12 Years At Home: Tips from a Home-Working Pro
For many, working from home for the foreseeable future will be new. Not me. I’ve been working remotely for 12 years. And unlike most home workers, I’m not worried about children and pets noisily wandering into my conference calls. I live alone. Cabin fever and work focus are bigger tickets to me.
Depending on how long this situation lasts, many will find they like the experience once they’re into the groove. I’ve made it work so well that I fear ever having to work in an office again.
First, understand that most of us have a point at which we’re tired of social interactions. After a day at a bustling office, the desire for additional social time with friends (or family) can wane. For me, living alone and working from home benefits my personal life because it makes me antsier to be around people.
In the current environment, getting out to be around people isn’t encouraged. But I find that getting out of the house to be adjacent to people works fine. So, I “schedule” personal calls after work when I go for a walk on a nearby trail. It’s a winning combination of exercise and a scenery change that works with phone calls to make the time pass quicker – and walks sometimes longer.
Also, working from home lets you move during off-hours. Grocery shopping during lunch hour avoids crowds and is closer to store delivery times, reducing the likelihood of bare shelves – and frozen and refrigerated foods go straight home. Midday workouts are also less crowded but if you want to workout at home there are tons of resources available right now.
They say office workers should get up and move around during the day. Working from home makes this easy, but you have to ensure you do it right. When I’m focused on a project, I naturally get up and pace/procrastinate. Too often my pacing takes me to the refrigerator. It’s better to walk around the block than to stick a spoon in the ice cream. Be aware of your movements and the results. Movement is good, movement to the kitchen isn’t.
However, I can’t ignore specific requests (like an email arrival tone). It’s typically a cry for specific assistance which always gets my focused attention.
Working from home strips away habits to their bare bones and allows you to examine their impetus and make precise changes. You can’t pretend your visit to Jane’s desk was work-related because when you’re home alone, those walkabouts can only be simple procrastination.
I enjoy working from home and can’t imagine going back to an office. It’s changed the way I work and eliminated a lot of distraction while freeing me to run errands when stores are empty and visit friends when my conversational gas tank is full.
If you’re working from home for the first time, embrace the (likely temporary) experiment and the self-reflection of your work habits it brings. Who knows, like me, you might never want to return to an office. But if you do, you’ll return with a clearer understanding of how you work best.