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If you’ve never worked from home before, you might be under the impression that working from home will make everything perfect. You think you will be really productive because you won’t have any annoying meetings to go to. You think your house will be spotless and you’ll have dinner on the table in record time every evening. The reality can come as a bit of a surprise.
Working from home has countless benefits like increased flexibility, no boss looking over your shoulder, and no commute. But it also brings up several challenges you might not have been expecting like feelings of isolation, lack of motivation, and even weight gain.
It’s hard to get used to the transition from working outside the home to working at home full time. You associate home with time off, relaxation, and not having to do any work. That’s all changed now! Now anytime you’re not working, you will feel guilty. You’ll also feel guilty if you’re working while household chores are building up around you. Finding the balance between the two is hard.
Once you’re aware of the potential challenges of working from home, you can take action to stop them becoming a problem. Read on for tips on how to make working from home work for you.
6 Challenges of Working from Home
Challenge #1: You feel lonely and isolated
Working from home can feel isolating. To be honest, I was surprised to find I felt isolated because I’ve always been happy in my own company. But being alone for 10 hours a day from Monday to Friday is a long time to be by yourself. If you live alone, it could be many more hours than this. It does your soul good to spend time with other people. It gets you out of your own head.
If you’re feeling lonely, then try to make an effort to meet up with people a few times a week or as much as you feel is necessary for your mental health.
- Join Meetup groups with people in your industry or who like the same hobbies you do.
- Work from the library or a café. This will let you have the best of both worlds. It can make you feel like you have colleagues because you’re working alongside other people, but they’re strangers so you won’t be tempted to chat with them as much.
- Get a fun side hustle like being an extra on TV. You get to meet all sorts of interesting people and make extra money on the side.
- Schedule things to make sure you see people. Invite friends or former colleagues to meet you for lunch or a drink after work.
- Connect with like-minded people online through Facebook groups, Twitter chats, or forums. You don’t have to leave the house to feel less isolated.
Related Reading: 8 Side Hustle Ideas I Can Vouch For
Challenge #2: You’re easily distracted
You might think that you’ll be less distracted when there are no colleagues to chat to or pointless meetings to attend. However, working from home brings a whole host of new distractions with it. No one is going to give out to you for being on the internet all day. Household chores become a lot more pressing when you’re surrounded by the mess all day long.
Making use of productivity tools and tricks will help you to block out the distractions and remain focused on your work.
First of all, write a to-do list so that you know exactly what to need to achieve each day. You can do this on paper or on your computer, whichever way suits you best. I just recently started using Asana to help me keep track of my to-do list. I like it because you can create different project lists and attach your to-dos to the appropriate list. This allows you to see your progress on specific projects, and you can also separate your personal to-dos from your work ones.
I also roughly follow the Pomodoro technique to keep me focused. The Pomodoro technique involves setting a timer for 25 minutes and focusing on a specific task for this entire time. When the time is up, you take a 5-minute break and then repeat the process as many times as you need. I do it a little bit differently. I set a timer for one hour. After an hour, I take a 5- or 10-minute break and then repeat the process as many times as I need to. It just shows you that you don’t have to follow these tips to the letter. You can change them up and make them work for you.
If you get distracted by the constant pinging of Facebook notifications, turn them off! My problem with turning off Facebook notifications is that I’ve gotten quite a few jobs from Facebook just by acting fast and responding to a post. If you don’t tend to get much work from Facebook, then try to avoid it while you’re working. You can catch up during your lunch break or in the evening.
Apps like Moment and AntiSocial can help you track how much time you’re spending on social media. Time you actually thought you were spending working!
Challenge #3: You don’t leave the house for days
One of my biggest struggles as someone who works from home is not making an effort to get outside enough. Some weeks I don’t leave the house for days at a time! That’s not good!
I’m trying to break this bad habit by going for walks, running errands during the day, and working from the library instead of home.
A bit of fresh air does a world of good. It clears your mind, makes you more aware of what’s going on around you, and stops you from feeling like you have cabin fever.
Related Reading: 4 Simple Ways to Stay Active When You Work from Home
Challenge #4: You can’t stop working
Many people who work from home struggle to get out of work mode. It’s hard to separate work from real life when they both happen in the same place. Suddenly home doesn’t feel like home anymore.
So how can you stop yourself from working 24/7?
Do you have a separate room for your office? Close the door after a certain time of the day. You wouldn’t go back into the office once you’d left for the day if you worked for someone else, would you? So don’t do it at home either.
Turn off email notifications. This will stop you from becoming distracted from conversations with your family or while reading a book in your downtime.
Give yourself set work hours. Decide what hours suit you best to get your work done and don’t work outside these hours unless it’s necessary to meet a deadline. Be strict with yourself.
The Financial Diet has some great tips for disconnecting after hours.
Related Content: How to Achieve the Perfect Work-Life Balance When You Work from Home
Challenge #5: You struggle to get into work mode
It can be really difficult to get into work mode when Netflix is calling you, or you can see a pile of washing out of the corner of your eye. You say you’re going to start working in a minute and then suddenly it’s 3 hours later and you’re still watching Suits. Here are some tips to help you start your work day.
- Create a routine. Some people crave routine, but that doesn’t mean that working from home can’t work for them. You’re free to schedule your work day however you want. If 9–5 suits how you like to work, then work those hours.
- Get dressed. Working in your pajamas doesn’t really lead to productivity. It just makes me feel icky! Getting properly dressed signals that the work day has started. You don’t have to wear business casual, jeans and a t-shirt are fine.
- Work from a proper desk and chair (preferably ergonomic). As much as I would love to work from bed or the sofa, it just doesn’t work for me. It’s also not that good for your back.
- Schedule time for household chores, just as you would schedule time to do your work. Knowing that you’re going to be doing your washing later in the day will stop you being distracted by the laundry pile when you’re supposed to be working.
- Take advantage of the flexibility you have. This is the best bit about working from home after all! If you want to see a movie during the day, do! If you want to visit a museum but want to avoid the crowds, go during the week when they’re quieter.
Related Reading: How to Identify and Fix Your Productivity Leaks
Challenge #6: You’re putting on weight
You might think that working from home will give you a lot more control over your weight. And for some people that’s true. But other people actually find it more difficult to control their weight when they’re at home.
In 2016 I lost 50 Ibs. At that time, I was working for a bank. Some of the things I did to help me lose so much weight were to take in leftovers for lunch, take healthy snacks to work, and stop eating treats brought in by my colleagues. Essentially, I only ate food that I had prepared myself.
Now that I work from home, I have 24-hour access to a kitchen filled with food, and it’s hard to say no to it. I’m determined not to let my weight creep back up, so I plan to do the following things to get myself back on track. Who’s with me?
- Package up your snacks as if you are going to work. Eat these and only these.
- Hide any other food in the cupboards. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Schedule time for exercising.
Related Reading: 3 Ways Meal Planning Can Improve Your Work-at-Home Life
Do you have any other tips for staying healthy while working from home?
If you’re dealing with any of the above challenges of working from home, I hope my suggestions will help you overcome them and make working from home work for you. But don’t forget that it’s ok if working from home is not for you. It doesn’t have to be for everyone.
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