Important tips for working from home and staying productive
Working at home (doing your own business) has enormous advantages: you don’t have to commute during peak hours and you don’t have to ask a dentist for permission or leave school early to pick up children. But this also brings up an outline of the whole problem, especially if you are not familiar with working from home.
Losing the structure that the office environment provides can make some people feel uncomfortable. Possible problems include questions like “Never really close”! Or others don’t respect your time. Or just not enough organization to really achieve anything!
So, when we work from home, how do we keep productivity up – and how do we maintain a work-life balance?
I’ve compiled a list of working from home tips that worked for me. (By the way, I’ve been working from home for over 11 years – and I’m not going back to the office to do anything! However, I still find these tips really helpful for reminding myself what I should be doing often!)
Working at Home Tip 1. Define your work space.
You need a workplace – not on the couch in front of the TV! If you don’t have a separate den (which is ideal), try placing a desk in a guest room or dining room. You need a space where you can close the door and feel like you are “on the job”, so when you leave the room at the end of the day, you feel like you are done with your work.
Psychologically this is important because it will change your mental state from “home” to “work”. Learn to focus. Being able to close the door in a separate room is very important – if the door is open, you can send a signal to your family that you can chat (or play a game!).
Wherever your workspace is, make sure to keep it tidy – the old saying that a tidy desk equals tidy thinking is true! The tidier and organized your workspace, the more efficient your work will be. Also, make sure you have the equipment you need, and most importantly, make sure you have a comfortable chair with a backrest.
Working at Home Tip 2. Make ground rules with the people around you
Set your working hours (see Tip 4) and make sure your friends and family know and respect them. You don’t have time for coffee, lunch or games! Your friends and family may not be bothering you in the office because their problems can easily wait for you to get home, but if the home is your office, they may not show the same restraint. Many friends and family members will also think that when you work from home you can always stop for coffee or a long lunch! Make sure everyone knows the outage is for emergencies only.
Working at Home Tip 3. Preparation for work – physical and psychological
Eat breakfast, take a bath, and get dressed. You don’t have to wear a suit, but don’t wear pajamas! Getting changed in the morning requires you to prepare for work first – it can put your thoughts in the right place.
When you walk through the den in the morning, don’t turn on your computer to check your email (I feel guilty!). You suddenly realize it’s lunch time and you’re still in PJ, with an annoying headache from not having breakfast (let alone taking a bath!)
Make sure you have the right mindset for the day. Start the day right
Working at Home Tip 4. Establish and stick to normal working hours
The advantage of working from home is that if you don’t want to, you don’t have to work 9-5. My working hours are usually 9.30am to 3am (lunch break) and then 7.30am to 8.30pm (after my son goes to bed). Think about what works for you. You may have to work in the morning or evening to adjust to family life or to communicate with colleagues in different time zones.
No matter what time you decide, stick to it! (Give yourself some leeway, but don’t let work prolong your life).
I think this is one of the hardest “rules” when you work from home – it’s actually easy to never close it. However, a healthy work-life balance is important, even if you work from home.
Working at Home Tip 5. Don’t think you need a perfect home!
Don’t spend more time at work on housework! You can do some light housework during “lunch time”, just like washing clothes, but in fact, when you are at work, even when you work at home, you are also at work.
If you can afford a cleaner, and if you do a “suitable job” in the office, you will get a cleaner who is still available. Please don’t think that you are a super woman (or superman) and that you can do it yourself because others think you have more time because you work from home!