By Syed Balkhi, founder of WPBeginner

Not long ago, people would scoff if you mentioned that you worked from home. Times have certainly changed. Now, remote work is almost as common as working in an office building. 

If you're a member of the remote population, having a healthy remote experience is important for your mental well-being and happiness. Let's look at four habits you should practice as someone who works from home.

Communicate regularly with your team.

Communication is absolutely vital to any career. When you work from home, things are a little different. You're more likely to suffer from mental health issues, including "social isolation." Good mental health is not just important for your career, but for a healthy life. The best way to fight back against social isolation, and increase your productivity, is by communicating regularly with your team.

If your job doesn't specify, ask where the team meets up to talk about work or just general conversation. The most common programs companies use include Skype, Slack and Zoom. Find out where your co-workers converse and don't be afraid to join in. Video calls are also beneficial for your mental health. Seeing the smiling faces of your co-workers can have a huge impact.

Separate work from personal time.

There is a growing problem in the community of people who work from home -- they are unable to disconnect from work when they "clock out" for the day. This trend is alarming and can lead to more stress.

You have to be willing to mentally leave the office. There are multiple ways to do this. The first thing you can do is separate from your workspace. You should always work in one place and have fun somewhere else. When you put the two together, you can have trouble distinguishing between them and get stuck mentally at work.

Another way to stop the work stress after work is simple -- turn off your work notifications. Obviously, there are some positions where you can't turn off your notifications, such as an editing manager for a blog. But generally speaking, if you can turn off your notifications, do it. You'll thank yourself later.

Manage distractions.

Anyone who has worked from home has dealt with a distracting day. You're sitting there working on your email marketing campaign, which should take a couple of hours, and you're already 10 hours in.

You have to cut the distractions from your day if you don't want to end up in this situation. Being distracted could cause you to work for twelve or more hours a day, ruining your free time and leaving you tired and miserable. Luckily, there are multiple apps and extensions available to help keep you focused.

Social media, in particular, can suck up a lot of your free time. You go to check your messages for a minute, and before you know it, an hour of mindless scrolling has passed. The Google extension StayFocusd can help with this problem. It allows you to add websites you want to restrict, like Facebook, and limit your time on those sites to 10 minutes.

Take breaks.

Just because you work from home, doesn't mean you shouldn't take a break every once in a while. If you don't, you will eventually burn out and your productivity will go out the window. Besides losing productivity, not taking a break can have a harmful effect on your health. Your eyes will become strained, headaches can develop and you'll feel stress and tension.

A popular way to take breaks when you work from home is called the Pomodoro technique. Essentially, this method involves you working for 25 minutes, then taking a three- to five-minute break. You continue this process for two hours, then take a longer 15-25 minute break. This technique helps train your brain to focus, gives you time for breaks and can make you a healthier, more productive remote worker.

During your break time, don't forget to take care of the necessities. Drink plenty of water. Try the 20-20-20 method to protect your eyes from the harmful blue lights on your computer, which involves you looking at something 20 feet away and focusing for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes. This helps reset your focal point and protects your eyes.

There's no doubt that the luxury of working from home is something to be appreciated. But like all good things, too much can be extraordinarily unhealthy for you. Make sure that you're taking preemptive steps to remain as physically and mentally healthy as possible. If you implement these tips in your day-to-day life, you'll soon notice a shift in your work and personal life. 

Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site that helps small businesses start their website.

Published on: Dec 27, 2018