At first, working from home sounds like a dream. No commute, staying in your pajamas all day, and no boss breathing down your neck is great. But what about all those pesky work-from-home challenges?
Yes, without meetings and co-workers distracting you all day you can be more productive. First, you have to deal with a new set of challeges to truly make the most of working from the comfort of your own home.
1. Working Constantly
Even if you work outside your home, there’s a growing problem of taking work home. You check emails all day and night. You may even be on call. When you work from home, it’s easy to let the lines between your work and personal life completely disappear. After all, your home is your workplace, so why not spend extra time getting more done?
On average, remote workers put in 16.8 more work days per year. This doesn’t count all those quick extras that happen after work is over, such as replying to emails.
It’s not about being unproductive – it’s about finding balance. Have set hours for your job and stick to them. For after-hours emails, set an auto-responder to say you’ll reply during office hours. Having a balance helps you be more productive, which is always a good thing.
2. Too Many Distractions
Offices are notoriously distracting. So is your home. Many people are surprised to discover their homes aren’t quite as quiet and peaceful as they expected. If you live with others, you have family or roommates who might not see you as actually working since you’re home. They’ll want to talk to you, ask you to do things, or just make a lot of noise while you’re busy.
Of course, even if you live alone, it’s easy to get distracted by turning on the TV, scrolling through social media, looking outside, or anything else you can find to procrastinate.
Overcome this challenge by explaining to everyone why you need privacy. If possible, have a dedicated office space with a closed door. Play music to drown out noises and definitely don’t work where you can watch TV.
3. Feeling Lonely
One of the lesser-known work from home challenges is loneliness. Sure, you may love being away from nosy co-workers spreading gossip all day; however, it’s just you all day long. You may start to miss the general socialization of an office environment. You also tend to feel out of the loop when it comes to communications.
Use communication tools and platforms to stay in touch with your office. If you work for yourself, go to networking events. These events help you socialize and grow your business. Make plans to go out with friends and family after work or just call them during your lunch break.
4. Managing Your Time
Time management is a challenge no matter where you’re working. However, at home, you don’t have anyone physically there to make sure you’re getting things done. Procrastination feels good at first, but trying to rush through everything at the last minute never helps your productivity.
In a Gallop poll, 79 percent of Americans say they often feel stressed. Part of that comes because 41 percent saying they don’t feel they have enough time to do everything.
There are a few ways to better manage your time to get more done and still have a balance between work and personal:
- Have strict office hours – You’ll feel more motivated to complete tasks more quickly.
- Schedule your time – Use a planner to block out what you need to do every hour at work.
- Take frequent breaks – More breaks increase productivity and prevent you from burning out throughout the day.
- Limit distractions – You’ll stay focused on your work with fewer distractions.
- Work during your most productive hours – Everyone’s hours are different, but if you can set custom hours to best fit your needs, you’ll use your time more wisely.
This is one of the hardest work-from-home obstacles to deal with. The biggest problem is you don’t always have control over technology. Computers crash without warning. Servers go down. Your Internet slows down or cuts off. The list goes on and on.
So, what can do you do? While you can’t be prepared for everything, you can try to plan in advance with a few backups in the event something does go wrong, including:
- Have a backup computer or tablet – An older device works fine as a backup.
- Add hot-spot data to your phone’s data plan if possible – This gives you a backup Internet connection.
- Work during off hours – Connection speeds slow down during peak hours. If possible, try to do your most Internet-intensive tasks outside of peak hours.
- Explain your situation – Most people will understand if you explain what’s going on.
6. Staying Motivated
Working from home is fun at first, but then it just becomes work. Staying motivated to work by yourself isn’t easy. That’s why you have to make it more enjoyable. Take breaks where you dance around your office or eat a favorite snack. Reward yourself at the end of each day with something you love to do. You can even gamify your day.
Work from home challenges aren’t impossible to overcome. As you adjust, you’ll increase your productivity and feel happier.