Remote work is on the rise and more and more people are demanding the option to work from home. Managers are often hesitant. They like to have their teams onsite, in part to be kept accountable. But if you can prove that you’re no slacker, it should be easier to get them to agree to let you work remotely.
The thing is, this is harder for some people than it sounds. Working from home takes a different kind of discipline and set of rules than working in an office. There’s no one watching, and it’s so easy to get distracted. Don’t let that happen.
Here are 10 rules for working from home that can keep you productive and successful.
1. Make your bed. Always make your bed. It gives you a sense of order and accomplishment with which to start your day, and creates a domino affect. This small accomplishment makes it easier to tackle the next task and the next one, even as they get bigger and bigger. Also, if you make your bed, you won’t be tempted to get back into it.
2. Put on clothes. You’ll feel better if you get dressed, brush your teeth, and prepare for the day. Remember that your work from home is just as important as your office work and you should treat it as such.
3. Set aside space for working. Use a home office and set it up like an office. If you don’t have a separate room to use as an office, create a space. Find a corner of the living room, the dining room table, the hallway, or whatever, and make a place designated specifically for work.
4. Separate work from domestic tasks. Don’t do housework while you’re on the work clock. And make sure your partner (or whoever you live with) takes you seriously on this one. When you work from home, the other people who live in your house often expect you to do things like clean, do laundry, and cook at the same time. Make it clear to them that this is the same work time you would be using while at the office and you are off the domestic chores clock.
5. Eat meals. A big issue about working from home is the tendency to wander into the kitchen and snack on random things. By 5 pm, you find you’ve eaten, like, a banana, six pickles, a leftover taco, half a bag of salt and vinegar chips and a popsicle, and drank seven cups of coffee – and you feel kind of weird. Instead, eat a normal breakfast in the morning and a normal lunch at lunchtime. If you’re a snacker keep healthy snacks on hand. You’ll fee better at the end of the day.
6. Make task lists and prioritize them. Make lists of what you need to get done, then prioritize them. Follow the list and check off items as you finish them This keeps you on track and gives you another sense of accomplishment. It’s an easy way to feel good about yourself.
7. Don’t have the TV on in the background. It can be tempting to have the TV on in the background when you’re supposed to be working. Don’t do it. Play non-distracting music if you like. Non-distracting means different things for different people.
8. Don’t take Netflix breaks. I actually think it’s fine to check social media from time to time. You can’t stare at work all the time. But limit your time and don’t start watching videos. If you can’t pull yourself away from distractions, then you’re going to have to avoid them altogether.
9. Take breaks. But do take breaks. Taking breaks makes you more productive by giving your mind a chance to replenish itself. Go out for a five minute breath of fresh air, stretch, eat your meals away from your desk. Watch Netflix…NO WAIT. Don’t watch Netflix. Do the other things.
10. Set office hours. A workaholic might work through to 11 pm, missing pretty much everything else in life. Or someone who has trouble applying themselves might feel working from home means they can start late and knock off early. Do neither of these things. Work your seven, eight, or 10 hours, whatever works for you, and then do your life. This keeps your work life balance in check.