Career Advice

3 Rules to Bend When You’re Working From Home

posted on September 27, 2019 | by Sanhita Mukherjee

3 Rules to Bend When You’re Working From Home

If you’re just starting to work from home (or have been doing so for a while now), it is likely that you’ve read a lot of blogs and articles about how to be productive and stay focused. And chances are, you’ve come across a whole lot of tips on how to structure your workday, how to create a daily routine for yourself, and how to stick to it.

While these are all great tips (trust me, you do need a system that keeps you from disappearing down the Netflix rabbit hole), I feel like following them too strictly takes away any kind of flexibility and spontaneity from your workday. If you think about it, that defeats the entire purpose of opting to work for yourself and do your own thing.

So, once you’ve had a chance to get into the groove of working from home for a bit, maybe it’s time to craft a schedule that lets you be productive — but also make the most of your new-found flexibility. Here are 3 rules you can afford to bend when you’re working from home.

No personal chores during work hours

Now, I get why this is good advice. Tackling chores during your workday can trick you into feeling really productive — when in reality, you’re just procrastinating. However, with a little bit of planning and discretion, bending this rule can actually help you make better use of your time.

Think about it — you need to shop for groceries or drop off your dry cleaning. Think how long it takes to battle through peak rush hour traffic or doing them over the weekend when everyone else is trying to get their chores done too. Why put yourself through that when you have a flexible schedule? Take some time out of a weekday afternoon and you may be able to check off a bunch of chores within an hour! That leaves you with a whole lot of extra time to get your work done, answer your emails and maybe even plan ahead a little.

Work the same hours every day

This is yet another great way to maintain some semblance of a routine on a day to day basis. However, rather than following this rule blindly, I feel like there’s a smarter way to manage your time. Plan out all your tasks and see how you can make the most of your flexible schedule. For instance, if you are someone who works well in the evenings, it might be worth it to plan for a later start on a week when you have a lot of creative tasks to tackle.

Allowing for a little flexibility also lets you take advantage of other opportunities that come up — things that you wouldn’t have been able to enjoy if you were working in an office. Chalk out an hour in the afternoon and get outdoors when the sun is out. Grab a cup of coffee with a friend who’s in town on a flying visit. Go for a walk to clear your head when you are stuck in a rut.

Create a work area and stick to it

Call this a fallout of open-plan offices, but most of us are not used to sitting in one spot all day anymore. Even in offices that have assigned seating, you can usually move to a comfy couch, a recreation room or a café when you need a change. And yet, when you are working from home, most people recommend that you set up a home office and sit yourself down at that desk every day.

While that is a great way to switch your brain to ‘work mode’, sitting at the same spot every day can feel a bit uninspiring. After all, shadows change through the day — and what is a happy, sunlit corner in the morning can start seeming a little blah by the time evening rolls around.

Sometimes I find that simply moving to a different spot in the house is all it takes to get myself out of a rut. If you can work from a coworking café, a park, or any other third space, that’s great too. And if, once in a while, you feel like you need to plonk yourself down on your couch or work from your bed, don’t beat yourself up over it. As long as you are getting your work done, you shouldn’t feel guilty about how and where you sit. (Do remember to use adequate back support if you’re doing this though — those late twenties backaches are no fun!)

What rules do you bend or really stick to when working from home?