Working from home not just another day off
By Andrea Freedman
When I worked at my last office job before becoming a freelance writer, on days when my boss stayed home and others at work would inquire as to his whereabouts, I often jokingly said he’s “working from home” with little invisible quote signs in the air, thinking to myself that this was just another way of saying he was taking the day off.
Now that I actually work from home myself, I enjoy many benefits, such as working in my pjs on a rainy day, and taking a break without having to answer to anyone, not to mention the time and money I save on transportation. But I realize that real work can in fact be accomplished at home – that is, if you discipline yourself and remember a few simple tips:
Although it can be challenging to ignore housework when it is staring you in the face, if you really want to get any work done, domestic duties have to be put on the back burner. For a certain amount of hours every day, your home becomes your office. After all, you wouldn’t worry about cleaning the bathroom at work, would you? That being said, I sometimes multi-task and throw some laundry in while I am working. I was never thrilled about doing laundry after work and I still feel the same way so I really appreciate that I am able to get it done during the day.
Set Times for Breaks to Begin and End
Eat and drink! Your body and mind need nourishment and hydration and if you don’t eat you won’t be able to do your best work. However, it is important not to let that coffee or lunch break take up the rest of the day. It may seem like a good idea at the time, especially when the weather is nice, but it will only lead to anxiety and stress in the long run, which are some of the things you are trying to avoid by working from home.
Be Good to Yourself
Just because you are working from home does not mean you are on a permanent vacation and before you know it you could be working every day for weeks without realizing it, however enjoyable the work may be. It is still important to plan days off and vacation time, even if you are not actually traveling anywhere.
Strike When the Iron is Hot
I used to dread the thought of working on weekends or evenings, but when you do it from home, especially if it is for yourself, it really doesn’t feel all that bad. When I work all weekend or stay up late to finish an assignment or because I am inspired to write something, I can treat myself to a day off or guilt-free sleep-in the next day, even if that day falls during the week.
Put Them On Ice
When someone, perhaps a client or employer, says something in an e-mail to put you off, rather than let it ruin your entire day, when you are working from home you can much more easily take a step back from your computer until you feel better without anyone being any the wiser.
Get a Change of Atmosphere
Working from home doesn’t always have to actually take place right inside your house. Depending on what you do, work may be able to be done on a patio while enjoying a coffee in the sunshine (don’t forget to save your receipts for tax time if you are self-employed).
Believe it or not, sometimes you have to force yourself to stop working for the day in order not to neglect other important things and people in your lives, and to maintain that balance which led many of us to start working from home in the first place.
Hang Up the Phone
Friends may know you are home and it is tempting to take personal calls, especially since no one is looking over our shoulder. But every person that you spend a half an hour on the phone with will take away from the work you get done that day and take you that much farther away from meeting a deadline on time.
Don’t Make Your Computer Your Only Friend
Although I just discouraged personal phone calls, one downfall of working from home is the lack of face-to-face contact with work friends. It is important to take some time for socializing. Working from home allows for flexibility so you can sometimes meet a friend who is perhaps also working from home or has the day off on any given day.
Learn to Share Home Office Space
If there is more than one person in a household who works from home – as is the case with my husband and I – during working hours you need to get into work mode. I often have to stop myself from distracting my husband by talking to him too much while we are supposed to be working.
It is best if you can each find a separate space in your home where you can both work quietly, even if you need to close a door, especially if one of you has a phone call scheduled. While it may be nice to be home together, try to get out sometimes, even for a short time, to give the other person some space.
The next time someone tells me they are working from home, I won’t make a sarcastic remark or put it in air quotes if I talk about it with someone else.
Now that I have experienced it myself, I love working from home. As much as I used to enjoy getting dressed up for work and socializing with friends at the office, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz put it best when she said “There’s no place like home!”
Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2017