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Six ways to make the best of working from home

Posted by Natalie in Society - 5 June 2012

When applied to the world of travel, the term ‘remote’ evokes feelings of a pristine, idyllic location: difficult to access but always worth the effort. When it comes to work, however, the same word starts to mean something very different and far less attractive.

For more and more people, a reliable internet connection is all they need to do their job; physical location is arbitrary. But when your home is your office, and your commute an idle shuffle across the room, life can become lonely and lethargic. Ironically enough, the freedom of movement of a Location Independent Professional is one of its most exceptional benefits. So how do you make the most of this blessing without falling for its curse?

Get moving

To many, ‘working from home’ conjures images of blissed out relaxation and commute-free days. In reality, the novelty wears pretty thin, pretty quick. As a cyclist, the journey to and from work was often the highlight of my day, especially in London, with its exhilarating entropy. The downside of being part of the tireless city is that it quickly wears you out. Working from home, for the first time in my working life I’ve got excess energy to burn. Channel this energy into exercise and improve your quality of life no end. It’s surprisingly easy once you get started, as your body rewards you for the activity you never realised it craved.

Get extracurricular

Living and working in countries whose language you don’t speak adds a level of intensity to the isolation you can feel. Taking a language class is probably one of the best things you can do with your spare time for a real sense of integration and satisfaction. There is nothing more rewarding, or magical, than your environment slowly coming into focus around you, making sense word by word. It’s a great way to meet people too.

Get a pet

Talking to an animal is generally (slightly) more socially acceptable than talking to yourself. Having a pet can make the difference between quirkiness and insanity, or at least a perception thereof. Labels stick, as they say, and after that it’s a slippery slope. Although dogs make wonderful friends, they can be distracting and demanding, providing endless excuses for procrastination. Cats, on the other hand, are perfect. They’ll sit in your in-tray listening patiently to your innermost thoughts with comforting indifference. If you’re moving around too often, offer to pet-sit. It can be a good little earner.

Work your workstation

Set yourself up comfortably. My desk is by the window and balcony, with plenty of natural light and opportunities to remember what a great place I live in. Some may point out that this encourages distraction by being too close to temptation, but if that’s the case then they probably shouldn’t be allowed outside at all. Anyway, few could argue that being hunched over your laptop in a dark, dingy room is conducive to productivity.

Set boundaries

It used to be so simple. The office was for work and home was for leisure. The danger, if you work from the place you call home, is that work starts to eat away at leisure time. Annoyingly, it rarely happens the other way round. It may seem a nice idea to have a relaxed approach to work and when it gets done, but this often leads to a lack of focus. Much better is to have set working hours and stick to them, as this will help you to prioritise and actually increase productivity, overall leaving much more free time to enjoy life.

Appreciate the perks

To passionate travellers and restless globetrotters, the ability to travel whilst working is the holy grail, a welcome compromise for that all-too-familiar conflict between career and adventure. Without office politics and badly chosen background music, away from petty distractions, you can focus more and better. Just think: you commute less, leaving more time for leisure; you eat well, preparing fresh homemade dishes instead of packaged fast-food. All this saves money and the environment. Dwell often on the advantages, knowing that your peers are envious. It’s not easy, but nobody said it would be. You’re making big, bold moves and for this (for everything) there is always a price. Is it worth it? Undoubtedly.

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