Working from home? Here’s how to do it right.

A lot of people who start working from home, do so in the vein that they had long fantasized about, that is to say, doing things as and when they feel like it. For some people, this means throwing the alarm clock in the trash, working on their laptop from their bed (in between YouTube videos and Facebook updates), with a beer and a pizza perched next to them.

Others, who may have chosen to work from home in order to spend more time with their family, find themselves constantly interrupted or disturbed. Babies need their nappies changing and older kids make a lot of noise when playing. There’s the odd day when they decide they could just get that chicken out to defrost or make the most of the good weather outside to plant some vegetables, mow the lawn or hang the washing out.

These ways of ‘working’ ensure that you get very little done. When there are deadlines to meet, you could end up missing them, or not sleeping for 72 hours as they approach. Either way, your business, your health – or both- are likely to suffer. If you want to be able to continue working from home, at some point you’re going to have to start taking it more seriously.

Something that you absolutely need to factor in is a work-home schedule. This means blocks of time which you use exclusively for work reasons or to take care of your home or family. You need to be disciplined about this – it’s all too easy to sit yourself down to start work, and then remember you didn’t empty the washing machine, or decide you’d like to take a stroll outside while the sun is out. It doesn’t mean, however, that, having started work at 8 a.m., you have to wait until 5 p.m. to do those things. In fact, it’s usually better if you don’t. Almost all jobs require you to take a break, to give you time to process what you’re doing and to rest your eyes, if you’re working with a screen. Use these breaks to do those other tasks. Give yourself 10 or 15 minutes every couple hours.

Apart from managing your time properly, it’s also important to manage your space. Not maintaining clear boundaries between space for work and home space is fraught with risks. Aside from increasing the likelihood of being disturbed by everything, from your favorite soap opera to the neighbors or friends turning up for a coffee because they know you’re home, you could jeopardize video conferences and telephone calls by having your children screaming in the background. You could even end up having your work files deleted because you allow your family members to play games and download updates when you’re not using your computer. It might only take one nasty virus to wipe out your career.

If possible, work in a separate room from the rest of your home, and treat it just like an office anywhere. If you live in a studio apartment or a smaller home with fewer rooms, put up a partition to separate yourself from the rest of the room. This will cut down on distractions and also send the message to anyone else at home that you are at work and shouldn’t be unnecessarily disturbed.

Now that you have your own dedicated work space, make it comfortable for yourself. In most countries there are laws governing things like the amount of natural light that office workers are exposed to, the distance between their head and their screen, their hands and their keyboard, the amount of noise they are subjected to, etc. If you ignore such factors at home, you’ll soon find out why they are regulated. Poor posture can lead to joint problems and chronic pain which can have a drastic effect on your productivity. Get yourself a good quality chair from Office Chairs Only to help you prevent injuries. Working in a dark environment or having limited exposure to natural light can negatively affect your eyesight and exacerbate conditions such as anxiety and depression, both of which can ruin your health and your business.