For most of us, the idea of working from home is immediately seductive. Who wouldn’t love the freedom to stay in their bathrobe until lunchtime?
Still, one important factor to consider when deciding whether to take on remote work is that even though you might be “off the clock,” the office stays with you.
In fact, while I’m writing this, millions of workers are experiencing the WFH life for the first time, due to the Coronavirus pandemic—and they’re blessing the internet with memes about how working from home is a “scam,” lamenting that their bosses can call them anytime, given that they have literally nowhere to be.
This New York Times article seems to be on the same page, bearing the headline “Sorry, but Working From Home Is Overrated.”
But there are ways to get ahead of the little inconveniences that come with working remotely and make the most of the experience. And once you taste that freedom, you may never want to go back!
How to Work From Home
Read on for 10 tips that will help you master working from home like a boss.
1. Ditch the robe.
Regardless of whether you’re an early riser or prefer clocking in around noon, try taking the time to actually “get ready” for work.
So, that bathrobe fantasy? While it might sound dreamy, getting dressed and groomed as if you were indeed leaving the house can help enforce the boundary between work and home.
Treating your home office like any other office you have to report to daily will encourage you to stay on track and not get distracted by things like household chores.
Likewise, at the end of the day, stepping away from the computer and changing into sweats for the gym or a dress for date night can ease the transition from work life to personal life.
2. Prioritize your tasks for the day.
While you sip that first morning cup of joe, contemplate your top priorities for the day. What absolutely needs to get done today? If it can’t realistically get done today, what steps can you take to get closer?
Set 2-3 realistic goals to keep you on track, even if they seem like small ones. If you have clear goals to work toward, you won’t get lost in a tangle of distractions and you’ll be able to work more efficiently.
3. Respect “Office Hours.”
So much of our work today follows us around via our smartphones and computers. Working freelance or remotely can make it even harder to unplug from daily work dramas, since your home likely doubles as your office.
This is why it is so important to establish and respect your own “office hours.” Just because you work from home doesn’t mean your life can’t benefit from some structure and consistency.
Then, together with your boss or colleagues, establish a limit on work-related email use after-hours and respect it. Whatever isn’t absolutely urgent can wait until tomorrow, when you can address it with refreshed eyes and a recharged mind.
Likewise, make sure that your partner, children, or housemates are also aware of your work hours, and that you shouldn’t be disturbed unless it’s an emergency.
4. Don’t neglect your body.
Set aside some time every day to be active. Whether it’s hitting the gym at the end of the day or doing some jumping jacks on your lunch break, getting your daily dose of exercise will not only keep you healthy but also refresh your mind so you can better focus on the tasks at hand.
And don’t just stop at exercise—what you eat also plays a pivotal role on your productivity and how well you can focus.
So don’t just reach for a bag of potato chips while you’re working from home—the Mayo Clinic recommends the Mediterranean diet, packed with vegetables and lean proteins, for those who want to retain knowledge and stamina. Take some time in the morning or the evening prior to meal prep a healthy lunch for yourself.
If your days are looking particularly busy, try meal-prepping some healthy snacks at the beginning of the week so you don’t have to lose time rinsing and chopping.
5. Put technology to work for you.
If keeping an old-fashioned planner is a bit outdated for your needs, a number of apps and features are now available to help you manage and organize just about every aspect of your life.
Cozi helps coordinate your entire family’s schedules and activities, manage grocery and to-do lists, make dinner plans and more. Since the whole family can access it, sending reminders is no longer your job.
Google Calendar Goals will help keep you on track with your weekly aspirations by automatically scheduling time to work on goals whenever you have open slots on your calendar.
If a conflict arises that prevents you from working on the task, the feature will move your goal to another time that works for you. No more excuses!
6. Invest in your workspace.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to spruce up the space where you’ll be spending the majority of your days. After all, isn’t one of the benefits of not having to report to an office cubicle being able to do whatever you please with your work space?
For your best work, choose a home office setup that allows you to work comfortably. Invest in a supportive chair or ergonomic equipment to help boost your productivity and spare your body any unnecessary pain at the end of the day.
Make your home office a place you’re happy to enter by adding a scented candle or some relaxing music playing softly from your computer. Create an environment you’re not desperate to escape, even though at the end of the day you will have to pry yourself away from the keyboard (see Tip #3!)
7. Respect Your “You” Time.
Set aside one hour at the end of each day just for you. Whether it’s meditating before bed, journaling, or calling your mom, make sure this time is spent on what you need to feel rested and restored at the end of the day. This means you should also try to avoid social media during this sacred hour!
Dedicating this bit of time each evening to self-care will help you wind down and ensure a better night’s rest so you can wake up ready to tackle the next day’s agenda.
Your work will likely be more efficient and of better quality if you’re not running on empty.
8. Ask for help.
If you’re feeling overloaded with tasks this week, don’t be afraid to speak with your boss or ask for help.
If too much has been put on your plate, don’t play the martyr and take on more than you can reasonably handle just to get some brownie points.
And the same goes for your home life! Don’t be afraid to ask your partner for a little extra help around the house
Stretching yourself too thin will likely only lead to a diminished performance, and no one on your team wants that.
9. Schedule some time out.
A few times a week, make an effort to get out of the house, even if it’s just for a quick walk or to grab a coffee.
Working from home, you may find that your time in the real world (remember what people look like?) has dwindled significantly. Even for the most antisocial of us, it’s important to get some fresh air and connect with others.
10. Know when to say ‘no,’ even in your personal life.
Balancing work, family, and health is already a difficult task. Learn to be more economical with your precious free time.
When you’re invited to do something that you don’t really care for, politely decline. Just as you shouldn’t take on more than you can swing in your professional life, you shouldn’t feel obliged to keep your social calendar equally packed.
You may fear that others might think because you work from home, you’re always free. But working from home can actually lead you to be even more overwhelmed at times, so make sure you learn how to say ‘no’ when you need to.
What Kind of Work Can You Do From Home?
These days, most jobs can be done remotely, even if they’re still performed in mostly traditional settings. However, events like the Coronavirus pandemic, which have pushed a majority of the workforce to work from home out of necessity, could make this lifestyle a more permanent reality for many.
According to The Simple Dollar, these 10 jobs will be increasingly done from home in 2020:
- Virtual assistant
- Medical transcriptionist
- Web developer
- Travel agent
- Freelance writer
- Social media manager
- Data entry
- Call center representative
Of course, most creative jobs (think any kind of writer, editor, artist, etc.) can be done from home, and we’ll likely see the above list expand greatly in the coming year.
How Do You Find a Legitimate Work From Home Job?
There are loads of sites out there aimed specifically at helping people find flexible, remote, or partially remote jobs that allow workers to do at least a portion of their work from home.
In other cases, you might used traditional job and networking sites (such as LinkedIn or Indeed) by changing the way you search (for example, you can filter your results to find “remote only” jobs).
Or, you can simply ask your employer if it would be possible to do some of your work remotely. You might be surprised at how willing some will to be to compromise!
Here are several resources that can help you find the perfect WFH job for you:
- FlexJobs: For just $14.95/month (and even less if you pay several months at a time), you can browse and apply for hand-screened listings (new jobs are added daily). You won’t have to worry about junk ads or being taken to shady 3rd-party sites to apply; FlexJobs will direct you to the company’s site. You can choose from 100% remote, partially remote, and flexible jobs.
- SolidGigs: Aimed more at freelancers, SolidGigs combs through dozens of freelance job boards and sends the best 1% straight to jobseekers’ inboxes every week. And if you sign up for a paid membership, you’ll also get access to hundreds of online courses, interviews, templates, and other awesome resources that can help you with your job hunt.
- Remotive: Remotive is a free remote jobs board that’s very easy to navigate. It also doubles as an online community, where members can exchange tips, share helpful information, and ask questions.
- Working Nomads: Also free to join, Working Nomads offers users a curated list of remote jobs sent straight to their inboxes, either daily or weekly. If you’d prefer to opt-out of the emails, you can easily navigate the site yourself to find great remote and freelance job listings.
- LinkedIn or Indeed: Though not necessarily considered remote or freelance job sites, both of these more traditional platforms can be used to find remote positions, if you know how to look for them. For LinkedIn, simply change your “location” to “remote.” For Indeed, you can include “remote” as part of your search phrase.
Tips for Working From Home
Whether you’ve always dreamt of working from home, or if circumstances beyond your control have you carving out space for a home office, you’ll find that working from home can change your life in many positive ways.
By learning how to organize your time and balance your work and home life, you can spend more time doing the things you love with the people you love, while maximizing your productivity and being a star employee.
Do you have any tips for working from home? Share them with us in the comments below!