Everyone is looking for that work / life balance – but what do you do when work and home life are completely intertwined? With more moms than ever working from home, blogging, or simply managing the household from finances to family schedules, carving out an at-home work space has become pretty much mandatory.
Whether you’re outfitting an entire office or claiming a spare nook in your home for your own, we’ve rounded up some fantastic ideas to create a work area that looks as good as it functions.
Buy a do-everything laptop you’ll feel good about using
If you do any kind of work from home, you’ll know the biggest challenge is motivating yourself to actually pry open your laptop. But the Yoga 910 from Lenovo will inspire you to get down to business with its crazy long list of features. For one thing, it doubles as both a laptop and a tablet, and you can easily switch between using the keyboard or your fingers to interact with it.
Because you’re on the go, the Yoga 910 is super adaptable – it’s crafted with a durable (and attractive) all-metal unibody design, provides 4K high-definition graphics, and has a longer battery life than its predecessor (you can also charge your phone up while it’s closed). Designed to both turn heads and turn up your productivity, this lightweight, sleek laptop is the perfect work accessory.
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Be secure, be smart, and back things up!
Nothing – and we mean nothing – is more frustrating than losing work-in-progress, or having your computer go down right as you need an important document. The cloud is your best friend, allowing you to access essential documents no matter where you are. While it may make more sense to work from a desktop version of something, be sure to regularly save projects to the cloud in case the worse happens, like a power outage or a corrupt hard drive.
Keep in mind that the almighty cloud isn’t the be all and end all. You should still be backing up your computer or important docs on a regular basis to some other source – like an external hard drive. Don’t forget about security either. Install a trusted anti-virus program on your computer, and choose passwords for your cloud account that are difficult for others to guess.
Borrow some ‘rules’ from a typical office
It’s easy to let things slide when most of your day is spent at home. But when you start becoming lackadaisical about things like your appearance or schedule, they can snowball into reducing your productivity. While you should certainly take advantage of certain work-at-home perks like a flexible schedule, try to set some boundaries and guidelines to keep yourself on task.
For example, shed the PJs and morning breath and actually get dressed, brush your teeth, and try to look presentable enough to greet a mailperson if they happened to stop by. Set boundaries with family members and friends to prevent unexpected drop-ins that take you away from your to-do list.
Set short, medium, and long-term tasks
When you’re navigating your own productivity, it can feel like there’s a million things, or nothing to do. Battle inertia! Start each morning by creating a list of the top 1-5 things you must do that day. Then, add on a few things you’d like to get done, such as reaching out to a new client, or looking into swimming lesson schedules for the next season.
Finally, have a longer list of things that should get done, but aren’t urgent. These can be as varied as researching some new ideas for your blog to cleaning out your office file boxes and baskets (you promised!) Word to the wise: A cute notebook that can fit in your purse is the perfect way to stay organized.
Take care of yourself. No, seriously
When you work in an office, you’re likely to be more mobile, wandering to coworkers’ desks, the kitchen, or to a nearby store. When you work at home, it’s easy to become an office chair potato. Consider investing in an activity tracker that gently vibrates when you’ve been sitting for too long as a reminder to get your blood flowing. While you’re up and about, be sure to stay hydrated. Keep a big water bottle by your desk and refill it regularly.
The other big thing to watch out for is your back. A good quality office chair can make a huge difference when it comes to back pain and overall comfort. Still feeling cramped up? Visit a massage therapist every 4-6 weeks to get those knots out.
Caffeine makes the working world go round – there’s no shame in needing your daily buzz. Instead of splurging on Starbucks, consider investing in a good-quality coffee maker for home. Tea drinker? Get some scrumptious tea bags or loose-leaf tea from your favorite tea shop, and brew it the right way.
Treats can also extend to actual food and can be good motivators. Promise yourself that you’ll cross an item off your to-do list – and enjoy a sweet reward upon doing so.
Multi-task between home and work life
Being at home means you can often step away from your desk to take care of the house at the same time, but you have to be careful not to let one thing take away from the other. Instead, think about using your daily household tasks as guides for your work life.
For example, if you’re working on a project, let your timer be something related to a household chore. Baking a casserole? Running a load of laundry? When the timer’s up, that can be your signal to take a break from work and focus on the house for a few minutes.
Keep the noise out
Get in the zone by creating playlists geared toward what you’re doing. Need some white noise? Try some classical music or movie scores in the background. Brainstorming like crazy? Go for some high energy music to get you in the mood.
You’ll also want a pair of cordless, noise-blocking headphones. Enjoy cordless freedom as you bop around your work space, and keep everything from your neighbor’s lawn mower to your kids’ favorite shows on mute with the noise cancellation features.
Don’t be afraid to call it quits
Unless you’re an ER doctor, it’s pretty rare to be available 24/7. No matter what type of role you’re doing at home, follow a schedule. While you can enjoy a little more flexibility in terms of when things happen, aim for a certain number of hours worked per day, and a certain number of breaks.
Most importantly, set a quitting time. No child wants to be in the middle of telling you how their school day went only to have their parent hop up from the table to take a phone call. Sign off from any work-related accounts and tasks at a designated hour and simply enjoy what you’re doing it all for: your family.