For many people working from home is the pinnacle of their professional life. No longer do you have the restraints and restrictions of a company dictating your every move. You have the freedom to come and go as you please, dictate your own schedule and determine your income. As great as this sounds on paper, reality is often a different story. Working from home is not all that it is cracked up to be. There are several differences and changes that must be recognized. If you are not a self-motivator or have defined systems in place it is easy to struggle. Working from home isn’t a treat, or a mini-vacation. It is simply just changing where, and how, you run your business. Here are five tips to help successfully navigate working from home.
- Regular Work Hours/ Space: Working from home should be as similar to working in an office as possible. In that, you need to make sure you get your work done, regardless of where it is. One of the biggest mistakes people working from home make is treating it like a day off. On a snow day it is easy to grab a cup of coffee, bring the laptop to the dining room table and work from there. This is a nice reprieve every now and then, but it can’t be your regular routine. You need to find a regular place to work, whether that is a dedicated office room in your house or a kitchen table. You also need to have set work hours. You can’t sleep till 10 and think you can make it up in the afternoon. You need to keep the same hours as you would in an office. Of course, there are exceptions, but the more you can mirror a traditional work day, the more efficient your business will be.
- Keep Work Separate: Regardless of how busy you are there will always be lulls in your day. It is important to keep the lulls to a minimum and know how to separate business with your personal life. Working from home doesn’t mean working for a few hours in the morning and then having a three-hour lunch with your friends. It should mean simply changing where you work, not how you work. When you are working you need to put your phone somewhere it won’t be a distraction. You can’t respond to every text, call or notification you get and stop working. If you do, you will never get anything done. It may be a difficult transition early on, but you need to be able to separate work from everything else. There will be times when things get a little lonely and you miss talking to people in the break room or at a cubicle. When this happens, you can’t ask your friends to meet you out and pull you away from work. There is plenty of time for that after hours. As difficult as it may be, keep your work life separate from your personal life.
- Take Periodic Breaks: It is unrealistic to think that you can just stare at your laptop for ten hours straight. Especially, when you are home without anyone else to talk to. Regardless of where you work, it is proven that working in small blocks will increase efficiency. When you are working from home you should have a work schedule that you follow, almost without exception. Whatever your schedule is and when you start you should give yourself a ten-minute break every sixty minutes or so. This can be used to grab a quick snack, scroll through social media or simply get up and stretch your legs. Working for longer stretches doesn’t mean that you are working harder. In fact, it may be counterproductive. You can retain more information and get more time by taking small breaks during your work day.
- Get Out At Least Once A Week: The euphoria of working from home wears off pretty quickly. As great as it is working from your patio, or your dining room, eventually like working in an office it gets stale. One way to keep things fresh is by getting out of the house at least once a week. Changing where you work will keep things fresh and help you focus. There are plenty of coffee shops, libraries and other quiet places you can plug your laptop in and get some work done. Not only does a change of scenery help recharge your battery, but it may also help you meet new people or think of ideas you would not otherwise have had.
- Dedicated Work Phone/ Email Address: It may seem insignificant, but you should always look for ways to separate your business and personal life. The best way of doing this is by having a dedicated phone number and email address. That way, you know when a call comes in for work as opposed as a call from a child’s classmate or a friend. The same is the case with your email. If you are like most people you get several useless emails daily. Having a dedicated email account doesn’t necessarily cure this, but it will help you streamline your inbox, so you don’t miss out on something important. It also helps you appear much more professional, which is helpful with networking and building your business.
Working from home should allow you to do some of the things with your children or spouse that you may not have been previously able to. That being said, it doesn’t mean you will work any less hard or fewer hours per week. Use these five tips to help get the most out of your day and navigate working from home.