Starting your work day by grabbing a cup of coffee, plopping on your couch, and opening your laptop can be a nice perk. The commute takes about 10 seconds, and you never have to worry about finding a parking space.
But working from home still presents challenges — and not just whether to wear pajamas, socks, or slippers (more on that later). Things need to get done regardless of your “office,” which is increasingly becoming a loose term. Last year, about 23 percent of employed Americans did all or some of their work from home each week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The autonomy of telecommuting comes with lots of flexibility, and getting the most out of each day can make a major difference.
Here are some ways to be more efficient when working from home:
Create a work schedule
Many people are more productive when they are working within a framework. Distractions are everywhere at home — those snacks in the kitchen are awfully tempting — and setting clear goals and expectations will help keep you on track. Even some of the most savvy leaders have a daily routine. You also might want to consider being an early bird.
Set up a work space
Sure, the couch is comfortable. Just maybe don’t use it as your primary work area. It’s important to differentiate your home environment from your work environment. If your work space is too casual, or isn’t effectively separated from your home, peak productivity may be lost. Where you work can dictate how you work.
There can be as many distractions at home as the office — if not more. It’s important to set boundaries for family members who may think this is a great time to chat. Same goes for personal phone calls and package deliveries. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you have to answer the door.
Hey, it’s 2017. There are plenty of ways to stay connected with co-workers and clients from the comforts of home. Use Google Hangouts or Skype for meetings. Or go out for lunch or coffee. There’s no substitute for face time — and it may be more critical than you think. A study by professors at Stanford and Beijing University found the promotion rate for those who worked from home dropped by 50 percent. That means employers might be overlooking candidates who could potentially be bigger contributors.
It’s tempting to just roll out of bed, pull up those pajamas, and slide into work mode. But getting dressed as if you were going to the office can put you in a better frame of mind. Dr. Karen Pine, a fashion psychologist, says there is a powerful link between a person’s attire and the way they behave. Clothes can alter your mood, boost self-esteem, and project confidence.
It can be easy to lose track of time at home. Be sure to give yourself breaks, which can improve your overall output. A recent report suggests that every 20 minutes you’re on a computer or mobile device, look away from the computer at an object 20 feet away or further for at least 20 seconds. Physical activity also relieves stress, so you can always break up your day with a workout lunch.
Take care of yourself
The kitchen is just a few steps away, and grabbing a snack — or two, or three, or four — throughout the day can be awfully tempting. One of the best ways to resist the urge is to create a meal schedule. Studies also have shown that staying hydrated will reduce your urge to eat and help avoid head and body aches.