Working from home is great. You can set your own schedule, choose your own surroundings, and wear whatever you want. But it’s not without its challenges. You face distractions from within and without – from family members and pets to erratic schedules, cluttered work spaces, and never-ending household chores.

You learn to put your phone on silent and cloister away with your computer, trying your hardest to ignore the rest of the world. You stay in your pajamas, skip lunch, and burn the candle at both ends in an effort to get more accomplished.

But it doesn’t really work that way, does it?

Skipping lunch is fine once in a while, but doing it every day ends up hurting your mind and body more than helping. Ignoring everyone around you is okay in a life-or-death situation, but shutting them out every day only hurts your relationships in the long-run. Staying up late and getting up early may make you feel like you’re working harder, but it actually impairs your focus and extinguishes your creativity.

How can you improve your work-from-home experience, so you not only feel better mentally and physically, but do your job better as well?

Here are 7 ideas to help you succeed at working from home:

1. Rest adequately.

Your ideal workday starts with a good night’s sleep! Research shows that we sleep better when we maintain a consistent sleep-wake cycle – so when you set your alarm for the morning, set one for the evening as well. Use that to make sure you stop working at least an hour before bedtime, and give yourself time to wind down before trying to sleep.

Don’t neglect resting during the day either! When you hit that midafternoon slump, or your thoughts just get too jumbled to focus, stop for 20-30 minutes and do something relaxing. You could get some shut-eye, read a book, call a friend, take in nature, or tinker with your latest hobby.

2. Eat to think.

Low glycemic foods that are rich in vitamins or minerals provide a more gradual, longer-lasting boost of energy than our normal go-to snacks of chips, candy bars, and cans of soda. Instead of gravitating to sugary or processed foods for quick energy boosts, start your day off with eggs and fresh fruit, and keep some “brain booster” snacks on hand like almonds or pumpkin seeds.

Hydration matters too: it increases circulation to all the organs in your body, including your brain, which helps your neurons fire more quickly and efficiently. A good rule of thumb is to divide your body weight in half, and drink that many ounces of water or non-caffeinated tea. For an extra boost of flavor and nutrition, try slicing a favorite fruit into your water bottle!

3. Aim for sprints, not marathons.

Instead of running in fear from your mile-long to do list, start by simply doing the next thing. A simple way to get yourself going is by setting a timer. Experiment to find your most productive length (usually 20-60 minutes), then use that time for work only! No texting, checking email, getting snacks, or daydreaming about the future. You can deal with those things once the timer goes off!

4. Get moving.

If you’re using a timer to get more work done faster (and hopefully better!), set 5-10 minute breaks in between sessions to walk or stretch (bonus points for getting fresh air!). Movement boosts blood flow to the brain so you can think more clearly, and helps release tension from your neck and shoulders. Do it consistently, and you’ll have more energy both physically and mentally.

5. Change your routine.

Routine is wonderful, but sometimes we get stuck in a rut. Decide to mix things up a little! Try using a stand-up desk, move to a different location in your house or community, rearrange your big rocks for each day, get up an hour earlier, or even simply eat lunch at a different time or place. It doesn’t have to be big or permanent: just try changing something small for a few days and see how it goes.

6. Treat your senses.

Do you like your workspace? If it’s dull and boring, you won’t be very eager to spend time there and the littlest distraction will pull you away. Spruce up your space by incorporating your senses: add a small bouquet of wildflowers, keep a small jar of your favorite chocolate nearby, diffuse an energizing scent like peppermint, play soft music (as long as it doesn’t distract you!), or keep a sweater nearby in a favorite color. Add pictures of loved ones, funny cards, or knickknacks that bring a smile to your face.

7. Think positively.

Perhaps the most effective way is to change your mindset. Instead of grumbling that you have to do something, remind yourself that you get to do it! Instead of focusing on how much you don’t want to make that phone call or tackle that difficult project, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you can do this, one bite a time. Tell your mind to be positive, and your actions will follow suit.

Tell me something! What other tips do you have to boost your work-from-home experience?


Image credit: Life-of-Pix