When you’re working from home, it can be tempting to stay in your pajamas, take frequent snack breaks, and work your schedule around daytime TV shows. But in reality, if you want to be as productive as possible, you’ve got to set some personal ground rules, and stick to them. We gathered these 10 rules that might help you organize your work space and create the best work environment—at home.
Designate an office space
When you’re at home, it can be tempting to bring your laptop to bed or lay out on the living room couch. But it is best to designate a specific area in your home that is for work only, even if it’s just a corner and not an office. It helps you stay organized, and being in that work-only space will get your mind in the right mode.
Invest in an actual desk, and a good chair
Using your coffee table or a nightstand to get your work done isn’t good for your productivity—or your back. Check out Ikea’s table bar for desk options that range from $19.99 to $189. Other stores, such as Target, have a variety of affordable, yet comfortable, desk chairs that are easy to put together.
Create a schedule
Without a set timeframe, you’ll allow yourself to get distracted and pulled in by the many things that can sidetrack you at home. According to Donn Saylor, contributor at EHow.com, if you have set hours, like you would in an office, you’ll be more efficient and effective at completing your tasks. This also means not allowing your work to trickle into the late night hours, which it will affect your productivity the next day.
Ditch the PJs
One of the benefits of working from home should be that you can roll out of bed, stay in your PJs, and not worry about what you look like, right? Wrong. A shower, clean clothes, and a good breakfast will get you out of lazy-mode and into a working one. A good rule to remember is if you wouldn’t do it at an actual office, you probably shouldn’t do it working at home.
Turn off the TV
While there are many benefits to working from home, the ability to watch daytime TV and catch up on your DVR should not be one of them. Leave the “Orange is the new black” reruns for before or after-work hours.
Assign a break time—and stick to it
While you should definitely have a set schedule, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break. Go outside and get a little sunlight. Many experts agree, as published on FastCompany.com, that taking a break, even for 20 minutes sustains concentration and energy levels throughout the day. Just make sure you stick to the allotted break time, and don’t let it stretch from an hour to two or three hours…
A Nielsen survey revealed that the average person spends more than 7 hours on Facebook each month. Add checking personal e-mail and returning calls, and you can easily use your entire work day on your digital and social life. So, unless you work as a social community manager, make an effort to keep the personal only checking and browsing list for your personal time, before or after your work schedule begins. No cheating!
Mental Block? Don't give up
Just because there isn’t a supervisor over your shoulder monitoring your work, doesn’t mean that you can give up and head to the couch when things get tough. If you do that too often, it may become a hard habit to break afterwards. When you experience any kind of mental block, try switching work tasks or taking a snack break, you will find that it might help.
Being at home can get a little lonely, and unlike when you’re in an office environment, you can go for hours without talking to another human. Interaction and conversation with another person can be refreshing and also an igniter of new ideas; so whether it’s the postman, a neighbor, or the woman at the local Starbucks, squeeze a little face-to-face with other adults into your day.