Working from Home? Here are 7 Tips to Up Your WFH Game

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Woman working from home on top of a pile of paperwork with a cat at her side
Our Best Tips for Working from Home

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, I was working in a windowless office 40 hours a week, dreading the traffic on my daily commute.

But then the pandemic shifted the workspace paradigm, and after I started working from home, I struggled to return to the office.

Now, I work from home and on the road full-time, and I’m not alone — more people are working from home than ever before.

But as a result, we’ve begun to encounter some unique problems of WFH life, including burnout and new kinds of distractions.

Whether you’re self-employed or working remotely, it’s crucial to find a healthy work life balance.

To that end, we’ve created a list of 7 tips for working from home that will help boost your productivity and remind you why you left the office behind in the first place.

Create a dedicated work space

With work and home now overlapping, you’ll have to create space between the two.

If you set up a dedicated area that’s just for work, nothing else, then you can separate your job from the rest of your day-to-day and get into the right mindset when needed.

I’ll admit; I’m guilty of switching things up and occasionally working from my couch or my backyard rather than my desk.

But this often makes it harder to focus, and though I may be tempted to sit outside on a sunny day, I know I’ll get much more done indoors.

If space is tight where you live and work, it’s tough to dedicate an area for just one use.

Search online for home office inspiration and get creative with what you’ve got — there are plenty of different ways to make the most of whatever room you have, large or small.

Invest in a comfortable setup

As someone with chronic back issues, I knew early on that I’d need a high-quality home office setup to get anything done.

This is yet another upside to working from home, as you get to pick out the best furniture for you and your tastes (no more uncomfortable office chairs).

Since this is going to be your livelihood, focus on finding the necessities.

Even if it’s a splurge, take some time to save up for that ergonomic chair that will help solve your “tech neck” issues.

Depending on where you work, your employer might also cover these costs.

Building an ideal work from home space will help you maximize the time spent at your home office.

As you get started, research to find out which setup will work for you: A standing desk, or a plush seat cushion?

A personal space heater, or a mini fan? The choice is yours.

Control your work environment

As you’re probably already aware, your environment makes a huge impact on the quality (and quantity) of your work.

Keep your home office clean, use noise-canceling headphones if you’re bothered by nearby sounds, and be sure to lock your door during working hours.

Having a stable, predictable space will help you get work done faster and with less distractions.

And since you’re no longer subject to the whims of coworkers and managers, you can now take full control over your surroundings, all the way down to the lighting you use.

Typical office spaces are full of distractions, so being able to have final say on your home office will help significantly boost your productivity.

Plus, this process will likely make your working hours much more pleasant in general.

Communicate work boundaries with housemates

If you live with family members or roommates, you should create work boundaries as soon as possible to prevent unwanted interruptions.

Try to stick to specific working hours and, in the nicest way possible, tell your housemates to leave you alone at certain times.

This will hopefully forestall people videobombing your Zoom calls or dragging you away from your desk.

It might be stressful to initiate these kinds of conversations, but trust me, you’ll be much more stressed if you start falling behind on work.

Chances are, your housemates will appreciate having clear guidelines in place.

On the other hand, if they don’t respect those guidelines, it may be time to consider looking for a new work from home situation.

Get out of the house regularly

The typical work-from-home “commute” is from bed to desk and back again, and don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty nice.

But it may cause some cabin fever.

Though it hopefully goes without saying, you still need to get out of the house, even if you’re not going to an office.

Take lunch breaks, walk your dog around your neighborhood, or grab a drink from your favorite coffee shop before you sit down to work.

With all the time and money you save on commuting, your non-working hours can be stretched much further than you might expect.

As long as you don’t let these breaks completely take over your day, you’ll likely find that you return to work feeling refreshed and more relaxed.

You might even gain some new perspective on a task or problem you’re trying to solve.

Parlay “work from home” into “work from wherever”

Once you’ve mastered the art of working from home, you can explore working from wherever you want.

I’ve taken my work overseas to houseboats in Borneo and hostels in Japan with nary a deadline missed (always check for wifi or cell service ahead of time, though).

Granted, it will be harder to maintain focus on the road than at your dedicated home office.

But working while traveling helps mix things up if you’re feeling stuck or isolated. For many, working from wherever you want is one of the biggest benefits of the WFH arrangement.

Conversely, make sure to take trips without any work involved.

These days, fewer remote workers are using their vacation time than in-office workers.

But getting some good, old-fashioned R&R is essential to avoiding burnout, even if you feel you might not need it yet.

Master your work life balance

When you work from home, it’s easy to let work and your everyday life blend into one another, which can negatively impact the quality of both.

But if you stay vigilant, you can easily keep the two separate and master that all-important work life balance.

Always try to create borders between your work and your life, like only working during certain hours to keep from either procrastinating or overworking.

And just like at an in-office job, when work is done, it’s done — step away from your desk and go get some fresh air.

If you already know that you’ll have a hard time setting these boundaries, you can ask friends and family to help hold you accountable.

It’s one thing to think you might be working too much (or too little, for that matter), but another to hear it confirmed.

Work from home (the right way)

Since working from home has become so popular, it’s only natural that the modern workspace has shifted, bringing with it new upsides and downsides alike.

But if you’re self-employed or working remotely, you can manage these issues by following the tips above.

Between increased flexibility, comfort, time savings, and so on, the benefits of remote work are nearly endless.

That said, you’ll need to make working from home work for you.

Otherwise, it can easily turn into another dreaded, difficult job.

Don’t be intimidated by the thought of developing your ideal WFH setup, though — it can be an exciting process!

Pretty soon, you might be wondering how you ever got anything done in a traditional office.

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