Most people who spend their days working in an office have a rather romanticised idea of what it is to work from home. They imagine that it involves slowly rolling out of bed at 11 and leisurely whipping up some breakfast before slumping down on the sofa in your dressing gown and switching on your laptop; but not before turning on the TV. Some may well do this but it is highly doubtful that they will do well, as to truly 'work' from home you need to have the kind of self-discipline and motivation that very few people possess in actuality.
There is no doubt that working from home does give you a lot of flexibility, it is one of its benefits; but if you want to be successful this should be taken advantage of sparingly, or incorporated in to a positive routine. Establishing a routine is just as essential when working from home as it is when working in an office; which means waking up, starting to work, having lunch, going to bed, etc. at a set time.
Already this goes against what the majority of people think working from home is all about, but what needs to be understood is that no matter where you work, it is still work and it needs to be approached as such. Observing the kinds of practices that are regular in offices may help, which means getting changed out of your pyjamas and into something, not necessarily formal, but something that establishes in your mind that you are not lounging around.
Separating things in your mind is extremely important if you want to work from home effectively, which means during the time in which you're working you ought to avoid areas or activities that you would normally associate with relaxing. It may be difficult at first, what with your comfy sofa just metres away, but one of the first things you should do when working from home is get a chair and desk that you use for work, and work alone; as it will help distance the comforts of home from your mind.
You may be starting to get the impression that working from home is not possible for everyone and, no matter what, some people will find it all but impossible to work from home with the same level of efficiency that would be achieved in a more formal office environment. However, here are some suggestions that may help to increase discipline and productivity, or possibly make you realise that it is simply not for you.
Remain connected: One of the biggest problems with working from home is that you have no one there to talk to or motivate you. Even if there are only 2 people working together in a space they often act as means of keeping the other on track; as even if you do get wrapped up in conversation it is easier to say “we should probably get back to work” to someone else than to yourself.
Keep to a schedule: Work during set times and then stop! One of the biggest pitfalls for those who work from home is that their home becomes their office, and they can never seem to get out of work-mode. This is a very serious element of working from home as being unable to unwind will not only cause the quality of your work to suffer, but it will also result in undue stress for you and your family.
Get out for a bit: There is nothing worse than spending all day, every day in the same place, and sometimes the most productive thing you can do is get out and go for a walk or socialise with friends. It is important to find a balance though, as it can be very easy to use this as an excuse to get out of working; this is the kind of situation that requires the aforementioned self-discipline.
Separate 'work' from 'home': Being around the house all day you may notice things such as you're low on milk or that the washing is piling up, but these things are not work related and should not be tackled during the hours you should have set aside for work. You may think it will only take a moment, but whilst doing one you will likely notice something else and want to do that; it is best to simply not invite that kind of temptation.
Say no: As established at the beginning of this article, most people will not view you as working from home as being particularly serious. Your mother may ring to say she is going to come round for an hour, your friend may ask you to pop round and feed their cat whilst they are away; it doesn't matter what the reason is, if you could not do it if you were working in an office, you should not do it if you are working from home.
Communicate: Just because no one is around you does not mean that others should not be kept in the know. If there is anyone else even remotely involved in what you are working on be sure to keep them apprised of your progress, preferably via voice or video calls. This will give you a sense of accountability, which can help motivate you to work even if you're feeling lethargic.