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September 6, 2019 General

Four Simple Rules for Working from Home

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By Brainsell Editorial Team

Congrats! You found a job that allows you to work remotely from home. No more sitting in traffic leaving early to catch your train. You can just roll out of bed and start your day.

Working remotely can be great for self-starters, but even with good self-motivational habits you still need to create some structure around your work process to truly be productive at home. Yes, you read that right – there are rules for remote work. Here are four simple rules for staying focused in your home office.

Rule 1: Dress for success.

To be clear, wearing sweats, shorts or yoga pants is fine, but always try to maintain your daily hygiene routine and make sure you look presentable. Don’t skip out on brushing your hair or teeth. If you like to wear makeup, take that consideration. Do whatever you would do before you leave home as if you were commuting to work.

Why is this important? How you look and the way you perceive your appearance affects your productivity. If you think you look bad, you may not perform as well or as confidently. You also want to be prepared in the event that you have to participate in an unexpected face-to-face meeting or run to the office for an emergency. On top of this, video calls are becoming more common place in modern workplace environments – and while you may have actually just rolled out of bed, you don’t want to look like you did.

Rule 2: Set boundaries for work hours.

If you don’t set hard boundaries for yourself while working from home, you may become stressed out, burned out or unhappy with your work – and your life. This is why it’s really important to walk away from your desk at the end of the day and mentally punch the clock at a set time of day. If your home office is a space in a common room, turn off your computer and put away all your papers when the day is done. If your office is a separate room, close the door and make a point not to spend any more time in that room until tomorrow when work begins again.

There will be exceptions to this rule when you have a looming deadline or a client keeps you working longer hours – just like how you would stay late at the office. However, this shouldn’t be the norm.

Rule 3: Take breaks but don’t get distracted.

It’s easy to get enveloped in your work and lose yourself while working from home. It’s important that you walk away from your desk periodically to avoid burnout, just like you would in an office setting. Although you can’t chat with your colleagues in the cubicle next to you as you normally would, try taking a 15-minute walk, grabbing a cup of coffee, or spending a little time with a pet on your break.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between a break and a distraction. Everyone is different, but many remote workers report feeling unmotivated after doing certain break activities that require extended attention such as cooking, chores, or watching television. Try to avoid these kinds of breaks as much as possible. If there are other people in your household, make sure they understand that even though you may be home, you’re working and you’re not available. (This includes friends and neighbors). Learn to say no.

Rule 4: Stay in touch with your colleagues.

Whether through Microsoft Teams, Skype, Slack or any of the myriad software solutions available, it’s important to be a part of the team even if you’re not physically at the office with them. If your company relies on a phone system to communicate, take necessary steps to set up a phone line in your home that connects to the office phone system. It may also be wise to share your personal cell phone or home phone numbers with team members so they can text or call you for emergencies.

Being able to message with your colleagues via multiple channels at any time ensures that you remain in the loop and can continue to contribute value or share ideas. You may not be in the office, but you should be never feel disconnected from the office.

So, how do you stay focused while working from home? Tweet us your tips and tricks at @BrainSell!

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