Working from home is great, but it can sometimes feel like being an involuntary shut-in. You sit at home all day, only to stay at home all night — and the more time you spend at home, the more inertia keeps you from leaving the house. Here's how to escape that rut.
I've been working from home since I graduated, and while it's awesome, I find that I don't get out very often. I'd like to, but after sitting at home working, it's hard to work up the motivation to go anywhere else — even for something fun like hanging out with friends. So lately, I've been trying to escape the inertia of being a shut-in. Here are a few tips I'm trying.
Work From Multiple Locations Each Day
Just because you telecommute doesn't mean you have to work from home all day, every day. After all, sitting in one place all day is literally killing you, so you should try to get up and move around a bit throughout the day.
Couple this with a bit of productivity by playing "workstation popcorn". Divide your tasks into a few groups, then perform them at different locations. For example, you might do your first group of tasks at a cafe, then move to the co-working space down the street:
Once you finish all the tasks in group #1, get up and move. Close your tabs, pack your bags, and physically move your butt to your next spot. If you can, walk or bike to your next stop. Avoid driving if you can. The physical activity is important.
Use this time to practise your zen, take a break from your screen, and get some movement into your day. Keep your phone in your pocket, and move. Take a break away from work for at least thirty minutes. Whatever you do, don't go back to the same place you just left.
It's OK if one of those places is your home — after all, working from home has its advantages — this just ensures you get out of the house a little bit during the day (and helps you clear your mind between tasks). Just make sure you're prepared with the right apps and tools.
Use Your Lunch Break To Step Outside
Don't underestimate the power of a real lunch break. While it may be tempting to eat lunch at your desk, it's important to take breaks during the workday, and your lunch break is the perfect time to recharge your brain. If you can, try to eat lunch without looking at a screen, like your phone or TV. Just make sure you're eating healthy while you're at it.
This isn't to say you should go out for lunch, necessarily (though it is nice to do occasionally — especially with friends who work nearby). More importantly, try to use your entire lunch hour, if you can, to stay away from work. But once you've committed to staying away from work for your lunch break, you have a lot more freedom — you can eat lunch on the porch, take the dog for a walk, or go for a quick run. If you can sneak in a little fresh air — even if it's brief — it will go a long way. It may feel like you're slacking off, but you'll be much more productive if you come back to your desk feeling refreshed from a change of scenery.
Run Errands During The Workday (If You Can)
Your lunch break is just the beginning: If you're lucky enough to make your own hours (or at the very least, aren't on a strict schedule), use that to your advantage. Work during your most productive hours, and use a bit of time in the middle of the day to get out of the house. Go to the post office, go to the gym, or make that trip to sort other chores you've been putting off. Not only will it give you a chance to get out, but you'll hit less traffic and fewer crowds during the day.
For example: I'm a morning person, so even though I could work 9-5, I wake up at 6am and work through my most productive morning hours instead. Then, when things slow down at work, I'm ahead enough that I can make that supermarket trip at 2pm instead of when it's crowded later on. (If you work better in the evening, you can adjust this schedule accordingly).
Of course, this isn't possible for everyone who works from home, but chances are you have at least a little flexibility — so use it to get out of the house instead of sitting at the same desk all day.
Schedule Fun Outings During Non-Work Hours
Working from home means no ghastly commute, which is great — but it also means when you're done with work, you don't get to go home. You just get to stay where you are, and motivating yourself to go out after sitting in the same place all day is impossible.
To avoid this paralysis, schedule some activities for your evenings ahead of time. Maybe that means going out for dinner with friends, or just heading to the comic book store on your own. Whatever it is, if you plan it in advance, you'll be much more likely to get excited for it ahead of time — and it will be a lot easier to pull yourself up after a day of deepening that butt print in your couch. Even if it's a personal errand, I'll often put it on the calendar so I have something to look forward to.
This may seem like a silly problem to some, but inertia can be stupidly powerful. No matter how outdoorsy or extraverted you may be, being surrounded by the same four walls all day, every day can feel debilitating — while simultaneously making it harder to actually leave. Schedule some time out of the house and you'll be a much happier, healthier telecommuter.