15 Smart Tips for People Who (or Want to) Work From Home

Is it your dream to work from home? The phenomena of working anywhere – also called telecommuting, working from a home office, being a digital nomad – is catching on. No longer the arena of millennials and digital nomads, more and more people and companies are seriously considering this flexible working arrangement.

Work anywhere converts talk about how flexible and more productive this arrangement has made them. Others also say that they are able to balance their personal and family life with the demands of work. However, like everything in life, it takes a lot of work to make it work. To help you along, here are 15 smart tips to consider for those who want to work from home.

1. Is working from home for you?

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If you are still thinking of making the switch, it is best to ask yourself whether this arrangement will work for you. Are you a self-starter when it comes to working? Are you self-motivated? Having a great work ethic is a must if you want to do anywhere work.

Study and weigh the advantages and disadvantages. Working from a home office means no more long commutes, no need to dress up that much, no office politics. It also means being closer to distractions such as an attention-seeking toddler or housework waiting to be done and not having other teams or colleagues around. Consider all the pros and cons of working from home carefully. There are loads of resources online that will help you decide.

2. Set your workspace at home and keep it sacred

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Anywhere work can refer to working out of a home office or anywhere that is not a formal office setting. Other locations include a coffee shop or a co-working space. The more popular choice because of its practicality is to work from your own home.

If you are going to work from home, you need to set a space as your work area, that is separate from the rest of the house where you can focus on the tasks at hand. It can be challenging if you have limited space at home, but the key is to choose a corner where you can set up a sturdy stable and a comfortable chair. While it’s much better to have a room to yourself, this may be impossible for small spaces like apartments and condominiums. Non-permanent dividers such as partitions or bookshelves can help you create a distinct space for your home office.

3. Essential home office design tips

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Have enough space to move around.

Whether you have a room of your own or just a corner, your actual workspace should have enough space to maneuver around and organize all your works tools and documents. Get the largest desk that can fit into your space, preferably against a wall and near a window. A built-in table or desk is also an option for small spaces. Make sure you have ample legroom. Spring for a swivel chair with ergonomic support. Wheels are optional unless you have enough space and have the need to be that mobile.

Let the light in.

Aside from a sturdy table and a comfortable chair, your workspace should also get proper lighting. Natural light from the outside is best like that coming from a window. Proper artificial lighting is also essential – an overhead light if you work through the night and a table lamp for work that requires closer lighting. According to experts, lighting that is cool white or natural white which has hues in between blue and yellow is best for work areas.

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Less clutter is better. 

A quick search on Pinterest will show you a wide variety of home office designs that are minimalist and as clutter free as possible. Only what is essential to your work should be found on your office desk: your personal computer or laptop, a notebook for jotting down your thoughts, a pen. The rest of your desk should be clear so that you can be flexible enough to move things around when needed. To keep clutter to a minimum, designate a regular schedule (at the end of a workday or end of the week) to clear your files and anything else that has piled up on your table.

Get proper storage. 

The trick to keeping your desk free of clutter is a good storage system. If you work with a lot of files and paper, tuck them away in a filing case that is within reach. Nowadays, you can limit the piling up of physical files by switching to a totally digital filing system. The rule of thumb is if you do not need a hard copy, it is best to keep it digital.

Tame your cables.

Better technology is already available that will enable you to have fewer wires and cables running across your table. Keyboards and mice can run on Bluetooth connection, while monitors and speakers can be connected through WiFi. If there is no escaping cables, make use of cable tamers or cable management solutions to keep them tidy.

Add a personal touch.

If you work in the creative fields, chances are you will not have a plain looking workspace. It won’t hurt to add a personal touch so long as you don’t overdo it. A small potted plant or a simple vase with flowers would work. Or even a favorite framed artwork. The color green helps in concentration and focus so keep that in mind.

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4. Pointers for productivity in a work anywhere set up

Set boundaries and limits with family and friends. 

The problem with you working from a home office is that your family and friends may assume that you are accessible all the time. That is why it is important for you to set boundaries with them as soon as you start. For family members especially children, make them understand that you are still doing work, except that you doing it not in the confines of an office like before. It is advisable to set your regular work hours which can work around your family’s schedules.

For example, working moms usually start work after they have sent the kids off to school and get off work by the time they come back. If you have young children, set a time when you take a break and play with them. Friends should be told as much, as some may innocently think you have all the time in the world to chat with them on the phone or have long lunches.

Plan your workday before you sit down and work. Stick to your plan.

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This is where being a self-starter comes handy. To ensure a more productive day or week, take a few minutes to make your to-do list. Indicate when tasks are due as well as which tasks need to be prioritized. Start with a daily task list sto keep track of your projects. If you can, look forward and set what needs to be accomplished at the end of the work week. Some do it the old-fashioned way and write it down on notepads or Post-its, but some prefer digital tools like Todoist, Wunderlist or Google Tasks.

Be flexible.

A change of setting will often do you good and keep you engaged. And because you are not stuck in the office, that means you can be more flexible with your workday. Take that much-needed power nap or that energizing walk around the neighborhood, if you feel like it. You can and should also schedule a work day outside of your home office, like a coffee shop or a co-working space. This way, you can socialize and be among people who have the same mindset.

Invest in good technology, including a noise-cancelling headset with a mute button. 

This is more for you keeping your clients and principals assured that you are serious and hard at work. Imagine being in the middle of a video conference call or an online meeting when your two-year-old child suddenly screams from the other room, or the neighbor’s dog suddenly barks. The mute button or function is your weapon in cases like these.

It can also work the other way around when you need to focus on a certain task and require some level of quiet to finish it.

Make use of online storage solutions.

In keeping with your less clutter philosophy, you should seriously consider using online solutions such as cloud storage. With many available (and most of them for free) such as Google Drive, Dropbox and iCloud, you never have to worry about having access to pertinent files wherever you are.

5. More practical tips

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Prepare every day as if you were going to the office.

Some people say that you should do your morning routine the same way – wake up, take breakfast, take a bath and dress up as if you were heading to the company. You don’t need to dress up as fancily as you would when going to the office. Just dress comfortably, unless you are hosting a video conference which requires you to look somewhat presentable.

Keep snacking to a minimum.

Let’s face it – you are bound to lead a sedentary life if you work at your desk the whole day and do not exercise. So, it’s better to control your snacking habit or at least make it healthier. Water is always a good option. Swap chips with crudites of carrots, celery, cucumber, for example. Add in some regular exercise for better health now and in the long run.

Ready to work anywhere?

It looks like you are ready to take on the challenges of a home-based job and, of course, benefits that come with this arrangement. Take our smart tips to heart and soon enough, you will be reaping all the rewards of a more productive and stress-free work environment.

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