If you are not used to it, the transition to working from home can be difficult. You don’t have your regular commute to get you into your work mindset or an office space to keep you focused on work tasks. Some people thrive when working from home while others find it to be a challenge. Here are some tips to help you stay sane and productive as you work from home.

Tip #1: Work Regular Hours

When you work in an office, it’s easy to maintain regular working hours. You are expected to arrive at a certain time and work for a certain number of hours before leaving around the same time as your coworkers. When you work from home, you are in charge of setting your own working hours. It can be tempting to sleep as late as you want and then work for your set number of hours from there. However, it is best to try to work during regular work hours even when you work from home. Start working around the same time that you would normally work in the office. This will set a regular work routine so that you can be as productive as possible and enjoy a healthy work-life balance at home.

Tip #2: Don’t Work in Bed

Who wouldn’t want to stay in their comfortable bed while they work from home? It would be easy to wake up, grab your laptop, and stay in bed all day long. However, you will get a lot less done during the day when you do this. If you stay in bed, you will start to feel sleepy again and will have a difficult time feeling awake and as if your day has actually begun. Instead of staying in bed, you should get up and make your bed just like you would any other day. It’s best to avoid working in your bedroom at all if you can find privacy in another room as you work from home. Your bedroom should be a space set aside for sleeping and relaxing. If you also use it as your office space, you will still be thinking about work even as you try to unwind at the end of the day. If you don’t have a home office, use a spare bedroom or dining table for work.

Tip #3: Get Up and Get Dressed

When you work from home, you may be tempted to stay cozy in your pajamas all day long. However, you will be much more productive if you get up and get dressed. You don’t have to dress for the office, although some people prefer to do so to get themselves in the work mindset. Instead, you can dress casually in clothes in which you wouldn’t mind greeting someone at the door. Getting dressed will shift your mind away from your bed and onto your to-do list. Video meetings with bosses or clients may call for more professional attire, though, so keep your office clothes handy.

Tip #4: Set a Regular Quitting Time

A lot of people work more when they work from home than at the office. Depending on who you live with, you may have fewer interruptions than when you are in a busy office space. When you work from home, it can be difficult to separate your work and home life because you can’t just “leave it at the office.” Since you don’t have the commute from work back home, you don’t have that transition to switch to an at-home mindset. With your computer sitting right there, it can be hard to get your mind away from the things that need to be done, even if they can easily wait until the next day. You may find yourself doing just one more task until, before you know it, it’s dark and you’ve lost your entire evening to work. To avoid falling into this trap, you need to set a regular time to stop working at the end of the day. If you need to, set an alarm. When it goes off, finish what you’re working on, then call it a day. And, once you stop, try to stay stopped for the rest of the evening.

Tip #5: Keep in Touch with Coworkers

When you work from home, you miss out on regular internal communications that take place in an office environment. Since you can’t just walk down the hall to ask a simple question or overhear your boss say something that needs to be done, you have to make a conscious effort to communicate with your coworkers and bosses. Under normal office circumstances, a lot of decisions are often just spoken without being put into writing. When your office goes virtual, you no longer have this ability, so everything either needs to be put into writing via emails and collaboration software or discussed over video and conference calls. You need to find a way to keep your manager and coworkers up to date on what you are doing and when, as well as a means of easily asking questions.

Tip #6: Make Plans and To-Do Lists

As you work from home, you are reliant on self-motivation and discipline. At the beginning of the week, you should make a list of the things that need to be done that week and the projects that you are going to work on. Then, each day, make either a mental or written list of what you are going to work on and what needs to be finished that day. This will help you stay on track and productive so that you can get everything done on time. Being able to check items off your list throughout the day and week also make you feel more accomplished, motivating you to continue getting other things done as well.

Tip #7: Take Small Breaks

Every now and then, it’s good for you to get away from your computer and walk around for a bit. However, you should limit your breaks to only a few throughout the day so that you can maintain your work rhythm. And when you take a break, leave the TV off, or you may risk getting sucked into watching an entire episode, movie, or even series. Going for a walk with your dog or by yourself will give you a nice break in the afternoon and allow you to leave your home in exchange for some fresh air.

Tip #8: Forget About the Chores

To be productive when you work from home, you need to try to keep your home life separate from work. If you need, you can throw in a load of laundry and let it run while you work, but other household chores can be major distractions and should wait until after your workday is over. The same goes for errands. Try to hold off on running errands until after you are done with work. If you try to take an extended break to do chores or run errands, it can easily take up your entire day, forcing you to work later into the night.

Tip #9: Balance Time with Kids at Home

If you have kids and are working from home, you are going to have to deal with some challenges. You need to try to find a good balance here. Explain to your family that when you are working you can’t be frequently interrupted. You can use some of the same strategies you would use in the office for dealing with people who constantly try to interrupt you, such as closed doors, headphones, etc. Ask your kids to be patient and provide them with activities to keep them occupied. Then, once you are done working, you can give all your attention to your kids. When you are with your kids, make sure you keep your focus on them and leave work to the regular hours you’ve set. This separation between work and family time will help you maintain a positive work-life balance.

Tip #10: Create a Workspace Away from Temptations and Distractions

In order to be productive while working from home, you need to pretend that you’re still in an office. This means avoiding all temptations that could distract you from working. If you were in an office, you wouldn’t be watching TV, doing dishes, or playing fetch with your dog, so you shouldn’t let yourself be distracted by these while you work from home. If you are tempted to turn on Netflix while you work, go to a room without a TV. If the dirty dishes are begging to be washed, stay away from the kitchen. You should get your chores done before or after work and leave the TV for unwinding after your workday is over. If you can avoid distractions, you will be much more productive, and you will have more time to do fun things with your family after work.

Become a Member of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce

As you are working from home right now, you may be concerned about your business’s future. We at the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce want to help you and your small business. Members of the Chamber receive support and encouragement as well as a number of other benefits. When you become a member, you will have access to resources to help your business grow, including learning opportunities, referrals, local economic news, promotion of your business, and more. If you want to take advantage of all the great benefits offered by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce to help your small business become more successful, even during uncertain times, become a member today. Reach out to us online or at 865-397-9642 for more information.

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