How to set routines and spaces so you don’t go crazy working from home

Working from home can be an adjustment for those used to working outside or in an office. 

It’s a test of resilience and even people who have done it a long time have to figure out tips. 

It’s easy to be overwhelmed transitioning to homework. You have to set your own space up, often figure out how to use software for figuring out work and deal with some aspect of social isolation. However, you can also become incredibly productive and have more time for your personal life, if you do it right. And you can manage being alone and getting things done for weeks on end, without going crazy, if you set yourself up the right way. One study shows people even will take pay cuts to work from home.

What most people miss about being in a work environment is routine. It’s built-in that you’ll see the same people, maybe pass the same coffee shop on your commute and sit at the same desk. 

In order to transition to at-home work, you need to set routines. Here’s how:

Workspace set-up

Working from a home office is ideal. You can have a set-aside space to dedicate solely to work. One study shows that physical separation helps the mind differentiate between work and socialization. The popular open desk system actually decreases work. sleep and other circadian rhythms rely on breaks in the environment and pace. So what to do?

If you are in a railroad apartment or maybe split your bed with a set of stuffed animals and baby bottles, it’s harder to focus. Try to hang a sheet, or at least clear space at a table to work. Garages also make great spaces to get work done. Apple and a number of other great companies were started in garages, and it’s because it’s a separate space than a bed or kitchen, where people tend to spend a lot of time.

Home space set-up

If you aren’t slammed, make the kitchen sacred. Set aside the breakfast table as the place to have breakfast, not check Twitter or email. This also helps the mind not to be overwhelmed. No need to let work digitally invade the space you eat.

Work time set-up

Breaking up work time into scheduled pieces is one of the best routines you can do to stay sane. The Pomodoro Technique helps all kinds of workers get focused and get stuff done. Time management matters so this is an easy way to do it. Focus on work, and only work, for 25 minutes. Then take a five-minute break away from your workspace. Return and continue another Pomodoro. This seems simple, but TK shows it means the most important work gets done in an average of four hours.

Rest time set-up

Set up a time to end your workday. If you have a supervisor, negotiate to let them know you won’t be at your desk after a certain time, every day. Stick to this and you’ll be able to actually have a semblance of a routine, without having to get into rush hour home.

Working from home takes time to adjust to, but by separating your work and rest into spaces and routines, you can stay sane.

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