Working at home (in your own business) has tremendous benefits – no long commute in the rush hour, no need to ask permission to go to the dentist, or leave early to pick the kids up from school. But it can also bring a whole draft of problems, especially if you are new to working at home. Losing the structure provided by an office setting can be very unsettling for some. Problems may include things like, Never Actually Switching Off! Or other people not respecting your time. Or just not getting organized enough actually to get anything done!!
So, when working at home, how do we remain productive – and keep a work-life balance?
I have compiled a list of tips for working at home that I have found helpful. (By the way, I have worked from home now for over 11 years – and I wouldn’t go back to an office for anything! However, I still find these tips extremely useful to remind myself what I should be doing every so often!)
Tips for Working at Home: 1. Define your WorkSpace My Update Web.
You need to have a workplace that isn’t sitting on the sofa in front of the TV! If you don’t have a separate study (the ideal option), try setting yourself up with a desk in the spare bedroom or dining room. You need a space where you can shut the door and feel like you are ‘at work’ and therefore feel like you have ‘finished work’ when you move out of that space at the end of your day. Psychologically this is important as it changes your state of mind from “at home” to “work.” Learn to FOCUS. Being able to shut the door on your separate space is vital – if the door is open, it can signal to your family that you are available to chat (or play!)
Wherever your workspace is, make sure you keep it tidy – the adage about a tidy desk equalling a tidy mind is true! The tidier and more organized your workspace, the more productive you will be. Also, make sure you have the equipment you need – in particular, ensure you have a comfortable chair with back support.
Tips for Working at Home: 2. Set Ground Rules with Those Around You
Set your working hours (see tip 4) and ensure that your friends and family know this and respect it. You are NOT available for coffee, for long lunches, or to play! Your friends and family probably wouldn’t disturb you at an office with questions that can easily wait until you get home – but if a home is your office, they may not show the same restraint. Many friends and family will also think that as you work from home, you can stop for coffee or a long lunch at a moment’s notice! Ensure that everyone understands that interruptions are for urgent matters only.
Tips for Working at Home: 3. Prepare for Work – Physically and Mentally
Have breakfast, take a shower, and get dressed. You don’t have to wear a suit – but don’t stay in your pajamas! Getting dressed first thing in the morning prepares you for work – it gets your mindset in the right place.
Don’t turn the computer on to check emails as you walk past the study first thing in the morning (I am guilty of this one!) Suddenly you realize it’s lunchtime, and you are still in your PJs with a stinking headache cos you haven’t had breakfast (let alone a shower!)
Make sure you are in the right mindset for the day. Start the day properly
Tips for Working at Home: 4. Set Regular Hours – and Stick to Them
A benefit of working at home is that you don’t have to work 9-5 if you don’t want to. I tend to work from 9.30-3.00 (with a break for lunch) and then 7.30-8.30 in the evening (after my Son is in bed). Think about what works for you. You may need to work early mornings or evenings to fit your family life or communicate with colleagues in other time zones.
Whatever hours you decide – stick to them! (You are allowed some leeway – but don’t let work run your life). I think this is one of the hardest ‘rules’ when working from home – it is so easy to actually never switch off. But a healthy work-life balance is important – even if you do work at home.
Tips for Working at Home: 5. Don’t think you need an Immaculate House!
Don’t spend more time on housework than on working! A bit of light housework in your ‘lunch hour’ is acceptable, as is popping the odd load of washing on, but really, when you are at work, you are at work – even if you are working at home. If you can afford to get a cleaner and have one if you were working a ‘proper job’ in an office – still get one. Please don’t think you have to be Superwoman (or Superman) and do it all yourself because other people think you have lots more time because you work from home!!
If you take your work seriously, especially if you have just started a new business at home, you need to put the hours into your work – not into cleaning the house!! Schedule non-work time for household chores and get the rest of the family to do their share. You mustn’t take on every household job just because you work from home – those around you need to respect that although you are at home, you have serious work to do during your scheduled hours.
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