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If you work from home you’ll know the boundaries between work and personal life can get blurred — if you work too hard, you will have no personal life left and on the other hand if procrastination, lunches and laundry become your default mode you’ll never get anything done.
Pulling off the balancing act of staying productive and staying sane can be difficult so here are four handy tips to help you get your work done and at the same time enjoy the perks of working from home.
1. Establish a routine
Don’t let yourself revert to teenagerdom. Every morning set your alarm as you normally would if you were working for someone else. Make it a rule to get up at the same time every day and then stick to a morning routine which should include eating a good breakfast, getting out of your pyjamas and having a shower you’ll feel less lethargic and more ready for the working day. Don't be tempted to lie-in. If you do you will just end up working through your lunch-break and into the evening when you should be relaxing with family and friends.
If you dress like you're going to work you'll feel professional and ready for the working day so make sure you’re dressed ready to nip off to an impromptu meeting, psychologically it puts you in the work zone.
2. Organize and plan your schedules
Lists for both family and business related tasks will bring about better organization and order to the day. This will make it easier to have a family life and to work from home simultaneously.
Getting side-tracked with too much multitasking can leave you feeling overwhelmed. So finish each working day with the next one in mind. By reviewing your schedules, calendar, appointments, on-line meetings and whatever else you’ve got on your plate, you’ll be ready to take on the following day’s challenges.
Don't forget to include time for breaks in your schedules. Working long hours can decrease your marginal productivity and could even make you ill. Set an alarm every hour, so you know it's time to get up and stretch your legs, make a cup of tea or call a friend. Home-workers don’t get interrupted as much as their office working chums and can go overboard on focus, so make time and have a break.
3. Have a dedicated work space
Make sure you have a dedicated area for home working. You may not have the room to have a home office, but at least have a designated area for your work. Your workspace should be comfortable, cosy and away from any distractions. More importantly, it should also be professional, tidy and organised.
Having a separate space ensures you consciously that you’re there to work. It changes the state of mind from “I’m at home” to “I’m at work”. If you’ve got to share space – like working on the kitchen or dining room table – you’ll need to think about a ‘shut door’ policy with kids and partner as well as creating an environment that feels like work.
4. Create boundaries
A common problem when working from home is becoming permanently available in the eyes of your friends and family. The assumption is you can pop over for lunch just because you don’t have to get back to the office.
Be firm and set a precedent from the start. Set your social network and Skype to ‘invisible’ and explain to friends and family that you still need to be ‘at work’ during the day, even if you are not in an office.
Getting the basics right with home working can make the experience a really good one – but you have to put the structures in place to make it happen!