“Do you watch TV all day?” “Do you do your laundry?” “Can you drink wine?” Friends and family rarely understand what working from home entails. It’s not a vacation, and it can be downright challenging. Yes, there’s more flexibility for errands and emergencies, but you can never leave something “at the office.” There’s less time wasted at the water cooler, but you also get fewer in-person interactions throughout the day. It’s a tricky balance, so whether you’re new to the remote life or you’ve been at it for a while now, here are six tips for honing in on the ideal work-at-home scenario.
Pick a schedule.
Decide what your work hours are going to be (your employer may have core hours that you need to follow) and stick to them. Have structure, but give yourself the flexibility to move things around if you need to. Need to run an errand during the middle of the day? Shift your time in the office to accommodate. It might be helpful to track your hours in a spreadsheet if this happens frequently, but Stick to whatever schedule you choose.
Find a place to park it.
Your designated work area doesn’t have to be permanent, especially if your home has a small footprint, but it’s a good idea to designate a regular home base. In the case of a transient office, aim for a minimalist approach so you can pack up your work station at the end of each day. If you have the luxury of a permanent office, make it a place you’ll want to return to. Regardless, going back to the same place might help put your mind in work mode.
Set the scene.
Guess what–this is your office and you don’t have to play nice with anyone else. Reheat that seafood in the microwave if you want! Play your favorite music as loudly as you desire! Listen to a podcast, play white (or mocha-colored) noise in the background, or revel in complete silence. As long as it doesn’t distract you from getting the job done, you should feel free to do whatever you want to make your work life as happy as it can be.
Connect with others.
Working from home may mean fewer run-ins. You probably won’t see people in an elevator, bathroom, or conference room on a regular basis unless they’re family. That means you don’t have to put work clothes on, but it does mean that your interactions are few and far between. Make the most of in-person interactions. Slow down and chat with the checkout lady, ride the bus, or polish your sisterhood skills.
Make exercise and eating right a priority. That might mean getting up early to go for a jog or scheduling a break to take a spin class. Try placing a yoga mat next to your desk to stretch during conference calls or to end your day with practice. Give a wellness app a try. Do what’s right for you, but don’t let the convenience of working from home inconvenience your health!
Give yourself a break.
No one’s perfect. If you only work 7.5 instead of 8 hours one day unexpectedly, give yourself the flexibility to make it up another time. If you go to bed one night and realize you’d forgotten to brush your teeth that morning (trust me, it can happen!), forgive yourself and try never to let that happen again. Give yourself the room for improvement and give up the attempt to find perfection.
Working from home is a work in progress, but as long as you keep trying you’ll figure out what works best for you. At the end of the day: Just work it!