A scientist with more than 20 years of dense experience in drug discovery with big pharma, start-ups, and rare disease foundations, Sean Eakins has worked from home nearly 10 years.
“Working remotely for this long has many advantages – you can dress how you want, work when you want and pretty much do whatever you want – within reason if you are going to remain productive,” Eakins blogged this past November. “The main disadvantage is you feel like a prisoner working pretty much 24/7… the lack of interaction with others on a daily basis apart from by email or Twitter makes you feel like you are totally isolated.”
So what can you do keep focused on your productivity while not making work the cornerstone of your home life?
Start by making a dedicated space for work – one that you can enter and leave. Dedicated space does not necessarily have to be a separate room used solely as a home office (although a dedicated office space may help come tax time). You can set up a desk in any room, spread out at the dining room table, or even build an add-on evocative of the Tiny House movement. The key is that the space needs to be functional and comfortable, and a dedicated space sets boundaries for you and for others so that it’s clear when you’re on the clock and when you’re on the couch.
While the couch may be comfy, your office chair should be too. Sitting in an uncomfortable desk chair can cause fatigue, pain, and an overall lack of motivation. It’s a worthwhile splurge to buy more than the basic task chair. Look up how to create an ergonomic workspace.
When it comes to killing clutter, don’t forget to slay paper monsters. Paper can be the largest source of clutter in an office. Print less. Digitize more. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Slow down the onslaught of junk mail by putting your name on the Do Not Mail List available through the Direct Marketing Association and opt out of pre-screened credit offers.
Office spaces also tend become a repository of old pens, folders, paper clips, and other items you think you just might need one day. Don’t let your habit of hanging on to things make it harder for you to do your job. Start by getting rid of things that are broken, not the right solution, or unnecessary duplicates. Look for places to donate items that are perfectly good but you don’t need – social service organizations, nonprofits and schools often need supplies.
Make your space a place you’d like to be. Paint the walls. Hang pictures. Get a plant. Adjust the lighting. There are no company policies here! Do what feels good and stimulates your creativity.
Finally, once your home office is set up, don’t forget to use it. Personal space is a terrible thing to waste.