How to Work from Home without Losing Your Mind
It seems like a dream. You wake up at 8:30 for your 9am work day, meander to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, and enjoy some Netflix while allowing your brain to prep for the day ahead. At 8:55, you pour your second cup of coffee, shuffle to your desk (still in your pajamas), open your computer, and poof! you’re at work making that money.
However, those who work from home soon find that the dream can turn into a bit of a nightmare. You might start talking to yourself in order to hear another human voice. You may realize that, after three days, you still haven’t taken a shower. You’ll develop a pallor after you haven’t left the house in over a week.
Like everything, working from home presents its own challenges, many of which revolve around the fact that working remotely is lonely. You have no coworkers to gossip with, you’re in charge of your breaks, and when work gets busy, it’s easy to stay inside and forget to have a social life.
Luckily, we’ve been there, and we have some tricks up our sleeves. Here are some ways to combat the craziness when you work at home.
Set a morning routine
When your home becomes your office, it’s easy to simply work in your pajamas. After all, what’s the point in getting dressed when no one will see you, anyway? You’ll be tempted to roll out of bed straight to your work computer, since working from home affords you that luxury.
If you keep that habit, it becomes difficult to separate work mode from home mode. Working in the same clothes that you slept in might be easy and comfortable, but you’ll also find yourself becoming a little lazy.
It’s important to compartmentalize your office space and your home space. Part of that is adjusting the way you dress and act when you’re in work mode. Create a morning routine similar to what you would have if you worked in an office. Take a shower. Change your clothes. Do a morning workout. And, sit at your computer at a similar time every morning. This will do wonders for your mental health.
It doesn’t mean that you have to put on a suit or a full face of makeup. Let’s face it, being able to wear leggings and slippers to work is awesome. But, you should at least change into clean clothes that you didn’t sleep in the night before.
Create a home office
Along with using your clothes and appearance to separate work mode from relaxing mode, you need to set up a designated working place.
Whether you have a separate room that you can make into an office, or you designate a corner in your studio apartment as your work area, you need to have a space that’s specifically for working.
Set a designated work area.
A home office helps you separate work mode from relax mode.
This is also essential if you live with someone. They will know that when you’re in this work space, it’s your work time, and they need to treat you as though you’re at the office and leave you alone. Without a designated work space, it can be difficult for others to realize when you’re working and when you’re just playing on the computer, and this can be frustrating for everyone.
When you work from home, it’s so easy to forget to step away from the computer. You might get on a roll and forget what time it is. Or, you might just enjoy the thought of cramming an 8-hour work day into 6 hours and getting extra time to relax.
If you work straight through the day, your work and your mental health will suffer from it. We need breaks in order to rest our minds and emotions. Set a timer for every two or three hours, and when it goes off, take a 15 minute walk. Your brain and your heart will thank you for it.
Take up extracurricular activities
Perhaps the worst part of working from home is the lack of a social environment. Humans are social creatures, and even the biggest introverts need human interaction every once in a while.
Taking a class or joining a club will help fill the social void in your work-from-home life.
Pick up an activity or two after work that gets you around people. Depending on your social needs, this can be a monthly book club, a weekly writing workshop, or even just a fitness class. These activities will get you out of the house and around people when you might have just stayed at home.
Develop a relationship with your clients and/or remote team members
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you can’t have coworker friends. Our coworkers can sometimes be essential when you’re dealing with things like a crazy boss or having to do menial tasks that you hate.
Slack, Google Hangouts, and other remote resources are super helpful to help build relationships. Once you know your clients and/or other team members better, and you know that it’s something that they’re okay with, don’t be afraid to be a little less formal in your conversations. Make a joke. Ask how their day has been. Start building a remote coworking friendship like you might have in the office. This will help you feel more connected, and you won’t feel so alone.
When you work remotely full time, you’ll feel the craziness set in eventually. It’s important to take care of yourself, gauge your needs, and find ways to combat the loneliness. The above tips will help, but everyone is different, and you’ll need to find what works best for you. Try different methods, brainstorm new ideas, and make sure that you add them into a routine so that you consistently practice them, and soon your work-from-home experience will no longer bring you to the point of lunacy.