Those who believe working at home is pressure-free are mistaken. Deadlines seem more urgent in a setting where you are bombarded with distractions that are hard to ignore. Household chores, the television set, the refrigerator and microwave, crying or arguing kids and yes, the comfy couch in the living room, all conspire to tear you away from your work desk.
Many would argue that it's an act of sheer insanity to combine the home and work environments. But when circumstances make working at home the best option, it is up to you to maintain a sane and sensible approach to the workday. Here's how to balance working at home.
Organization and total commitment are the keys to keeping your sanity while you work at home. From the beginning, you must view your work with as much seriousness and react with as much urgency as if there was an impatient and demanding boss in the same room. Identify all potential distractions and come up with concrete ways to overcome them. Set definite hours for the work day, and adhere to them. If you resolve not to give in to temptations for playing hooky, you will notice that tasks are completed on time and both your work and free time will be more relaxing.
Establish realistic short- and long-term goals. Consider what you need to accomplish each day and each week, and budget your work time accordingly. Develop a timeline for each project, identifying when individual tasks need to be completed. Then faithfully adhere to that schedule. If you are self-employed, be realistic in committing to specific jobs or assignments. There are only so many hours in a day. Overwork saps your physical energy and damages your mental health.
A proper work environment is vital to maximizing productivity and minimizing stress. Good lighting, a functional desk and comfortable chair all contribute to a sense of physical and mental well-being. Most importantly, maintain a reliable filing system. Know where everything is, so you can find whatever you need at a moment's notice. The chaos that results from clutter is itself a form of insanity.
One might think that working at home, without being subjected to co-workers' chatter or senseless interruptions, would automatically increase productivity. On the contrary, solitude – the absence of other human voices – can actually stifle creativity. If you find the silence deafening, introduce some background music, the kind that helps you think and relaxes your spirit, not the kind that makes you want to jump up and dance.
Those who work at home must resolve to learn from their mistakes, not dwell on them. Settling in to working at home is just as much an adjustment as starting a job in a new workplace. Staying focused and maintaining a positive outlook will keep you sane.