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Working from home isn’t ideal for everyone, but if you can master the art of staying focused when the TV beckons you might just open up a world of new opportunities. More people are working from home than ever. What’s the reality of telecommuting really like, though? And how do you keep a healthy work/life balance? Let’s dig into some of the top tips for remote workers.

A Dedicated Work Space

Note that we didn’t say an office. The luxury of an an entirely unused room isn’t within everyone’s grasp, that’s for sure. If you have the ability to set up a home office, then you should most certainly go for it. If not, then a desk that you use exclusively for work is a nice second option.

The key here is to set up a space that helps you change modes. Choose a desk that makes you feel professional. Decorate it as you would an office space. Most importantly, don’t use it for other reasons, ideally. This will help you mentally prepare for a day of work by letting you “arrive” at work when you sit down.

Dress For Work

This doesn’t have to mean business suits, of course. As long as it’s not the PJs you woke up in, you’ll be able to draw that line between time off and work time. We’re certainly not going to stop you if you do decide to go a little more formal, though. Many people who work from home say that putting on shoes is their big game-changer. If you feel strange walking around your home in them, reserve a pair of indoor-only shoes to keep things clean.

Take Breaks

Breaks are a mandated part of employment in the US for a reason. They’re important for your overall well-being, and they make you a more productive employee. Whether it’s getting up for a few minutes to walk around the block or pop out for lunch, taking time to yourself in the middle of the day is important.

Get Outside

Speaking of grabbing lunch outside your house, getting out of your home office is important. This is especially true if you find that you can go for days at a time without stepping out your front door. Not only is some sunshine vital for vitamin D, seeing other humans will help your brain, too.

Something as simple as getting the mail or taking the trash out can remind you that the outside world exists. That touchstone is important when your life has narrowed into this one space. Make a point of getting out with friends for a happy hour or see a movie solo.

Get a Companion

One of the most common struggles of people who want pets is the hours they work. With a telecommuting job, those reasons often fly out the window. If you’re the type that longs for a companion, it might be time to take the plunge. Plus, they’ll often help you get outside! Who can resist the puppy eyes when they’re angling for a walk to the park?

Change Up Where Your Work From

It’s not always easy to find a coffeeshop to work from, depending on where you live. Plus, it might not be economically advisable if you’re on a tight budget. If you’re feeling like you’ve hit a slump, though, changing your scenery can provide that extra motivation. Maybe you’re craving a little more human interaction than you’ve been getting without even realizing it!

Set Your Hours

Similar to your dress code, setting regular hours can help provide that structure your work day needs for you to be successful. Even if your position is entirely flexible, this can help prevent you from overworking. If you’re in regular contact with any coworkers or clients, it might smooth things over with those relationships as well. The key, though, is to respect both your work time as well as your free time. You owe it to your job to show up on time, and you owe it to yourself to clock out on time.

Find Your Organizational Sweet Spot

People who work from home often have jobs that require them to stay on top of their own responsibilities. They don’t have managers breathing down their necks. No one is going to remind them about important meetings around the water cooler. They need to find ways to stay accountable to their projects mostly on their own. Find the tools, whether physical or digital, that will help you achieve that.

There are plenty of apps for to-do lists and deadlines out there that are free to download and use. A physical planner may be more your style. The same goes for note-taking during conference calls, meetings or interactions with managers on important projects. Once you have a system in place, you can feel confident in your ability to juggle your responsibilities without constantly second guessing yourself.

Play Hard to Get

Have you ever spent a day being bombarded by unnecessary questions? This is often a problem in a real office, but it afflicts the remote worker as well. The nice thing? At home, you likely have the ability to shut it off. Try one of those apps that blocks notifications for an hour, or simply turn your phone on airplane mode. For most employers, going an hour without a response while you’re working hard at a project isn’t the end of the world. This is especially important if you have multiple avenues where people can contact you, such as Slack channels, text, messaging platforms, email, calling, etc.

If you’ve been working from home for a while or have been considering the switch, we hope these tips help you become more productive and a bit happier. There are so many benefits to telecommuting, even if it’s just for part of the week or a set period of time. With a little extra effort, you can prevent some of the common pitfalls while working remotely.