Consider this – 3.7 million people in the United States work from home at least half of the time. Growth in technology is no doubt the culprit behind this statistic, as telecommuting has grown by a whopping 103% since 2005. Simply put, it’s easier to get your work done while sitting in your jammies these days.
But the dream of waking up late, sipping on a homemade mug of coffee on your couch, and “making your own hours” isn’t always so simple. In order to stay productive, healthy, and sane, remote workers must follow some simple rules.
Set a Schedule – and Stick to it
Human beings need structure and routine. It’s based on an evolutionary imperative to maintain order in our environment and reduce the amount of choices we need to make throughout the day. Ever wonder why torture methods that employ unpredictable sensory experiences (light, music, whatever) are so effective?
Although the notion of waking up whenever you feel like it sounds incredible, the reality is that you must build a solid routine, even in the absence of a boss. Create guard-rails for your work-day – blocks of hours where you must accomplish certain tasks, or focus on certain areas of your work. Set aside time for yourself – for eating, for general breaks, for looking out the window – just like you would at the office. Your brain will thank you.
Get Outside and Exercise
Most people get some outdoor time during their commute to work. Allow yourself the freedom and flexibility to take a walk and soak up that Vitamin D. Removing yourself from your work environment can essentially reset your brain and thought processes. Have you ever taken a walk during the midst of trying to solve a difficult problem? When we stop focusing so intently, the answer often reveals itself.
Maintain your exercise routine, too. If you don’t have one, make one. Exercising your body not only makes you feel better, it also increases your alertness and energy throughout the day, making you more productive.
Create and Define Your Work Space
Our bodies are fine tuned to act in specific ways when in specific areas. Just as your bed turns on the switch in your brain that says “sleep now,” your work space should inform you that it’s time to be productive. Create an area that is separate from other areas of your living space to be as productive as possible. Yes, this means you probably shouldn’t be laying back in your recliner while typing on your laptop.
Talk to Real People – in Person
Lastly, make sure to interact with real people for a portion of your day. Although communication technology has become incredibly efficient, there can still be a stark feeling of remoteness, even during video chats. We are social creatures by nature, and you should chat with some real humans several times a day to avoid feeling isolated.
By following some simple rules and creating self-imposed boundaries (more information and insights are available at www.envision-consulting.com), you can improve your productivity and maintain both your physical and mental health. If you already count yourself as one of the fortunate member of the at-home workforce, you can ensure that you keep that privilege.