Working from home sounds like a dream come true to stressed out office workers and exhausted commuters. However, sometimes home working poses its own challenges. It can make it harder to strike a workable work-life balance, because the temptation is always there to blur the boundaries between work time and leisure time. Without adhering to a fairly strict set of rules, homeworking can spin out of control. Here are some tips which dish the home truths on homeworking and help you to stay on track when the laundry beckons….

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1. Set boundaries around housework

There is always, always laundry. Dishes pile up, threatening to invade the whole kitchen… Housework all too often encroaches on our time. Like water, it fills up all available space. You have to set a limit on it, if you want to have a productive day. Explain to family or flat mates that although you are at home all day, you are also working. Make sure housework is divided up fairly and that it doesn’t all fall to you. Set a timer for all the separate household tasks allotted to you and make sure you stick to it religiously. 5 minutes to wipe down countertops, 10 minutes for vacuuming, 5 minutes to empty the dishwasher etc. Forget the idea of completing housework, just do the tasks for the allotted minutes and then stop, regardless of whether you are finished or not. Ditch perfectionism.

2. Get dressed

It may sound appealing to schlep around in your pyjamas all day, but if you get dressed in work clothing in the morning, you psychologically orient yourself into work mode. This will make you more productive and less likely to succumb to Midsomer Murders and the packet of Hobnobs.

3. Minimise distractions

Have separate work and home phones, and when you are working, only answer the work one. Don’t answer the door to the gossipy neighbour, and try to make it known that you are working. Let friends and family know your availability, and don’t browse social media during working hours. Have an allotted time every day when you can go on Facebook or text friends. These things are classic procrastination tools, and you need boundaries around them if you want to succeed at being productive.

4. Have a support network

Whether you are an extrovert or introvert, you need to connect with other people who are home working and who understand the issues you face. If you are self-employed, find others in your field and exchange tips and advice. Make sure you interact with colleagues face to face at least once a week, to avoid feeling isolated. Inform family and friends about your home working and tell them how they can support you. This could include leaving you to work uninterrupted during your working hours, and helping with housework.

5. Organise a dedicated working space

Not every home can accommodate an officially designated office space, but you should not be trying to work from the kitchen table in amongst the children’s breakfast leftovers. Even a small desk in a corner will suffice, as long as it is a space which can accommodate your files and any devices or equipment you need for work. If you don’t have a designated home for your work things, they will end up taking over the entire house. It helps greatly to have a window near your desk so you can refresh yourself with fresh air and avoid that stuffy, stagnated feeling that you left behind when you quit office work.

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