Not having to get dressed or leave bed. Not having to worry about commuting. Not having to look like we’re doing work 100% of the time. Working from home seems like nirvana (not that Nirvana) and that’s before we remember that we have a TV at home and we can listen to our music as loud as we want.
It sounds great, but working from home is a lot harder than people lead on. It blurs the line between work and home – home being the place where we don’t have to worry about work, a place where the 9-5 doesn’t exist – and that’s something we tend to ignore when mulling the prospect of working from home.
This doesn’t mean all is lost, it just means that if we want to make working from home work, we have to put in a little, well…work.
DESIGNATE SOME SPACE
Don’t let the allure of working from the couch or from bed tip the scales on working from home. Chances are, as nice as those things sound, they’re only going to make doing work that much harder.
If working from home is going to work, we need to designate space in our homes for work. It’s important to keep the delineation between work and non-work clear so we can be productive, but also so our lives aren’t taken over by work. Once we start working from our couch or our bed, the allure of climbing into bed at the end of a long day is gone. It’s no longer an escape, it’s another cog in the vast machine of our professional lives.
Find an unused room, or an unused corner of a room, set up a desk, get some supplies, and treat it as an office, not as home.
MAKE IT AS UNHOMEY AS POSSIBLE
The work day is still the work day, even if we’re working from home. Our schedules don’t change, our responsibilities don’t change, and our availability doesn’t change. The only things that change are our workspaces and the distractions around us. That’s why it’s important to treat a home office as we would a regular office. That means no watching TV, and unless time permits, no running non-essential errands or cooking lavish meals during the day.
I know most of us aren’t working every second of the 9-5 day, so if there is time during lunch to do some things, make it happen, but working from home isn’t an excuse not to work, and it shouldn’t be treated as such.
TREAT IT LIKE WORK
Habits are easy to form, but hard to break, so it’s important that we maintain our work habits even as we transition from office to home. That means getting up at a reasonable time and getting ready. That means getting dressed (we don’t have to put on a shirt and tie, but no underwear and pajamas. Pants and a shirt of some kind will do the trick just fine.) It means taking a reasonable amount of time for lunch. It means not taking advantage of the fact that our boss isn’t looking over our shoulder, and that our only office mate might be our pet.
Working from home is hard and takes discipline, but it’s not all things we can’t do. Treating working from home like work also means that when the clock strikes quittin’ time, it’s quittin’ time. We can go about our life immediately and there’s no traffic waiting for us. Close the laptop and live life.
Working from home is a special kind of pleasure as long as we’re good about emphasizing the “work” part. If we can do that, and keep our work and non-work lives separate, things will be just fine.
Until next time – Wanna meet up after work?