How To Make Working From Home Work For You

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As a kid, most people dream of working in a big corner office with one of those leather chairs that swivels around and a secretary outside your door, ready and willing to make you awesome sandwiches at the buzz of a buzzer.

Not me. Though that sandwich thing would’ve been pretty nifty, as a kid, I dreamed of being able to earn a living without having to change out of my pajamas. I wanted to work from home.

But when I got the chance to make my couch my office, I found that trading in my work shoes for my house slippers also meant trading in my productivity.

Removed from the office, I was surrounded by distractions. Everything from a fully-stocked fridge to my favourite daytime television show could pull me away from my laptop, and soon I was stretching my workday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. just to get everything finished.

I let my professional and personal lives blend into one and soon there were no remnants of either of them. My couch was my office and my work folders held my laundry.

According to Statistics Canada, more than one in five university-graduate employees work at home and this trend of shifting work to the rec room continues to climb.

If you’re one of the numerous part-time or full-time employees working out of your home, here are some tips for ensuring that your change in venue doesn’t change your level of productivity:

Create your own office

Working from home means that you don’t have to battle your awkward desk chair for the best desk-to-thigh height, but having an entire house to work from can have its own problems.

To help avoid getting distracted by the food in the fridge or the temptation to take a mid-morning bubble bath, designate an area as your work space and treat it like your office. Make sure that it is away from any main common spaces, giving you enough privacy to focus on your work.

Having a designated space for work will not only help you have somewhere to get things done, but will also help you leave your work when your work day has come to an end.

Create your own work day

If you typically subscribe to the 9-to-5 work day, don’t let your comfy comforter and big-screen TV distract you into a new routine. Creating and maintaining a regular work day, with scheduled hours that are devoted to your work and nothing else, will help ensure that you are still productive, even when working in your boxers.

If you’re sharing your humble abode with other people, make sure they know your schedule and know not to bother you during those hours. Just because you’re working at home does not mean that you’re not working. Try to build as much of a separation from home and work activities as possible to guarantee that they both get done.

Make to-do lists

It works for your groceries, so why not for your work tasks? Writing yourself daily to-do lists will help keep track of your progress throughout the day. Keeping a daily tally of your projects and work items will also ensure that you don’t spend your work day flipping through family photo albums because it will give you a set of deadlines.

Act like you’re in the office

Even if you’re working in your home office, the lack of supervision can sometimes result in a lack of self discipline. When checking Facebook once becomes a full-out stalk-fest of your high school best friend’s ex-boyfriend and his weird new car, things have gone too far.

According to Human Resource Specialist Michael Timmes, people have more problems with social media when they’re working from home – not just going on it but also with what they post. For instance, posting about doing errands during the workday may make others think that you aren’t getting your work done, so you have to be conscious of what you’re posting online and when.

Finally, don’t forget to keep your tone in emails, on phone calls and your general conduct professional even if you’re not in a professional work environment.

 Photo credit: Working from home…

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About the author

Ishani Nath is a proud McMaster alum, aspiring writer and current journalism grad student at Ryerson University. When she's not hammering out articles, she can usually be found on a patio or nestled on a couch trying to keep up with those crazy Kardashians. She hopes to one day have a job that makes her excited to get up each morning, or at least one that gives her free food. Intrigued? Enthralled? Learn more by following her on @ishaninath.