Six Easy Steps to Create a Stress-Free Home Office
You can experience both extreme happiness and deep pain when you work from home. Anyone who has felt the freedom of a pajama-clad office day can relate to those feelings. Anyone who has ever succumbed to Netflix binge-watching can relate to the feelings of anguish.
Although we love the idea of working remotely, it can be difficult to execute. These are the three biggest risks.
It’s impossible to get anything done. It’s like nothing. None at all.
Getting upset with your family members or having them get upset.
You can become a de facto hermit without any social skills.
I am a veteran of remote work and have experienced many frustrations. I have also tried out different solutions. Some of these solutions worked. Some have failed spectacularly.
I am sharing the ones that worked.
Here’s the problem. Remote work is not going to eliminate all risks and problems. These techniques can help you improve your productivity, make peace with your family and stay socially functional.
1. Set boundaries between home & office.
This is the most important point.
In a recent article I explained how having a designated place to work creates boundaries between work and home.
Although it may sound quaint and provincial, this idea of boundaries is actually smart. You can effectively seperate your work space from your living space in your mind and daily practice by allowing your living space to be used for work.
This idea is rooted in psychology, especially the habit loop. Habit researchers believe that we form habits in a cyclical fashion.
We are first reminded.
Then we get into the routine, the habit.
Finally, we get a reward.
The process begins all over again.
Here’s how it looks:
Image SourceThe habit loop works in our favor when we crave, for example, a Snickers bar every single day at 3:00 pm. (Sorry, if that caused something.
The habit loop works in our favor as we create and strengthen a routine of running on the treadmill to offset the damage from the Snickers bars.
The habit loop works in the context of a separate workplace like this:
Reminder: Monday morning at 9 am It’s time to go to work!
Routine: You enter your office. This is a separate area of your house that has a desk, your computer and a door you can close. This is your daily routine.
Reward: You get stuff done. This makes you feel good and your brain celebrates by pumping dopamine into your bloodstream. This is always a nice feeling.
You are creating a habit loop simply by having a different place to work. Your presence in the office space you have created is key to the effectiveness of your habit loop.
A separate office has a greater practical advantage. You are out of the hair of your family, and they are out of yours. They can live and work together, and they don’t have to be in conflict.
I know that not everyone who works from home has the luxury to have an extra bedroom. Here are some suggestions.
A detached office for your property
A rented office space
A coffee shop
Any room with a door
A garage or basement that has been renovated
A corner of the family or bedroom, etc.
A little routine to clear the kitchen table and get you started with your work
It is best to have a dedicated workspace. If this is not possible, you can at least establish a morning routine to signal your brain that it’s now time to take action.
2. Set working hours.
Some people don’t get the work from home thing.
Many of my friends and acquaintances couldn’t grasp the idea when I first started working remotely.
Even if they understood, they believed my schedule was flexible enough for them to make their social demands.
Here’s how it worked in a less-hypothetical scenario: Joe has to move a piano on Tuesday morning. Bob could be called.