Most articles focus on the glamorous aspects of working from home. You’ve likely read countless posts bragging about how the author is writing while in their pajamas, that there’s no line to access the coffeemaker, and that they can blast their music as loudly as they like without anyone complaining.
While it’s true that you can reap numerous health benefits by working from home (including an overall better work-life balance!), these effects don’t just magically appear. You can’t just pop on your favorite PJs, sit at your desk, and expect everything else to fall into place. The key word in “work from home” is “work.”
Think I’m being a buzzkill? Have faith: working from home is amazing and magical. But it takes some “prep” to do it right.
It all starts with creating the perfect home office environment.
1. Balanced Clean-Up
The tidiness of your home office is ultimately going to be a matter of personal preference, and it may take you a while to strike the perfect balance.
Albert Einstein once said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” That’s a pretty strong case for having a few knick-knacks and paper stacks in your workspace. Who wants to have a completely bare desk when you risk one of history’s greatest thinkers looking down and thinking you’ve got nothing between your ears?
On the other hand, you don’t want your home office looking like it belongs on an episode of Hoarders. Namely because, you might die via an unexpected avalanche. You won’t get much work done if you’re six feet under a pile of filth.
As a good rule of thumb, keep the things in your home office primarily work-related. It’s fine to have a few, non-distracting, “life” items that bring you joy. You don’t want to feel like you’re working from a prison cell. Pictures of your family, motivational posters, inspiring paintings, or even a few action figures displayed on a shelf are all great choices.
You should be able to move, and work, with ease. If you start feeling cramped, it’s time for a clean-up. If you’re getting distracted too easily, it’s a sign too many “life” items have made their way into your work zone.
2. Learn to Say “No”
Anyone whose worked in the customer service industry knows the importance of saying “yes” as often as possible. But the “yes” mindset can unravel your work environment quickly when you’re in a home office.
When your adorable daughter, Tina, prances into your office during work hours and asks if you want to play Mouse Trap with her, you’re going to be tempted to say “yes.” But board games will have to wait. And so will that invite to Starbucks from your high school buddy, Jorge, who “just wants to catch up.” You have a deadline to meet, and “coffee’s for closers.”
When you work from home, you have to become a master of scheduling and a tyrant of staying on track. That’s only possible if you become intimately comfortable with saying the word “no.”
Politely, but firmly, make it clear to your family, friends, and/or roommates that although your work environment is cozier than most people’s, your work hours are dedicated to work and work alone. Don’t be afraid to close the door to your home office if you need to create a visible boundary.
You can always say “yes” later, when your self-assigned work period for the day has ended.
3. Use Technology to Your Advantage
Want to clear off more desk space? Instead of jotting tasks down on scraps of paper, write up your to-do list for the day using an online app, or within your website’s backend.
You can also prevent inopportune messages or calls during work hours by setting up an online booking form. Set specific days/hours to speak with clients and allow them to only contact you during your chosen timeframe.
There are also endless apps available for time tracking, blocking distractions, and generally keeping organized. Your home office environment extends past your physical desk top. Make sure your computer desktop maintains a top-notch working environment as well.
It’s hard to deny the amazing benefits and convenience of working from home. Make the most of the experience by keeping your home office and technology in peak condition. You’ll find that a happy office translates to a happier and more productive lifestyle.