Whether you have worked from home for several years or are relatively new to it, it is good to adopt working practices that will benefit you. The following are ones that I have found useful and are tips I would happily pass onto others.
Remember that you are at work
First and foremost it is important to remember that although you may be at home, you are actually supposed to be working! You may be sitting on your favourite chair in your house, but your employer is still paying you. You are at work. Therefore you need to adopt a mindset that remembers this.
There will probably be plenty of distractions at home but these need to be ignored. Some people are comfortable working with music being played and if that is you then fine. However for others this is too distracting.
If your job is one that is a responsive one (i.e. your work is to respond to calls) and you have cleared all your tasks then it might be appropriate to have the television on. You just need to be ready to respond to calls as soon as they arrive in.
Make sure your work station is comfortable
I cannot emphasise how essential it is to ensure that your work station is comfortable. It is not good for anyone to spend any length of time hunched over a laptop. If you persist in doing this you will encounter aches and pains in your neck and shoulders. Do not do this!
Not everyone has a designated room as a home office. Therefore some of us will need to work off the dining room table. If that is you, then I strongly recommend that you purchase an external keyboard to connect to your laptop and find something (for example: box files, hardback book, etc) to place your laptop on to bring it up to eye level. You will not regret this. Trust me! Whatever you do please do not setup your work station like the photo below.
Take breaks from your screen to stretch
No matter how comfortable your work station is our bodies do not like being sat in front of a laptop all day long. The general advice on this is that it is good to take at least a five to ten minute break each hour.
Our bodies can start to ache if we neglect to have breaks. To avoid unnecessary pain it is good to do some gentle stretching exercises to ensure our necks and shoulders remain flexible. I am not suggesting a fully blown workout! Just gently stretching. Trust me it works!
Take a lunch break
Following on from taking short breaks from the screen, it is wise to take an actual lunch break. Switch off your laptop and phone. Get away from your work station and have something to eat and drink. Please do not work straight through lunch. It is not a good habit.
My personal preference to is go for a short walk at lunchtime. I find this very beneficial. Exercise refreshes you not only physically but mentally too. Enjoy the fresh air and the break from work.
Have a start time and end time and stick to them
There does appear to be the temptation for people, when working from home, not to have a set start and end time to the day. It can be easy to work additional hours and not have a set finishing time for the day. Would you stay the night if you were still working in the office? If not then why do the same at home?
Also, there really is no need to spend the whole evening checking your laptop or phone for emails. It is not a good habit to develop. Do not worry the emails will still be there in the morning for you!
Separate work from home
If you are someone who does not have a dedicated office space in your home then you are no doubt working in a common communal part of your house. Therefore it is important to endeavour to separate work from home. You may be working from your dining table, but once you finish for the day you want to avoid staring at anything work related. You are at home and it is time to relax after a day at work. With that in mind, it is essential to put your work stuff away at the end of the day. It is not good for either you or your family to have your work on view on the dining room table each evening.
On a personal note I have found that putting my work equipment away at the end of each day has enabled me to relax and I no longer feel that I am at the office.
Put a padlock on your fridge
Finally, ensure that you have a padlock on your fridge and that someone else has the key to it! For some reason, when working from home, the fridge seems to draw me like a magnet. Too much time in the fridge can lead to putting on the pounds. This needs to be avoided!