I’ve been telecommuting for just over two years now. Whatever you call it – telecommuting, working from home, working remotely – getting the job done in this environment has become normal for me. There are plenty of articles out there with the same tips like “remove distractions!” and “wear business clothes!” but these are some of the things that make a difference to me:
Get dressed. In pretty much everything I’ve ever read about working from home, it’s recommended that you dress as if you were going in to the office. To which I say: nope. One of the best things about working from home is that I don’t have to get dressed as I would if I went to the office. But I have learned that it’s crucial for me to actually get dressed. I don’t have to actually see anyone for most of the day, it’s way too easy to just stay in my pajamas, as lazy as that makes me sound. I make the very small effort to get dressed, even if it’s just jeans and a t-shirt, or exercise clothes, and it makes a difference in my mindset. (If I get dressed in business clothes, it mostly just makes me uncomfortable.)
Make your workspace work for you. Of course, it’s important to ensure you have an organized, comfortable place to work, no matter where your desk (or non-desk) is. Another perk of working from home is having some flexibility with your actual workspace that you may not get in a traditional office setting. While I don’t usually get to work in as lovely a spot as the image above, I do bounce around a little bit because a fresh view helps keep my attention span going. I go through phases with this, too. After I moved into this apartment, I spent a few months working a lot from a stool at our kitchen counter downstairs. These days, I mostly sit at my desk in my bedroom next to the air conditioner. Of course, I like to leave home to work sometimes too, which leads me to my next point.
Get out of the house. I am a homebody, but I actually don’t like being home alllll day, everyyyy day while I work because it means I enjoy my outside-of-work home hours less! One of the biggest things I miss about working in a traditional office is the feeling of coming home, kicking shoes off, changing into sweats, and relaxing on the couch. If you’re home all day, that sort of loses its luster. I intentionally work outside the house on a regular basis, usually from a coffee shop or a coworking space. I’ve worked from libraries, bars/restaurants, friends’ homes, and so on. Changes of scenery = better for my mental health = better for my work productivity.
Eat well. Working from home has been both a blessing and a curse for my health and fitness. One of the biggest benefits is that I can work in proximity to my kitchen as often as I want, which means I don’t really have an excuse for not preparing fresh, healthy food for myself. Of course, this also means I have to be careful about keeping snacks around, because of that proximity and also the fact that no one’s around to notice if I eat an entire box of cereal or something. But I’ve never been great at preparing food ahead of time, packing my lunch, etc., and so being able to run into the kitchen and make my lunch is a big plus and one I try not to take for granted. (This was also invaluable when I was doing a Whole 30 last summer.)
Enjoy the perks. I’ve also read advice about working from home that cautions against getting distracted by, say, doing your laundry during your workday. I don’t follow this advice. Of course you have to focus on work for large blocks of time, and ensure you schedule yourself well, but I try to take advantage of the flexibility of telecommuting as much as I can, because I know it may not last forever. I just did a load of laundry during my workday today. It’s easy for me to pop over to the gym for a mid-day class and come home and shower and get back to work. When I was in a long-distance relationship, I was able to visit my boyfriend and work at the same time, so we saw each other a lot more often than if I’d had to take full days off. I save a lot of time by not having to commute, and I’ve saved money on clothes and makeup since I don’t have to be “office ready” each day. For my coworkers with children, working remotely is essential for their childcare schedules. Work-life balance, indeed!