For millions of working people, work from home is a daily reality. For others, it can be a temporary necessity caused by unforeseen events, such as natural disasters, transportation problems or other issues. Many people love the freedom and autonomy of working from home, while others find it stressful to be cut off from their offices and their peers. For those people, the lack of structure and support can cause anxiety and a feeling of being out of touch and unmotivated. Whether it’s a temporary period of telecommuting or a full-time gig, there are ways to make working from home a stress-free and productive experience.
One of the biggest complaints people have about working from home is lack of motivation. Once you realize no-one’s micromanaging your time, it becomes all too easy to slack off. Household chores beckon, the phone rings or a child is home sick. It’s hard to stay on task with no supervision and tons of distractions. Here are a few tips
that can help.
Start Your Workday with a Routine
Because there’s no commute or trip to the office break room, people who work from home have a much less dramatic transition from home life to work life. To get into a working mindset, it helps to have a routine that will help create a transition into the workday. It can be as small as getting a cup of tea and sitting in a certain chair. Whatever it is, it should be done the same way to start each workday.
Get Dressed for Work
Though one of the great benefits of working from home is that clothing is “optional,” getting dressed will help create a working mindset. The subconscious mind equates being dressed with being productive. It doesn’t matter what you wear, but it’s probably a good idea to ditch the sweats and pajamas and put on something you wouldn’t mind being seen in.
Create a Schedule
Keeping track of your time is a great way to stay motivated. Start by posting a schedule on the wall near your workspace listing work hours and non-work hours. Setting aside a certain time period for work, with built-in breaks, can help keep motivation high and distractions to a minimum. Set a time limit for necessary diversions such as household chores, and set daily and weekly goals for task completion.
Give Yourself a Break
It’s important to take a lunch break and to feed yourself and reward yourself regularly. Build the breaks into your schedule so that you don’t find yourself burned out from low blood sugar and lack of energy. Taking breaks can also help beat the second biggest issue people have with working from home: loneliness.
Get Out of the House
The quiet of working from home can be great for some people’s productivity, while for others it’s a lonely and stressful experience. The workplace is most people’s primary source of social interaction. Beating isolation is an important part of dealing with work from home stress. Try going out for lunch or bringing a laptop to a coffee shop or other public place. Even if you don’t interact with anyone, being around other people for a little while can have a positive effect.
If your at-home work doesn’t lend itself to Starbucks time, joining networking groups and work-related clubs can be a real lifesaver. Networking groups are ideal for reducing social isolation, providing structure to a monthly or weekly schedule and creating business opportunities. If you don’t have day-to-day interactions with co-workers, finding a group of people in the same industry who speak your language and share your concerns can help reduce anxiety and keep things in perspective.
Motivation and isolation can be the two biggest issues in the otherwise low-stress and high-freedom of working from home. These tips should help alleviate the effects of both and lead to productive, happy work from home.
About the Author
Jeanne Barnard is the owner of work at home sites allstayathome.com and allstayathome.biz. She left corporate America to start a home business in 1999 and has never looked back. She has an MBA and loves helping people work from home.