. Procrastination can be a big problem for people working from home. Choose a steady, regular work schedule. Maybe if an urgent matter or opportunity arises, then go ahead and deviate from your normal plan it would be foolish to never take advantage of your new independence but otherwise exercise self-restraint.

A strict schedule can also help alleviate the feeling that your work life is invading your time off. Since the place where you relax and unwind is now also your workplace, you may feel stressed and harried by your duties at all times. Keeping a routine will help to maintain the mental barrier between work and personal life.

2. Work in the same place at home. Again, just because you're at home doesn't mean you should eschew division between your job and personal life. Reserve one area for work; don't spend significant time there when you are off-duty. It will be much easier to focus if your workspace is strongly associated with your work in your mind. Over time the force of habit will further increase your productivity in that spot. This tactic will help you to bolster the self-discipline necessary for successful telecommuting.

3. Organize your workspace as if you are in a professional setting. The area in which you work should be ordered and as free from distraction as possible. Don't try to do your job from a recliner, your bed, or other places not conducive to work. Ideally, you will work in a quiet room, at a desk, sitting in a comfortable, ergonomic chair. Free your workspace of any minor knickknacks, or anything that might break your concentration.

4. Make certain that other people respect the divisions between your work and personal life. Set the boundaries with the people you live with. They may think that you are now always able to spend time with them but their intrusions will put a huge damper on your productivity.

Make clear that though telecommuting has given you some added flexibility and autonomy, that doesn't mean you are always free. A similar, if the reverse, principle will apply to your employers. Your superiors may think of you as being available at all times (especially if you don't keep to a regular schedule), since you are always at your workplace. Make clear that you can't be always be called upon, and that you need space for your personal life.

5. Spend time outside of your home. If you never leave your house, you will find yourself feeling unhappy and bored. Anyone will become dissatisfied if they are in the exact same place, day after day.

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