Best Practices for the At-Home Employee

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As great as working from home may seem, there are some traps to avoid in this lifestyle. Steer clear of these bad habits for the remote employee.

From not having to sit in traffic to getting to wear your PJs all day, working from home has a lot of advantages. For most people, not seeing their boss every day is reason enough to love working from the comfort of home.

But for some people, the comfort of home isn’t the most productive work environment. For these employees, working from home causes them to adopt some terrible habits.

Concerned that you’re starting to adopt some lousy WFH habits of your own? Here are the top five terrible remote work habits and how to break them.

Working Without a Set Routine

When you work in an office outside the home, you probably follow a set routine. You wake up at the same time every day so that you can get to work on time. Then, you grab a cup of coffee, head to your desk, and get down to business. When lunchtime rolls around, you take a break. When the day is over, you grab your coat and head home.

Having a routine helps us stay on track, be more productive, and accomplish our work goals.

But when you work from home, it’s easy to lose that sense of routine and start doing things at different times and in different ways.

To avoid this WFH pitfall, treat your home office the same as you would a traditional office.

Log on at the same time every day. Create a schedule for how you want your day to play out. Break for lunch and log off at the same time each day. Having a routine makes it easier to get organized and stay organized!

Sure, working in pajama pants may be comfortable, but it might not put you in the frame of mind to be productive. Sometimes the simple act of getting dressed as if you were going to work is all it takes to put yourself in the right mindset for work.

Working in Your Personal Space

It can be tempting to want to kick back on the couch or work from the comfort of your cozy bed with your laptop on your lap. But the more you bring your work into your personal spaces, the harder working (and relaxing at the end of the day) can become.

You deserve to have serene, calm, comfortable spaces throughout your home where you can chill out and relax at the end of the workday. Unfortunately, turning those comfortable spaces into workspaces blurs the line. It can make them feel less and less like relaxation spots.

Instead of working from your couch or bed, carve out a specific space in your home or apartment that’s only for work. Of course, a home office is ideal, but if you don’t have one, consider converting a closet into a small, makeshift office. At the very least, set up a small tabletop and a desk chair in the corner of your living room to create one spot in your home that’s only for work.

Having a specific space for work makes it easier to focus on your job and keeps your personal area feeling personal.

Giving In to Distractions

Distractions are everywhere, and if you give into all of them, you might not accomplish any work at all.

Does your dog bark all day in an attempt to get your attention? Do your friends call and text nonstop because they think working from home means you can chat all day? Is streaming a show in the background calling your attention away from your laptop screen?

Working remotely offers you the freedom to do all sorts of things while you work, but you have to be able to tune out distractions. An inexpensive pair of noise-canceling headphones are a great way to block out unwanted sounds!

It’s also important not to get distracted by household chores either. It’s perfectly fine to toss a load of laundry into the washer in the middle of the day, but don’t take on major projects when your boss needs you to be available. Re-organizing all of your kitchen cabinets or purging your bedroom closet are projects best left for days when you’re off the clock.

Skipping Lunch and Breaks

One of the worst habits you can develop when working from home is skipping lunch. One, it can lead to more snacking throughout the day. Two, skipping one solid mid-day meal can actually cause you to develop unhealthy eating habits. Three, food is fuel, and you can’t power up your brain or your body on coffee alone!

Plus, you know you’re not as pleasant when you’re thinking about your empty stomach. Taking the time to eat and let the food settle will bring out your best work and attitude.

Breaks are essential to both the mind and body, so carve out specific break times and stick to them every single day. Use a few minutes of each break to stretch your body, walk up and down the stairs, exercise, or walk around your apartment building. The more movement you can get in each day, the more productive you can be.

Working Around the Clock

When work is busy, and you have lots to do, it can be easy to fall into the trap of working all day and all night. But that’s never a good idea.

Resist the urge to work around the clock by setting a specific schedule where you log on and log off at the same time every day. That’s an easy way to protect your personal time, maintain good mental health, and establish a realistic work/life balance.

Be sure to let your boss, coworkers, and clients know what that schedule is. That way, they won’t expect you to answer calls or respond to emails outside of your available hours.

Conclusion

Rather than trying to break these bad habits after they’ve already developed, be proactive and take some steps to prevent them:

  • Create a routine, just like you would if you worked outside the home
  • Set up a designated workspace that you use only for work
  • Learn to tune out distractions
  • Take a lunch break every day
  • Maintain a work/life balance by logging on and logging off at the same time every day

Don’t wait until you’ve worked from home for a year or more to start developing good habits. Instead, put these practices into place from day one, and your home just might become your preferred office of choice!

Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with The Cynwyd to help them with their online marketing.

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