Making Working From Home Work for You


Working from home is a reality for a growing number of people, and it’s a trend that will only accelerate in the coming years. However, transitioning from an office environment to a home environment can be a challenge, especially for those accustomed to the pace and atmosphere of traditional offices. While you’ll eventually find out what works best for you, getting off to a strong start can help smooth the process. Here are a few ways to make working from home work for you.

Set Boundaries With Family and Friends

Despite what people may think, working from home doesn’t necessarily mean 3pm cocktails with friends and extended lunch breaks with family everyday. When you first start to work from home, you might find that people don’t understand that you have to keep a set schedule. You might have friends and family stopping by to socialize. Be clear that working from home doesn’t mean you can take off a few hours midway through the day and that you need everyone to respect your time and boundaries. It may take some time for the message to come through, but it will help you avoid other distractions during the day.

Set a Schedule

Working from home comes with a considerable degree of freedom, but it also places certain demands on you. In particular, you’re now responsible for ensuring you’re getting in the hours your work requires, as there’s nobody nearby to take note if you show up late. So yes, while it might be extremely tempting to stay up late in a Netflix marathon and start your workday at 2pm the next day, you’re going to feel like a lot better and more productive if you keep to a set schedule. Try to take a military-style approach to your schedule, especially at first, as it’s easy to get in the habit of hitting the snooze bar one too many times or staying up too late at night. That said, you’ll also want to be flexible with your schedule. You’ll undoubtedly find that a few tweaks can improve your schedule while you’re adjusting.

Take Breaks

When working in an office, we often fail to grasp how many hours we’re actually spending on work. Between five-minute chats around the water cooler to a few minutes spent checking the weather online, we often don’t spend as much time focused on work as we imagine. When people transition to working from home, they often think they need to be completely focused on work for a full eight hours; many soon realize that this pace is unsustainable. Some people who work from home swear by taking a five-minute break every 25 minutes and a longer break every two hours. Some prefer longer breaks at less frequent intervals. If you feel guilty about taking breaks, remember how frequently you experienced distractions while at the office, and note that you’ll work more efficiently if you give your brain a chance to refresh.

Set Aside a Space for Work

One of the potential downsides of working from home is finding work encroaching on your personal life–or put another way, working from home means always being at work! This feels especially true if you have a smaller living space. If possible, set aside a room or a portion of a room as your dedicated workspace, as you’ll be better able to switch into home mode once you’re done. If you don’t have enough space, make sure to avoid working in your bed, as doing so makes it more difficult to transition into sleeping mode at night. Any way you can physically partition a workspace will help you maintain an appropriate amount of separation between your work and your social life, so feel free to be creative.

Focus on Your Sleep

Suboptimal sleep is extremely common, and everyone should take steps to ensure they’re getting the right amount of high-quality sleep. However, those who work from home need to be extra vigilant, as poor sleep can have a cascade of effects over time. Poor sleep makes it difficult to wake up and keep your morning routine intact, which can have you scrambling to get started on time. Without proper sleep, you might have trouble getting in enough hours without feeling excessively drowsy. Over time, this can lead to additional stress, which can make getting in enough sleep even more difficult. View sleep as a critical part of your work and personal life, and don’t make sacrifices.

Working from home can save you time, money, and office-related stress, but it’s not a panacea for all work-related issues. Prepare as thoroughly as you can, but understand that there will be an adjustment period along the way. Stay flexible, but make sure to set your boundaries, set rules for yourself, and ensure you’re getting in the breaks you need to stay rested and alert.