In 2010, 13.4 million people worked from their home at least one day a week, which was a 35% increase from the previous decade. Several of the things that an at-home worker needs to be productive are self-motivation and self-control. However, there are a few other essential things that can severely affect production, especially when at home—circadian rhythms and hydration. Here's what you need to know.
Circadian rhythms are changes in your body that are affected by the environment you are in. The types of changes that circadian rhythms affect are mental, physical, and behavioral. To put it simply, circadian rhythms are not your biological clock but are what makes your biological clock tick.
Circadian rhythms do this by environmental factors, such as lighting and temperature. These environmental conditions tell your body when it's time for things like sleeping and working. Here are a few examples:
- Lighting. If your home office has poor lighting, your body can be affected because the circadian rhythms can get thrown off from not getting light. This can make you drowsy, which can decrease your productivity.
- Temperature. If your home office increases in temperature throughout the day, such as when natural sunlight pours in through the windows and heats the room, you can start to feel sluggish. According to the National Institutes of Health, the temperature of your environment is a key factor in your body's mechanism that regulates sleep, which are circadian rhythms.
Circadian rhythms help keep you on track with your work and sleep schedule. It's important to improve your circadian rhythms, especially when you work from home. After all, your bedroom is near and you might be tempted to crawl into bed when you are drowsy or sluggish.
Solution: Control the lighting and the window shades in your home with home automation. With this type of system, you can set the lighting and the window shades on timers or adjust them when needed through the use of a mobile device or a remote control. An automated system is more efficient than having to get up to physically adjust lighting and window shades. Therefore, an automated system is beneficial for productivity because it helps you stay on your work tasks. Hire a residential electrician who specializes in home automation lighting, such as Excel Electric Inc.
Hydration is important for your productivity as well. When your body is dehydrated, your cognitive performance is decreased, which can obviously affect your productivity. When you can't think clearly, you might find yourself getting off-task and/or taking much longer to finish a certain project. And without realizing that the muddled though processes may be due to being dehydrated, you wouldn't know to take a break and get a drink of water.
While dehydration can affect in-office workers in this way as well, it can be more detrimental to at-home workers due to distractions in the home, such as dirty dishes in the sink or laundry that needs folded. And with an impaired cognitive performance capability due to being dehydrated, you would likely find it difficult to get back on track with your work tasks.
Solution: According to the Institute of Medicine, men should drink 3 liters of beverage daily and women should drink 2.2 liters. Schedule breaks so you can get up from your desk and focus on getting hydrated to make sure you get the water you need. Scheduled breaks can make it easier for you to remember to drink water than having a bottle of water on the desk where it can be forgotten even though it is right there in plain sight. Of course, the number of breaks you take and the length the breaks should last depends largely on the amount of work you need to get done. Incorporate an alert in your new lighting system by having the lights flicker on a scheduled basis to let your know when it's time for your hydration break.
Circadian rhythms that are off-kilter and dehydration can affect anyone's productivity whether they work at home or in a commercial facility. However, at-home workers can find it more difficult to remain on task or get back to work. Fortunately, it's easier for them to make these types of changes in their home offices.