Working at home can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand you get to work in the comfort of your home at your own pace and, on the other hand, it’s easy to develop bad habits which can be detrimental to your health and happiness. For example, your social life will likely suffer as you will probably work different hours from your friends and your health will likely deteriorate due to long periods of inactivity being in the house.
I’ve been working at home for the past 4 years full time and I have experienced this double-edged sword. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to make working at home more productive and healthier. Here are 5 tips that I have learned from my experience:
1. Buy An Ergonomic Chair. Sitting in a chair all day is bad for your back and posture. Back pain can be a serious long term problem and although it starts off as just a little pain, it can lead to major issues in later years. Back pain also decreases motivation and productivity as your brain will associate sitting down at your desk (and working) with pain. This will subconsciously make you want to take more breaks and waste time doing other things.
The simplest way to avoid back pain is to invest in a good ergonomic chair. Most workplaces have them so why wouldn’t you have one in your home office? Don’t worry if you do not have the money for a Herman Miller Aeron which retails at over $1000, there are cheaper alternatives such as the Steelcase Leap which is just as good. You can also save money by buying used chairs from liquidators or places such as eBay and Craigslist.
2. Buy A Wireless Keyboard and Mouse. A spaciousworkspace is essential as you want to be able to move as you please at your desk. You probably don’t want to see a bunch of wires on your desk either which is why wireless keyboards and mice are recommended.
Not only will they allow you to set your desk out exactly as you want it, if you are short of space and need a writing area you can simply lift your keyboard and put it elsewhere to create some extra space instantly.
3. Use To-Do Lists. So now that you are your own boss what do you do first? It’s important to organize your daily and weekly schedule when you do not have someone telling you what to do because it’s easy to waste your time doing things that do not have an impact on your bottom line.
To-do lists are simple and powerful ways to breakdown major tasks and allow you to plan your time. You will want to make a daily to-do list and then strike each one off when they are completed. There’s many ways to use these lists and you will probably develop your own system. Personally, I put all the items I need to accomplish for the day into their own time slots and work my way through them while scheduling for breaks and other intervals. If I am unable to finish everything one my to-do list in one day, I move it to the following day.
4. Schedule exercise at least 3 times a week. Travelling to work usually provides some form of physical activity every day i.e. walking. However, when working at home this physical activity is often reduced and many people do not even realize it. To compensate for this loss it’s a good idea to schedule exercise into your weekly routine as much as you can.
If you do not have enough time to travel to the gym frequently, alternatives include playing cardio sports such as Basketball Soccer or Tennis in the evening. If you are not a sports person, another alternative is to buy some home gym equipment such as a treadmill which will also give you more convenience if you are short on time.
Exercising frequently will help you keep off the excess weight and make you look and feel healthier. This change of scenery from your office will also help you mentally and improve motivation.
5. Make plans to meet people no matter how busy you are. It can be tempting to work all the time, especially if you are self employed and working at home. During the weeks and months that pass by, you’ll start to notice that you become less and less productive even though you spend more time at your desk. The reason for this is that your body gets tired from monotony and needs a chance to refresh itself. In order to prevent this, take at least one day off per week and try to do a social activity with family or friends.
Understanding how your body works is essential to being able to work at home efficiently. Some people may think that working at home gives you immense luxury and free time, although this can be true if you schedule your activities correctly, there are also a lot of hurdles to overcome. Hopefully the 5 tips presented in this article will help you avoid some of the common problems and improve your work at home experience drastically.
Jack Hogan is a full time freelance writer and a former human resources manager. He is also the owner of ResignationLetterExamples.net, a site which offers resignation letters for attorneys, police officers and other occupations.