Every time I tell people that I work from home I get envious looks and coos of “oh you’re so lucky!” But seriously, working from home can be hellish at times. Unlike working in an office, slacking off and doing as little as possible does not equate to a “fun day at work”–in fact, it can result in some major guilt and self-loathing. If you get to work from home some days, have a flexible schedule or work from a home office, here are a couple of things you must do.
When you work in an office, your schedule for the day is pretty much set in stone—lunch at 1pm, meeting at 3pm, and scrambling to finish everything else in the holes in between. When you work from home, however, the free flowing nature of your day might seem like a boon—at first. Then you realise that when you spend 3 hours having lunch and 2 hours browsing Facebook, you don’t get to clock out at 6pm. No, you get to enjoy an entire night of misery and playing catch-up.
The only way around it is to schedule ruthlessly. Draw up a timetable and schedule every darn thing, from lunchtime to your leisure hours. Neglect to do that and a simple task can take the entire day thanks to a lack of urgency and discipline.
Eliminate time wasters and distractions
The typical Singaporean workplace thrives on there being enough time wasters and distractions to keep an office worker occupied while he waits for his boss to leave. Facebook surfing is the only thing keeping many employees awake, while smoke breaks and sneaking off for a kopi are the highlights of the day.
When you work from home, all of a sudden you want to eliminate every distraction possible. Rather than a minefield of boredom busters, the Internet becomes a curse. If you want to be efficient, eliminate as many distractions as you can. That might mean disconnecting from the Internet whenever you don’t need it and silencing your smartphone. There’s nothing like getting lost in the labyrinth of a WhatsApp chat only to realise the sun is setting and you haven’t done a thing all day.
Master your energy cycles
When you work in an office, you clock in at 9 and then work as best as you can until it’s time to go home. No matter how sleepy you are from an eventful night before or how badly you’re crashing after a heavy lunch, you have no choice but to put one foot in front of the other. Even if your productivity level is basically zero, you still get paid for your time.
However, once you’re left to your own devices in the big bad world of working from home, it becomes crucial to understand and master your energy cycles. Know when your energy peaks and troughs, and then schedule complicated tasks that require lots of concentration and creativity to coincide with the times when your energy is high. Schedule mundane tasks like replying to emails or doing admin to times when your energy is low. There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank computer screen for hours because your brain just won’t get moving.
Have you ever worked from home? Share your experiences in the comments!