In theory, working from home should be easier. There’s no commute – so you get those hours back – and you’re in a familiar environment without the distractions and interruptions you get in an office.
But working from home brings its own issues and they can cause stress, even if you’re not under extra pressure from work.
Keep a routine
Routines are important and that’s even more the case when there are few, if any, boundaries between work and home.
When you went into the office – unless it was a flexi day – you almost certainly arrived at work at about the same time, took breaks at regular times and left for home at roughly the same time each day.
Keeping to a similar routine when your office is just a few steps away is equally (maybe even more) important.
Make sure that you keep reasonably close to your previous routine. Maybe even walk or cycle for the amount of time you’d normally have commuted so that there’s a break between leaving home and getting to the home office – this can help your mind to adjust and reduce the stress it’s feeling.
The feeling of being watched
Your firm may or may not have monitoring to check you’re “working” in the stated hours.
The systems vary but freelancers have long been used to the idea that their on-screen time is closely monitored so, depending on your pay grade, there’s a chance something similar will be part of the conditions for working from your home.
So, yes, that feeling of being watched is probably very real.
Which can cause stress if you’re not careful.
If possible, change how your mind thinks about this. When you were working in an office, other people were monitoring you. Just in a different way from a computer checking what’s happening on your device and reporting back, probably to another computer.
Gradually, your mind should adjust to this new way of being checked on.
Establish a work space
Where you work while you’re working from home will obviously depend on your environment.
If you’re sharing a house with others (whether the others are family, friends or people who just happen to live in the same house), it may well be that your allocated room is your bedroom and your work room.
If you’re lucky, you may have a study or even a share of a kitchen or lounge area that you can work from. This often helps to separate your work and personal life (boundaries again!).
Either way, you need to make sure that your work space works and also that it doesn’t take over the rest of your space.
How you do this will obviously depend on your circumstances but you need to do it. The work space may be bounded by an imaginary line or you could arrange books or files to create a border. But it’s well worth establishing a work space that is as close to being separate from home space as possible so your mind doesn’t stress about the merging of space.
Have a cut-off time
This is additional to the routine side of things.
It’s very easy to have one last check of messages before you leave your home office for the night (and thinking of things that way is a good idea).
And it’s very easy to spend much more time working at home than you would have done at the office.
A cut-off time, after which work has stopped for the day, is essential if you don’t want to become a home-workaholic.
Work when you’re supposed to be working
It’s also easy to skip work when the office is in your house – arrive late, leave early, spend longer on coffee and lunch breaks, watch another YouTube video, check Facebook and Twitter again.
All those things aren’t work. Even if you did some of them when you were working in an office.
It takes discipline to keep to your work schedule and if you’re constantly doing things that aren’t work related then you’ll get behind with your work and start stressing about that.
Play a background audio
Unless you’re on the phone or a video call, there’s a good chance you can play an audio track to yourself in the background, maybe with headphones on so you’ll hear any work related noises such as message bleeps.
This is a good idea and it’s even better when you’re using the background audio to plant positive suggestions in your mind.
A subliminal audio is the best of both worlds – it has a music track as well as inaudible messages specially written to reduce your stress levels. When I say inaudible, what I mean is your conscious mind almost certainly won’t hear the messages but your subconscious mind will.
And it’s that part of you that can reduce your stress levels. Just by listening to the audio in the background.
This combat stress subliminal audio has a choice of music tracks included (so you won’t get bored) as well as a brainwave version that helps your mind to focus and reduce stress.