– by Wes Colton, Introvert Unbound
Usually, when I tell people I work from home, they say how jealous they are and wish they could do the same. While working at home isn’t an option for most jobs, an increasing number of employers allow it.
But the real issue is that, even if it’s a possibility, most people struggle to get any work done when they’re not at the office. Even introverts, for whom working at home without having to interact with anyone is a dream.
Am I seriously suggesting that it’s somehow difficult to stay in your cozy home all day, dressed however you want, in quiet, comfortable surroundings, with an unlimited supply of your favorite beverage always on hand?
Damn right I am.
The sad truth is that people fall prey to distractions, including but not limited to the kitchen, bed, the Internet. The key is developing a routine to help you avoid these temptations when you’ve got work to do.
Here are the Ten Commandments I follow that have allowed me to successfully work from home for almost a decade.
1) Work Space
The first thing you need to do is set up a dedicated work space.
Ideally, you’d have a guest room that you can make into your office (you can even write it off at tax time). If you don’t have extra room, devote a desk anywhere in your house to the purpose, such as the corner of your living room.
That being said, I’d be careful about setting up in your bedroom, as that bed can look mighty inviting at mid-day. I wouldn’t recommend using your kitchen table, either. It should be a place that, when you sit down (or stand) at it, you know you’re there to work.
A standing desk, ergonomic keyboard, and trackpad make it as comfortable as possible to be at your computer. Otherwise, you can harm your eyes, neck, back, wrists, you name it.
This is often overlooked, but it’s crucial to make sure you’re working in a way that doesn’t impact your physical health over the long term.
3) Work Sessions
People who work from home are often unproductive because of inconsistency. They fluctuate from dabbling for a few minutes before getting a snack, to plowing through four hours straight until their neck is cricked and their eyeballs are dry from staring at the screen.
The key, I’ve found, is short, powerful bursts of work that are long enough to get some real work done, but short enough that you can plow through even if you’re distracted, it’s hard, or you’re bored.
I do 45 minute sessions from the time I get up until quitting time, with breaks in between that can be short (stretching, a meal) or longer (workout, a walk).
4) Get Dressed
While you may feel tempted to sit around all day in your pajamas, underwear, or robe, don’t. By all means, dress comfortably—having no one to impress is part of what’s excellent about working from home. But actually get dressed, even if it’s just a sweatsuit.
Getting dressed reminds you that you’ve got important tasks to do and you’re serious about completing them. You’ve got to make that distinction between relaxation and work.
5) App Lock
Get a program called SelfControl or something similar that allows you to block certain websites that you might be drawn to during your workday, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, HornyCollegeSluts.com, etc. You can choose how long the sites are blocked for and the best thing about the program is that there is literally no way to disable it once you’ve locked a site.
6) Airplane Mode
Unless you’re expecting a call, put your phone on airplane mode during your work sessions. You can answer that text later.
Even if just doing a few yoga poses in between sessions or an entire weight training regiment (which, if you use free weights, you can also do at home!), it’s good to break up your sedentary day with physical exercise.
Just because you have a desk job doesn’t mean you’ve got an excuse not to stay fit.
8) Coffee Shops
Working at home is pretty sweet. But sometimes the days can feel long and isolating. So halfway through most workdays, I do a work session or two at a local coffeeshop.
I get outside, get in a walk, change my surroundings, and chat with some folks. Being around people is important for introverts so you don’t get too used to being alone all the time (both a blessing and a curse).
What’s more, the usually awful coffee shop music and occasional annoying overheard conversation can make you appreciate how nice it will be to finish the rest of your work at home. For that reason, I’d recommend bringing ear buds to listen to music, but make sure that doesn’t keep you from talking to at least one person.
9) Don’t Masturbate
I know this sounds like a joke, but it’s actually one of the most distracting temptations you’ll face when working at home. Don’t allow yourself the luxury until your work is completed for the day, otherwise it’ll always be in the back of your mind as a possibility.
10) No Substances
It may be tempting to have a beer, sip of whisky, hit of weed (or whatever your drug of choice) while you’re working, especially towards the end of the day. But, other than caffeine, don’t do it, or you’ll get used to it. Instead, if you partake, use it as a reward for a job well done at the end of the day.
Hopefully these little tips will help improve your working at home experience or inspire you to give it a try for the first time. If you’ve got any other Commandments, leave them in the comments!