The Couch is Your Enemy: 5 Work-At-Home Pitfalls

When I tell people I work from home, I feel like most misunderstand and think I just sit around in my pajamas all day watching TV or devouring an endless supply of “what happens next will amaze you” articles on Buzzfeed. Well, to be honest, my wardrobe has suffered since leaving office life, but I can say that I work more at home than I ever did in an office. Being productive in any environment is all about limiting distractions, and working from home eliminates one of the biggest – other people. But you still have plenty of other things that can pull you away from your work, so to help, here are 5 (in no particular order) work-at-home pitfalls and how to avoid them.

1) The couch. What ever you do, stay away from the couch. When you work from home, sitting down on the couch is the horror movie equivalent of going upstairs to see what that noise was. It is the decision that can lead to a whole host of productivity-murdering activities like napping, watching TV, reading a book, playing a game on your phone, texting friends, and so on. Ideally you need to set up your workspace in an area away from your living space. Have an area dedicated to work, and limit it to the things you need to do your job … no couches.

2) Sleep. Usually working from home allows you to be more flexible with your time. Don't let that translate into rolling out of bed at 7:58 and logging on at 8:00. Your brain can't go from 0 to productive in two minutes. Give yourself time to fully wake up. Do something active to get the blood flowing – do some yoga or active stretching, go for a jog, or at least walk more than the 20 steps it takes to go from bed to desk. Most importantly eat some breakfast.

3) Housework. It seems ridiculous to me that washing dishes or folding laundry would be preferable to even the most mundane of work tasks, but when you work from home, breaks are a great time to take care of small household chores. There's nothing wrong this, just be careful not to get carried away. If you're like me putting a load of clothes in the wash can lead to other tasks like stripping and making the bed, which may lead to vacuuming the bedroom, then emptying the vacuum, then sweeping up the mess that results from emptying the vacuum, then mopping since you've already swept … STOP! Keep your breaks to under 15 minutes so you don't completely lose focus of what you were working on. More importantly you don't want to spend your whole evening doing the work you should have been doing while scrubbing the grout in the guest bathroom with a toothbrush.

4) The computer. Unfortunately the very device that is required to do your job and stay connected with your co-workers also provides access to the biggest time suck ever known to man, the internet. If possible have a separate device to use for frivolous interweb activities like high school crush stalking, fail compilation videos, dark elixir mining, lulz, and general trolling. This will reinforce the separation of work and time-wasting activities in your mind, and the urge to do one when you should be doing the other will be lessened.

5) Sitting at your desk. You may think that to get a whole bunch of work done you need to be chained to your desk. No. You need to get up and move around regularly. Nothing will lull you into a pixel-blurring coma quite like sitting in the same chair for six hours straight. Your thinking will get duller, and you'll be more prone to distractions the longer you sit. Try powering through tasks 30-60 minutes at a time then taking a short break.

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