For the uninitiated, working from home may sound like a walk in the park compared to the daily grind of an in-office role. Many people approach working from home wearing rose-colored glasses, as visions of sitting on the couch all day, feet up, answering emails in fuzzy slippers dancing through their heads. Working from home certainly has its benefits, and if all-day-pj-wearing is high on your working environment priority list, then you can have that wish. It is not all lounging and unaccountability, however. The work level is just as taxing from home as it is in an office setting, so be prepared to attack tasks with the same amount of in-office motivation.
Finding the balance of work and home life sanity, especially when you stay in one spot for both, takes some adjusting. Here are three common complaints that work-from-homers lodge and simple solutions:
Problem: Lack of motivation.
Address this problem first when determining if a home office is right for you. When you have to be at a desk in a public setting, you spend time preparing for the day by showering, picking out an appropriate outfit, packing a lunch and readying your mind for the daily tasks on the drive, walk or bus ride in to the office. All of these routine items prep your mind and body for the hours of work ahead. Even if you despise your job, preparation to do it outside of the home is natural motivation. Working from home does not come with the same constraints; even if you run a business from your property and need to “get ready” before greeting customers, there is not much separation between personal and professional space.
Solution: Create motivation.
Avoid the urge to roll out of bed five minutes before you need to be on the clock. If possible, find a way to get out of the house for a bit before your shift starts. Take a neighborhood walk, go to the gym or run out to buy a cup of coffee. Change out of your pajamas, brush your teeth and even throw on some makeup if it makes you feel more in work mode.
Problem: Domestic distractions.
When you work in an office or brick-and-mortar location, you are generally responsible for keeping a small space neat and tidy. When your work environment encompasses your entire home, there are a lot of non-work tasks that vie for your attention. Dirty dishes, piles of laundry, pets that need to go outside, children that have constant requests… the list of household distractions is endless. If you are new to working at home, it is especially tricky to transition from the “when I’m home I take care of the house and my family” mode into one that also accommodates focused work.
Solution: Schedule household breaks.
If you really cannot turn off the voice in your head telling you that your household to-do list simply cannot wait, make time for those things too. Instead of getting up from your work station randomly, take five minutes of every hour to attend to household things. Of course, this must be adjusted if children are around and need you immediately; in this case, simply keep a pad of paper next to your computer or phone and jot down what you want to accomplish when you do take a break. This list will keep you from feeling overwhelmed by your home and will help you focus more efficiently on the work at hand.
Problem: Lack of socialization.
An office, store or factory provides its workers with instant interaction with other adults on a regular basis. Not everyone always gets along, but the basic act of socialization is a healthy one. Working in a team environment leads to higher levels of confidence and a feeling of belonging that is missing when work is done in a solo atmosphere.
Solution: Reach out.
If socialization is not an inherent part of your work routine, take the time to develop your own in-roads in that respect. Join a local gym and take fitness classes. Set up weekly lunches or coffee meetings with friends in the area. Take advantage of online ways to network and keep in touch with friends and family that are too far to see in person. It takes a little more work to keep relationships strong when your office is located at your home, but it is well worth the effort.
Whether you are an entrepreneur blazing your own trail, or simply taking advantage of your employer’s work-from-home policy, making a living in your own space is often more burdensome than people first realize. Make the most of the option by keeping your career separate from your home life and look for proactive ways to make, and keep, friends. Striking the balance between job and household duties takes some time and adjustment, but can end up yielding the best of both worlds.
About Author: Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com, the most trusted online business directory for small businesses that facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources and business news.
She spends much of her time establishing new relationships for Chamber, educating small business on the importance of web presence and contributes to a number of online publications. Megan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.