Working from home is increasingly becoming the goal for men and women alike. The notion that you get to stay home and still make money sounds like a true break for anyone who is used to the daily routine of getting up, getting ready, and leaving the home.
There are some important components to remember though, especially for those who are considering the possibility of working from home. In deciding whether or not to make the move to working from home, let’s look at what tips and ideas have created success in the work-from-home routine.
Taking a Moment for the Pros and Cons
The benefits of working from home can be great:
Free to do what you want
No dress code
No one checking over your shoulder
Some home office expenses can be written off on your taxes
Convenient for increasing time around your family
The potential for a more balanced, healthier life
Immense amounts of self-discipline are required
You are the only one around so there is a decreased pressure to be busy
Must be self-motivated
Can miss out on coworker camaraderie and socialization
When Considering Whether or not Working from Home is for You
First and foremost, remember that you actually have to spend time being productive and working. It may seem too easy to start a work project, notice something that needs to get to get done around the house, get up from the work space and then get lost in the other things that are seen as tasks or projects.
If you have the goal to work from home, you will need to get yourself in a place where you can shower, get ready for work, set up a specific place, and set up a specific time and structure to your work.
Designing Your Space for Maximum Productivity
We each have different working styles—some of us require absolute pristine conditions at the desk which sometimes includes the whole room! We need space that is free from distractions, organized, and progress orientated. However, some people just need a notebook and a pen next to their computer, amongst a sea of other things they have lying around, and they’re still able to get their work done. These people like organized mess; it gives them a sense of busyness—like they’re really involved with a project. Be careful with this if you are this type, as feeling or looking busy are not always the same thing as actually accomplishing your tasks and goals.
Identifying which components you need in order to be the most productive and mentally-centered self can be found in the following questionnaire.
Finding an Organizational Scheme that Works for You
These are just a sampling of the questions you need to ask yourself as you’re deciding whether or not to work from home and how to structure your home and office environment.
- When are you most productive? Some people have a specific time of the day in which they are most productive. Others are most productive in a certain physical environment.
- When do you feel like you accomplish your best work? When, where, and how are your best efforts accomplished? In your head, you may have already decided on the when, where and how, but:
- When do you actually do your best work? Looking back at a project or task that you’re proud of, when did you actually get the most done? What was the situation like? How did you feel while you were working? These are the identifying factor of how and when you do your best work.
- Are you more focused on getting the project done or are you more focused on seeming busy? Being self-motivated and disciplined can be daunting, but being honest with yourself about your habits, decisions, and abilities can wipe away all the doubts and insecurities and give you true insight to how you function. Being honest with yourself about whether you’re truly doing the work or just trying to look or feel like you’re accomplishing something can make all the difference in your routine and final results.
- Do you use to-do lists or any other form of tracking or organizational matrices? Some people thrive on to-do lists. One caution of this is that sometimes the list just keeps growing and becomes less detailed so more work is created in the list than there really is to do. Keep to-do lists between 3-5 check boxes long. Any longer and you’ll become overwhelmed and likely not stay on top of the tasks as well. If you do like to-do lists, but want something new, check out other productivity matrices that might work for you.
Clean Versus Structured. Disorganized Versus Messy
No matter how old you get or how far away you get from your childhood memories, a large part of who we are and what we prefer stems from growing up with the family we were born into and the habits created during our youth. That is, what is clean to some might be disorganized to others. Obsessive compulsive cleaners and extreme detail-orientated folks aside, reflecting on the work environment that suits you best might require a trip back down memory lane.
When you got home from school as a child, did you do your homework right away? Did you parents or caretaker have a specific location or setting in which to do you work? Were you consistent with this model of learning and working at the house? Did you have any structure in this area? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’re likely more in tune with having a specific set of environmental triggers that will support your productivity, but likely only if certain parameters are met.
Looking at the work types below, try to identify yourself from one, or at most two, of the examples.
- Clean and supremely organized
- Neat and structured
- Disorganized and structured
- Messy and structured
- A tornado just hit my work space
In which category do you see yourself working contently and productively? In which category do you see yourself being unable to structure any sense of productivity because of the unfamiliar idea? While clean, neat, and organized might work for most, there are those of us that still can function and not be overwhelmed in a crazy messy or disorganized space. There are people that still know where everything is amongst the tornado work space.
Zoning Back in on Productivity
Taking a look at an article by life coach, writer, licensed therapist, and doctorate student, Matthew Jones, we can gain some insight into four tips that can make or break your productivity routine.
According to Jones, in order to get the most efficiency for your time, take note of when you squander both time and energy and stop it! During the commute or times of waiting, move away from the activities that stimulate your brain in the short term. No more self-consoling with Pintrest scrolling, Facebook trolling, or even playing something from the myriad games available from your App Store. Take this time to read a book or do something that will engage your mind and enrich your life. Stay away from the mindlessness!
Reassess your responsibilities and tasks. Take a step back, stop complaining, delaying, procrastinating, and instead, do. Each goal or task can be viewed in a different light as a challenge to be overcome and accomplished. Keep your focus on quality work, but also be sure to keep the main end-goal in mind.
Joining the personal and professional sides of life. Establishing a true balance between work and living life doesn’t have to be as hard as many make it. Instead of focusing on separating the two in the conventional balancing notion, aim for pairing things from each together so that you’re able to feel the accomplishment on both levels. There are activities that go hand-in-hand that benefit both the work and the home life.
Knowing when you need to take a break and step back from a project isn’t always clear. By learning how you function personally can make all the difference in the world in terms of appropriating time for a break. Recognize and accept that we all need breaks. If not just to clear you mind, make time for a break for your body. Get up, move, stretch, and refuel. Getting stuck in a rut can be as simple as taking a break, giving your mind and body the break it needs before jumping back into the work routine. Enjoy the time without thinking about the work that needs to be done. This is crucial to success.
More Strategies with the Work-Life Balance
If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us would really rather not work. In an ideal world, we’d have much more time for ourselves and our families. We would gain enrichment and perceive success from sharing more time with those we love and fulfilling our personal ambitions. In this reality in which we live, however, we have to learn to make the best of situations and circumstances in order to live our best and fullest lives. A key component to accomplishing balance from this mixture is to do things mindfully.
When we’re working on a project, stay focused on the project. By avoiding procrastination or other distractions, we’re able to channel our intentions into the task at hand. The same idea goes for the personal home-life part of our lives and, in fact, may be much more important. Being mindful in the time we are spending with loved ones or doing the things that make us happy are really, really important. Overall, we’ve become less and less able to focus on being present in the moment. Often times the mind wanders back to the to-do list and other things that require our attention, when, in reality, they really do not. This is really, really important: being actively engaged in the time spent on things that make you happy and spending time with loved ones can make or break your work-life balance.
Being present mentally and emotionally within the family-sphere is increasingly important as we try and maintain the balance between the “office” life and the “home” life, as they diverge onto one playing field. Working from home can be the best decision of your life, but may require some adjustments from all parties involved. It may require you to reflect upon yourself, your habits, your needs, and how you want to reshape the habits that shape your success.
It will not always be just about creating and maintaining a clean, distraction-free work space. It may be more about figuring out how you work best, noting the implications of your environment combined with the project. It may make more sense for you with some projects to leave the house and be able to dedicate your full attention to the task. This is where the flexibility of working from home suits you; you can retreat to a coffee shop, library, or other quiet work-orientated space for a couple hours, come home, and be able to reintegrate seamlessly, knowing that you’ve accomplished your goals and now you have the rest of the day to play.