Jason Fried is the cofounder and president of Basecamp (formerly 37signals), a privately held Chicago-based company committed to building the best web-based tools possible with the least number of features necessary, of which David Heinemeier Hansson is a partner. The following is an excerpt from their book, "Remote: Office Not Required." In it, they write that building a routine is crucial to providing boundaries between business and life while working from home. They recommend dressing for the work day, creating separate work and play spaces, and dividing the day into scheduled chunks, depending on what works for you. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
If nothing else, the standard 9-to-5 job with a commute at least has a solid routine going for it. The alarm goes off at roughly the same time every day, you head into the office on the train, you loosen the tie when you come back home, you pour yourself a scotch on the rocks ... Okay, perhaps your routine isn't quite so 1950s, but you get the point.
Working from home offers you far greater freedom and flexibility. That might seem like an enviable dream to anyone stuck in a cubicle, counting down the minutes until the workday is officially over, but the reality is not quite so clear-cut. Without clear boundaries and routines, things can get murky.
If you don't have to be anywhere at a certain time, you can easily end up lying in bed until close to noon, just casually working away on the laptop. Or you can let work drift into that evening you're supposed to share with your spouse and kids. "Daaad, why aren't you watching the show with us?"
While some might be able to juggle that floating lifestyle, most people need some sort of routine — something they can stick to at least most of the time. We'll cover how to use different technologies for work and play in "Compute different," but, the fact is, there are many tricks you can employ to bring some structure to your day.
Take those comfy sweatpants, for example. They might be great for your physical comfort, but there's good reason to ponder whether they're a great fit for your state of mind. In the same way that there's a benefit to creating a separation between personal and work computing, it can also be helpful to separate the clothes you wear, depending whether you're in work or play mode.
This doesn't mean you have to dress up in a suit every day (but if that's what floats your boat, get that bow tie spinning!). We're merely suggesting that you demarcate the difference between work and play. Simply looking presentable is usually enough. One of our employees, Noah, likes to demarcate using his slippers: He has both a work set and a home set! Not everyone uses such props, or even requires the mental separation they're meant to create, but if you're having trouble getting into work mode in the morning, try putting on some pants.
Another hack is to divide the day into chunks like "Catch-up," "Collaboration," and "Serious Work." Some people prefer to use the mornings to catch up on email, industry news, and other low-intensity tasks, and then put their game face on for tearing through the tough stuff after lunch.
Depending on your time zone, you might do the same, but in reverse. For example, when David is working from Spain, his early mornings are great for getting stuff done before anyone from the United States is awake. After a mid-morning to afternoon break spent with his family, he uses the evenings for collaboration.
Finally, you can use the layout of your house as a switch. Make sure that real work only happens when you're in your dedicated home office. No checking work email or just getting a little more done in the living room or your bedroom.
Different strokes for different folks, so consider all these suggestions for how to build your personal routine as merely that — suggestions. If you're getting everything you need to get done just freewheeling, more power to you. But most people will need some semblance of structure to get the most out of working remotely. Find what works for you, pants or no pants!
Excerpted from "Remote: Office Not Required." Copyright © 2013 by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Published by Currency, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Jason Fried is the cofounder and president of Basecamp (formerly 37signals), a privately held Chicago-based company committed to building the best web-based tools possible with the least number of features necessary. David Heinemeier Hansson is a partner at Basecamp. Together, they are the coauthors of "Getting Real: The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way to Build a Successful Web Application," "Remote: Office Not Required," and the New York Times bestseller "Rework."
SEE ALSO: I've been working from home for nearly a decade — here are my top 9 productivity hacks to stay organized and avoid distractions
NOW READ: QUARANTINE DIARY: I was forced to stay home for 14 days with my fiancé. At first we had steak dinners and did yoga — but by the end we were ready to crack.
Join the conversation about this story »