When you’re working from home, it can be tempting to stay in your pajamas, take frequent snack breaks, and work your schedule around daytime TV shows. But in reality, if you want to be as productive as possible, you’ve got to set some personal ground rules— and stick to them. We gathered these9rules that might help you organize your workspace and create the best work environment at home.
9 Designate an Office Space
When you’re at home, it can be tempting to bring your laptop to bed or layout on the living room couch. But it is best to designate a specific area in your home that is for work only, even if it’s just a corner and not an office. It helps you stay organized, and being in that work-only space will get your mind in the right mode.
8 Invest in Office Furniture
Using your coffee table or a nightstand to get your work done isn’t good for your productivity—or your back. Check out Ikea’s table bar for customizable desk options that range from around $50 to under $200. When shopping for a chair, keep in mind that one-size-does-not-fit-all, so make sure you try out a variety of chairs in person to determine what feels comfortable for your body so that you know you’re making a solid investment.
7 Create a Schedule
Without a set timeframe, you’ll allow yourself to get distracted and pulled in by the many things that can sidetrack you at home, whether it’s being distracted by pings from social media, a hungry teenager who is more than capable of finding a snack without your help, or simply your own compulsion to spontaneously clean out your closet. Having set hours, like you would in an office, you’ll be more efficient and effective at completing your tasks. This also means limiting your work to a set number of hour each day, rather than leaving things open-ended; pacing yourself will help prevent you from burning yourself out or pulling an unnecessary all-nighter, scenarios that can ultimately limit your productivity over the long run.
6 Ditch the PJs
One of the benefits of working from home should be that you can roll out of bed, stay in your PJs, and not worry about what you look like, right? Wrong. A shower, clean clothes, and a good breakfast will get you out of lazy-mode and into a working one. A good rule to remember is if you wouldn’t do it at an actual office, you probably shouldn’t do it working at home.
5 Turn Off the TV
While there are many benefits to working from home, the ability to have a show droning on in the background should not be one of them. Leave the One Day at a Time marathon for before or after work hours.
4 Personal Time
A Nielsen survey revealed that the average person spends over half their waking day looking at a screen. Imagine how much you could accomplish if you could reign that in and focus some of that time on the tasks you actually want to complete. So, unless you work as a social community manager, make an effort to keep the personal-only checking and browsing list for your personal time, before or after your work schedule begins. No cheating!
3 Assign a Break Time
While you should definitely have a set schedule, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break. Go outside and get a little sunlight, eat some lunch, or even use this time to check your personal email before returning to the task at hand. And especially if working in a stationary position, sprinkle in “microbreaks” throughout your day by taking less than a minute to stand up and stretch, close your eyes and take some cleansing breaths, or give a beloved pet some love.
2 Mental Block? Don’t Give Up
Just because there isn’t a supervisor over your shoulder monitoring your work, doesn’t mean that you can give up and head to the couch when things get tough. If you do that too often, it may become a hard habit to break afterward. When you experience any kind of mental block, try switching work tasks or taking a snack break to clear your mind — sometimes stepping back for a bit can give you space to think.
Being at home can get a little lonely, and unlike when you’re in an office environment, you can go for hours without talking to another human. Interaction and conversation with another person can be refreshing and also an igniter of new ideas; so whether it’s the postman, a neighbor, or the woman at the local coffee shop, squeeze a little face-to-face with other adults into your day.