How to Work From Home (And Actually Get $#*T Done)
It’s hard to believe it’s been exactly a year since I’ve had a corporate, full-time, show up to the office, traditional Monday-Friday work life situation. Making the adjustment to being self-employed (well, kinda, in my case I have a few gigs that are salaried, but remote) and working at home can be a little more challenging than many expect. Even if you're organized, focused and motivated, there are distractions and other challenges that can get in the way of being productive (after all, there’s no Michael Scott boss-esque personality to fear when you’re now your own boss).
Currently work from home or thinking of taking the leap? Here are some tips to make the transition as seamless, productive and healthy as possible:
Invest in Your Workspace
It’s easier than you can imagine for work and personal life to bleed together when you work from home. The best way to focus on work is to have a space that is only for work. While many successful entrepreneurs started their business at the kitchen table or bedroom, these are not the best choices for home office set-up. It’s too easy to get distracted by dirty dishes, laundry sitting on the bed or the television. Ideally, you want an office space with a door. If you can’t manage that, use screens or other barriers to set apart office-only space.
Not only will this help you focus and be productive, but it’s also a crucial aspect of taking the home office tax deduction.
Do you know what you need to do the minute you sit at your desk? Surprisingly, it takes many people time to orient themselves and figure out what needs to get done. Having a plan ensures that you know what tasks you need to complete and get right to it the minute your butt hits your office chair. Because home businesses require you to wear many hats (product or service, marketing, customer support etc), be strategic in setting up your daily plan. Productivity is less about great time management and more about strategic focus.
Have a Schedule and Stick to It
Some home businesses require a set schedule as traditional work does. But the home businesses that are flexible are usually the ones that can be difficult to work unless you have a schedule. Set up regular work hours to keep you focused and on task, and avoid distractions and procrastination. Once you have your schedule, stick to it. Arrive on time and leave at the end of the workday. In full transparency, this one doesn’t work for me because I have very non-traditional working hours, but I have implemented certain times each day where I perform specific daily tasks. I put them on my calendar and if something has to change that day, I move the meeting to a different time on the same day so I don’t ever fall behind on my routine.
Neighbors, friends, and family often don't understand that the work you do at home is as important as the work you do in an office. As a result, they'll ask you run errands, invite you to lunch and call to chat. Let them know your schedule and ask them to respect it just as they would if you were working outside the home.
Anticipate and Avoid Distraction
There are many issues you can anticipate and avoid in running your home business. Some distractions can be avoided through a separate office, schedule and setting limits, but other distractions, such as children, pets, the refrigerator, TV and a nice comfy couch perfect for napping (my absolutely weakness is naps) can interrupt work. Take a look at your life and habits to identify potential distractions and put things in place to avoid them. For example, if you’re a parent, look into play groups to keep your kids busy while you work.
Enjoy that Independence, Hunnay!
Having a home business is work…and sometimes you actually end up working more than you ever did when you were in a traditional work setting, but there’s nothing quite like being your own boss. The more you enjoy your work and take advantage of the perks, the faster you adjust to working from home. Sometimes working at home can get tedious, and it isn’t until you talk to someone who has to commute and deal with difficult colleagues that you're reminded just how lucky you are. Remember, there’s pros and cons to every situation and the grass will always be greener where you water it. I still have days where I absolutely miss my corporate career and the perks of working in an office. There are many great perks to working at home that you should take advantage of including celebrating your independence, working on outdoors, taking a nap in the middle of the day, or being able to be flexible with your schedule as needed.
Running a home business is the ultimate in taking control of your career, time and life. But if you've been working a traditional job for a while, it can be a challenge to make the adjustment from a job to becoming your own boss. You need to create all the external cues that go with working, such as a home office and set schedule. With that said, as long as you get your work done, you can enjoy the freedom and perks that owning your own business and/or working remote can offer your quality of life.