Whether you work from home every day, a few days a week, or on a flexible basis depending upon factors like your workload and meetings, take it from me—someone who once worked at home miserably and ended up back in an office for eight years, but who now comfortably and productively calls home my office—a few simple tips can make or break the experience. And don’t be surprised if some of them are the complete opposite of what you’re heard before.
• Work in your robe if you want. It seems like “experts” always have something negative to say about working in your pj’s, but if a shower and getting dressed slows down your momentum when you wake up, then skip it. Some of my most productive days have taken place in my robe, makeup-less, my bed-tousled hair shoved in a ponytail. And you know what? After hours of dedicated work, a 2 p.m. shower can feel luxurious and well-earned. If you prefer to stick to a morning routine though, then go for it. It’s a personal preference.
• Avoid grazing. It’s tempting to skip meals and make lots of little trips to the kitchen for a bite of this or a handful of that. Before you know it, you’re still not entirely full but you’ve probably eaten more calories than you realize. Make a real lunch a priority, taking time to eat it in the kitchen at a proper table away from your office or computer.
• Take mini breaks. Let’s face it: Folks who work in offices easily kill an hour each day with office chitchat, coffee runs, Internet surfing. One of the perks of working from home is that no one is monitoring where you are and when. So go for a half hour walk, weed in your garden, watch something on Netflix, call a friend. Do something that gets you away from the screen and uses your brain in a different way. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to get back to work.
• Schedule phone calls with your clients or employers. It’s true that almost everything can be done via e-mail these days, but a good old-fashioned phone call or Skype chat helps keep you in people’s mind—and reminds them that you’re invested in your work relationship.
• When people ask what you do, don’t preface it with “I work from home.” Those of us who call our home our office tend to feel wrongly apologetic about it, and often lead with that phrase. Instead, own your work. “I’m a consultant.” I’m an editor.” “I’m an artist.” If the conversation calls for more details, feel free to share that you work from home, but do so proudly.
• End your day when you’re ready. When you work from home, it can be easy to get into a groove and really pound out work, especially if you’re not hampered by meetings or other office diversions. So if, for instance, you plowed through what you thought would take eight hours in four, call it a day and don’t feel guilty about it. After all, this is part of the beauty of working from home. You’re in charge of your time, and as long as you’re meeting demands, then shape your day however you like.
• Related to the above: work at night if you want. Again, experts like to maintain that those of us who work from home have chaotic schedules and never really leave the “office.” I say, do what works for you—and if that means spending an afternoon chaperoning your kid’s field trip or going to a doctor’s appointment, then feel free to jump on the computer during odd hours. As long as you’re not working constantly or losing sleep, then work when it works.
Photo Credit: bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock