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Working from home has many benefits, but there are also some potential obstacles that can make you go insane if you're not careful. How can you look after your mental and physical health when your workplace is your home?

Increasing numbers of people are working from home full-time or telecommuting on a regular basis. Working from home offers many benefits, including more flexibility, no commuting time, and not having to deal with office politics (as often). It's not hard to understand that those who go to work can be a little envious of those of us who are already there when we get up in the morning. We can stay in our jammies all day if we want to, as long as that doesn't affect productivity. 

Working at home also has its downfalls, on the other hand. Indeed, it can have a serious negative impact on your physical and mental health — unless you make sure it doesn't.

Are you working at home or thinking about it? These tips are for you, especially if your job involves sitting in front of a computer a significant portion of the day. 

Staying Motivated And Productive

There are plenty of reasons to want to work from home. No matter what yours are, it usually isn't all that easy to land an at-home job or to convince your current employer to let you work out of the office. When that possibility does open up for you, you are likely to feel enormously grateful. Working from home may allow you to see more of your kids, or it may mean you never have to be stuck in those hellish morning traffic jams again. It's easy to focus on the positive at first, and that makes it easy to be the most productive worker you can be as well. 

Be forewarned, though: the honeymoon period wears off.

People — even or perhaps especially your significant other — will come to expect you to do the same things you might be able to do if you were retired, a housewife, or unemployed. But you are none of those things, and you aren't able to have long, leisurely lunches with your friends, you can't keep the house spic 'n span while you're working, and you aren't able to do a productive job while successfully looking after little children either. Those or similar things might be expected from you nonetheless. This may create resentment, especially if you try to do all the things everyone expects. 

While members of your household and friends expect you to function as if you didn't have a job "because you're home all day anyway", you might find it hard to stay motivated. Without your boss and co-workers looking over your shoulder, it seems like you're less accountable. Who will stop you from looking at cute kitty videos on Facebook for "just five minutes" or from checking your emails yet again? 

Remaining motivated is the key to staying productive. For that, you need to actively remember why you are doing the job you are doing. You need to feel part of a team. Most of all, you need to take care of your own needs.

Here are some ways to do all of that:

  • Set up a routine. It doesn't have to be a rigid routine in which every minute is planned out (unless you have deadlines), but it has to be a routine nonetheless. 
  • If you have young children at home, get childcare while you're working or work when your partner is home. This is good for your sanity and fair on your employer.
  • Get out of the house every day. Get dressed for work and have a reserve a special part of your house for work, so you still feel like you "have arrived at work". This will help you focus. 
  • Exercise every day. Take regular breaks and engage in some exercise while you are at it. This will keep your mind sane and your body healthy. 
  • Eat nutritious meals. Don't eat while staring at your computer screen. 
  • Whether you're self-employed or employed, connect with your co-workers. Ask other team members about their jobs and personal lives, and stay in touch with them. Doing so will make you feel more committed, which will make you more productive.
  • Actively enjoy your job. When that becomes hard, take a look at the good sides again. 
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