Recently in between looking for work and building a few side projects of my own, I’ve been spending a lot of time working from home. Initially i thought this would be great: I get to cut down on costs, don’t have to travel far, and have all my stuff (and snacks!) close at hand!
However, there are challenges to working from home that I hadn’t expected. Unfortunately unlike some of you, I am not a being of iron will, and sitting in my kitchen to work, I sometimes find it difficult to get started in the morning. Additionally, on days where I stay inside to get on with stuff, I find myself feeling more isolated than I probably should. The lack of even casual social interaction is getting to me a little.
However, there are a few rules which have helped me in the past, and which I try to remember to stick to. Maybe they’ll help you too.
Keep separate physical contexts for work and play.
If you use the same place to do both work and fun activities, you’re going to have a bad time.
Physical context is important. Being in a place where you’re used to relaxing makes you want to relax and have fun. Similarly, being in a place you associate with work primes you to get on with the serious stuff.
An example: When I was at university, I had a single desk where I sat to work, play video games, browse Facebook and watch TV. I spent most of my free time at this desk.
This is a clear violation of this rule. The result was that when I had important work to get done, I was always wanting to slack off (and usually did).
Once I figured this out and started working from the library instead, I did a lot better.
In tight confines, you can still to keep separate places for work and play. In my case now, I try to only work at out kitchen desk, and only chill on the sofa. It's not perfect but it's better than nothing!
Commuting can be good.
Working from home, I have my place of work 12 steps from my bed. I don’t have much of a morning commute. Great, I thought; no travel, more sleep.
Thing is, we need a bit of time in the morning to wake up, focus, and get ready to seize the day. The morning commute was a time when I could that: the fresh air, exercise, and routine helped prime me for a productive day.
One trick is I love to leave the house, and walk around the block as though you are walking to work.
When you get back home after your commute, you arrive refreshed and ready to begin.
It’s been shown that even just the act of walking through a doorway can cause you to forget things. This small act could help you quiet whatever’s on your mind and focus on the task at hand.
Otherwise, working in other spaces can be great. Take advantage of your situation and go work in a coffee shop or park. The background noise of a public space can be great for concentrating and getting things done.
Don't neglect to take breaks
Don't shut yourself in until you meet your target. I'm particularly bad for this.
Regular breaks are an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and help you to take your mind off the task at hand and return afterwards with a fresh pair of eyes.
Your break should involve not looking at a computer. Go for a walk, a coffee, talk to people.
Talk to other people
Socialising is important for your health. Don't forget to get in touch with people regularly. Talk about what you're doing. You may get some interesting feedback, ideas, or even contacts who can help.
Someone might just give you a new angle that helps you with a problem you've been having.
And most importantly, it's fun. Don't forget to have fun!