Working from home can be a convenient experience that saves you both time and money, but it also has several downsides.
Whether you’re a freelancer, telecommuter or an entrepreneur who’s starting a new business, spending most of your time in a home environment can create several problems such as: inviting loneliness and isolation; impacting networking and business relationships; causing a significant decrease in creativity & productivity; taking a toll on your mental and especially physical health; and blurring boundaries between a personal & professional life.
So how does one avoid the above? There are some good habits that you can adopt:
Look after your physical health
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the main challenges that one faces when working from home. You tend to sit more often and for longer periods of time, overeat or eat unhealthily, and rarely get enough fresh air. Here are some things to try…
- Invest in a standing desk, which limits your “sitting down” time.
- Stick to a strict exercise routine; consider going to the gym every day, which also gets you outside the house.
- Take frequent “moving” breaks—after working for a certain period of time, get up, stretch and/or take a short walk outside.
- Be mindful of how you sit. Use posture aids to ensure that your back is straight and that your neck is not bent at an unnatural angle.
- If you have to spend most of the day sitting, change positions and location frequently.
- Don’t skip meals but at the same time, don’t be tempted to overeat due to the close proximity of the fridge. Have only healthy snacks at hand.
- When you’re ill, take a sick day—just like you would for a regular job.
Work around distractions & productivity slumps
Many of us avoid the 9–5 office job because we don’t want to feel restricted and chained to a desk. However, it’s important to set yourself regular work hours that fall within your time periods of highest productivity—whether that’s as soon as dawn breaks or well past midnight—so that you get maximum output. Some suggestions to get your mind on track…
- Before you start your work, create a checklist of tasks/project that you aim to get completed by the end of the day. This may give you a sense of urgency and help you prioritize your assignments.
- Prepare the ideal work environment; choose a spot or room that could serve as a home office and arrange the furniture/desk and lighting in a way that’s conducive to productivity.
- Eliminate distractions: close the door of the room in which you work, use noise-canceling headphones, and make sure the television is far, far away.
- One of the perks of staying at home is that you don’t have to dress up for the office; however, resist lounging around in your pajamas because this can affect your productivity and put you in a constantly lethargic state!
- Avoid social media sites, over-checking email, and websites that are unrelated to work by setting timers/reminders on your phone.
- Make sure that your family and friends (who want to drop by) are aware of your work schedule; set firm boundaries for the times that you don’t want to be disturbed (even by pets!)
Stay in touch with the outside world
One of the benefits of working outside your home space is that you see and talk to people every day, you make new business connections, and there are more networking opportunities available to you. But working from home doesn’t have to hinder your professional relationships…
- Keep in touch via Skype, Google Hangouts, and instant message apps. For managing projects and communicating with teams, use services like Basecamp and Trello.
- Set up face-to-face encounters with clients, like-minded entrepreneurs, team members, etc. Invite them for a lunch meeting, for example.
- Join professional networks online, such LinkedIn groups, where you can share insights and ask for advice about your related field.
- Attend local and/or international conferences that are relevant to your area of expertise. These are crucial for finding new contacts!
Do you work from home and if so, what best practices do you recommend?