The amount of people deciding to work from home is increasing each year. Although there are many amazing benefits to that type of work, you need to be aware of the disadvantages.
One of the most difficult things for people working from home is that your productivity and focus naturally begins to decrease. After all, your home is where you are most comfortable, and your brain may switch into comfort mode very quickly.
Beyond that, there are other things to watch out for. Today we’ll look at the 5 most important things you need to avoid in order to successfully work from home.
No separation between work and office spaces
One of the biggest problems with working from home is the blending of your personal and professional spaces. You’ll soon find that working, sleeping, eating and leisuring all in the same place has some bad consequences. You can’t entirely enjoy the space as a leisure or home area, and neither can you really get into the work mood there.
What you need to do is to get yourself a dedicated working space. This doesn’t mean you need to go out and rent an office in some downtown skyscraper.
You can create your dedicated space right at home.
You don’t need to have a mansion in order to nominate a few rooms as your office. You don’t even need one separate room. What you need to do is identify a place that will allow you to use your computer, talk undisturbed on the phone, and keep all your important documents at hand.
This is true whether you live with others or not. The benefit of having a dedicated work space is so that you can get into a routine, the same way that your mind switches into work-mode when you get into the office. You need to trick your brain into doing the same thing here.
A disorganized office
Another common problem with working from home is that there are lots of distractions. One of the biggest is what happens when the dedicated work space is not organized well enough.
This means that your important documents are mixed in with unimportant ones, you’ve misplaced a client’s contacts, or you just can’t find the printer ink.
This leads you to spend a lot of time looking for the certain document or business card, and you grow frustrated.
Not only is it a major time waster, but it also decreases the professional mood of your space. You’ll begin to feel claustrophobic in your own home, and you’ll find that you won’t be able to concentrate well enough on the tasks at hand.
In order to remedy that, create dedicated spaces for certain things, including your documents, stationery, printing supplies, and other things. It may take an hour or two, but your productivity will definitely increase.
One of the biggest distractions may not come from you or your productivity levels. It could come from the people who live with you, be they family members or partners.
The reason for the disruptions may be valid, but they are disruptions nonetheless, and they are dragging you away from effectively working from home.
In these common scenarios, it is best to ask your family or partner for their cooperation. Work together to create some rules that will allow you to do your work and them to have as much freedom as necessary at home.
For example, you could create a system in which a slightly open door means you don’t mind being disturbed, but you would rather not be. A wide open door could mean that you can step away from your work easily, whereas the closed door means strictly no interruptions.
Although the beginning period may require lots of patience, soon everyone will be well-adjusted to the new system.
No set schedule
This particular problem happens a lot to freelancers in general, where there is no specific work schedule set. This means that they decide to begin whenever they feel like it, and continue working late into the night until they collapse from fatigue.
This may seem efficient, but it is actually not. What this is really causing is the blending of your personal and work mental spaces, which can cause lots of problems. One big one is procrastination, in which you are putting off completing a task until that magic time called ‘later.’ It could also mean you end up feeling guilty for not having gotten your work done in time, or feeling that you can never escape your work. You could feel depressed because you know you have lots of work to do (because of the procrastination), but you have no more energy to do it now or, seemingly, ever.
This is a consequence of bad planning or no planning at all. Set yourself a work schedule, one similar to traditional workers. Begin at 9 sharp, and end at 5 sharp. Take an hour for your lunch, but no longer than that. Be strict about when you work (just as you’re strict about where you work) and your brain and mental health will thank you for it.
All work and no play
One more important thing to avoid is the tendency to constantly work. This is the opposite of procrastination, a situation where you feel there’s always more to do and you spend most of your waking hours doing it.
It may not even mean actually sitting down in your home office and working on your computer. It could also be thinking about your work, concentrating on work problems and avoiding all other aspects of your life.
This is bad. Social isolation is one of the big causes of burnout and you could be heading that way.
Just as you set a strict schedule for your work, you should set one for your personal life. If you finish work at 5pm, set your social hours from around 7pm until 10pm. You should plan to meet friends, go to the movies, have pizza nights, or whatever allows you to completely take a break from work.
It’s healthy, physically, psychologically and spiritually, and it will help you get so much more out of working from home.
These are only a few of the many pitfalls you should work to avoid in your work. Although they may seem small, they have a tendency to creep up on you and before you know it, you’re a victim to them.
Don’t let it get that far. Work hard on avoiding these five common mistakes, and you’ll find that working from home can be a truly wonderful experience.