working from home

5 Tips to Make Working from Home Easier

working from home with toddler

It's easy to think that working from home will be, well, easy. You're in the comfort of your own home. You can stay in your pajamas. You can eat a real breakfast, drink as much coffee as you want, lounge in bed as you look at spreadsheets. 

Reality sets in promptly the first time you try to work from home. At least for me. The moment I started working from home a lot (when I was pregnant with Forrest, primarily), it's like everything in my house became way more... distracting. I worked from home an average of 2 or 3 days a week when I was pregnant, thanks in part to exhaustion, preeclampsia, and morning sickness. There were days where it felt like I could not focus and, of course, days where I got everything I needed done completed so I could wallow in bed and try not to throw up again. 

I don't work from home anymore. Why? Well, working from home with a toddler is near impossible. (If you somehow achieve this, I need your secrets.) I do work from home if Forrest is at my mom's or daycare, like when I was sick in March. 

If you're thinking of starting to take some work from home days, these tips are for you. 

1. Have a "I'm working" spot. 

And I don't mean the desk where you normally charge your computer. I've always been a person who has a desk where I spend most of my evenings, but I know this is becoming less and less common. However, when I'm working from home, I clear another space in my house--usually the kitchen table--to be my "office." Having a clearly designated space, as if I was actually in my work office, helps me to stay focused. 

2. Use the same background noise that you use at work. 

If you listen to music, or podcasts, at work, do that at home too. When I first started working from home, I tried to use my "at home" background noise--the TV--and found it way too distracting. If I listen to music or a podcast, it's like my brain assumes I really am at work and I stay more focused. 

3. Use that familiar study tip: take 10 minute breaks every 30 minutes. 

Honestly, I do this at work (in the office) too. Every 30 minutes, stand up, stretch, walk around for 10 minutes. Then get back to work. Your brain will feel remarkably refreshed and you'll be better able to focus. 

4. If you can, turn off the Wifi. 

If you have the kind of job where you don't need a 24/7 connection to the internet, turn off your Wifi when you're really getting into a task. I often do this when I'm trying to write and getting distracted by Twitter notifications and everything the internet has to offer. 

5. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. 

Hey, if you try to work from home (to reduce commute costs or because you're sick), and it's just not working--hey, that's ok. It's not for everybody! Don't try to keep forcing it if you are aware that you aren't getting everything done or achieving the goals you want. It's possible that getting out of the house might help--working from a coffee shop or bookstore might work better for you. Or, maybe you're just an office kind of person.